Container Grown Hyacinths: How To Plant Hyacinth Bulbs In Pots

Container Grown Hyacinths: How To Plant Hyacinth Bulbs In Pots

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By: Liz Baessler

Hyacinths are famous for their pleasant fragrance. They also grow very well in pots, meaning once they’re in bloom you can move them wherever you’d like, perfuming a patio, a walkway, or a room in your house. Keep reading to learn about how to plant hyacinth bulbs in pots.

How to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs in Pots

Container grown hyacinths are not difficult to grow. Hyacinths bloom in the spring, but their bulbs take a long time to establish roots, which means they should be planted in autumn.

Pick out enough containers that your bulbs can fit in them close together but not touching. Numbers will vary with the size of your bulbs, but this should equal about 7 bulbs for an 8-inch (20.5 cm.) container, 9 for 10-inch (25.5. cm.) pots, and 10 to 12 bulbs for 12- to 15-inch (30.5 to 38 cm.) containers.

Try to group bulbs of the same color in the same container, or else they might bloom at drastically different times and give your container a thin, unbalanced look.

Lay a 2-inch (5 cm.) layer of potting material in the bottom of the pot, moisten it, and lightly pat it down. Gently press the bulbs into the material with the pointed end facing up. Add more potting material, pressing it down gently, until just the tips of the bulbs are visible.

Caring for Hyacinths in Containers

Once you’ve planted your bulbs, keep the containers in a dark place below 50 F. (10 C.). If you live in an area that doesn’t get colder than 25 F. (-4 C.), you can leave them outside. Keep light off the containers by covering them in brown paper or garbage bags.

In the spring, begin gradually exposing the containers to light. After a few weeks, the bulbs should have produced 3-5 shoots. Move the containers to full sun and let them bloom.

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Intro: The fragrant hyacinth flower blooms in spring with white, pink, red, orange, yellow or blue bell-shaped flower clusters.

Scientific Name: Hyacinth orientalis

Plant Type: Perennial flowering plant

Light: Full sun

Water: Keep the hyacinth plant's potting soil well drained and not too wet. Too-wet soil will lead to the bulbs rotting.

Fertilizer: Not needed

Temperature: In order to force the hyacinth's flowers bloom, keep them in 45- to 65-degree temperatures (Fahrenheit). After blooming, they can tolerate warmer temperatures up to 85 degrees.

Pests and Diseases: Bulb rot can affect hyacinth bulbs if planted in too early in too-warm potting soil. Bulb mites and white grubs are insect pests that can ruin bulbs. Stem and bulb nematodes result in bent and yellowed hyacinth leaves, and reduced blooms. Throw away infested hyacinth bulbs and avoid using the infested potting soil for two years.

Propagation: To propagate this container plant, dig up hyacinth bulbs and cut them into a few parts. Sow from seed.

Misc. Info: When choosing hyacinth bulbs from your local garden shop, make sure the bulbs are heavy, without cuts, spots or softness. After keeping the hyacinth bulbs in the fridge for 20 days (this may not be necessary if bulbs are kept cooled at your garden center), plant bulbs at the end of fall in well-drained and sandy soil 5 inches deep in the plant container. The flat side of the bulb should face down and the pointed side facing upward. You can also “force” the hyacinth bulbs to grow in a forcing jar, which can be purchased at your local garden shop. Fill the jar with water until it reaches just below the bottom of the hyacinth bulb. The roots will grow into the water.

Unless you want to save seeds and grow the hyacinth flower from seeds instead of bulbs, deadhead dying flowers before they begin to produce seeds. Deadheading allows the hyacinth plant to focus its energy on producing more flowers rather than producing seeds.

Do not cut off any leaves as the hyacinth plant dies (this is true with all bulbous plants) because it will disrupt the plant’s effort in storing energy in its bulb to come back the next gardening season. After the hyacinth plant has completely died, cut the foliage off at the soil.

The hyacinth plant's flower production and size may decline after the years, so you may treat these container plants as annuals and purchase new bulbs every year, or you can allow the flowers to produce seeds and grow them from seed.

How to Plant Hyacinths

Last Updated: October 6, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Hyacinths are vibrant, sweet-smelling flowers that can grow outdoors and indoors all year long. Planting hyacinths outside during the late fall, just before the first frost, is relatively easy and similar to planting other bulbs. However, planting hyacinths inside requires more time and effort, and utilizes a technique known as “forcing” to encourage bulbs to flower.

Choosing Containers and Bulbs to Plant

You can grow virtually any bulb in containers, and you can mix different types of bulbs together, too. In fact, it's a lot like growing bulbs in the ground. Start with a container with drainage holes so that excess water can escape, and plant your bulbs in the fall. Most spring-blooming bulbs prefer well-drained soil and will rot and die if they stay too wet for too long.

If you want to leave your bulbs outdoors all winter, select a large container that will hold enough soil to insulate the bulbs. In the coldest-winter regions, that means a container at least 24 inches in diameter.

Planting Hyacinth

  • Plant hyacinth bulbs in the late summer to early fall. Don't plant any later than about a month before the first frost. Your bulb needs time to establish itself before the coming of the cold.

Choose a spot that gets at least four house of sun per day. Hyacinths do best in full to part sun.

Make sure the soil is loose and loamy. Hyacinth bulbs tend to rot in heavy soils that hold a lot of moisture. If your soil is heavy, improve its drainage by mixing in compost, shredded pine bark, or aged manure.

Pro Tip: If you soil is heavy clay, plant hyacinth in raised beds to improve drainage.

Plant hyacinth bulbs at least 4 inches below the surface and 3 inches apart. Grape hyacinth bulbs should be planted 2 to 3 inches deep.

Pro Tip: Plant hyacinth bulbs in masses to maximize their sweet scent.

Set the bulb in the hole pointy end up. The pointy end is where the shoots of the plant will emerge in the spring. Plant the bulb upside down, and you'll get no hyacinths in the spring.

Cover with soil and water thoroughly. Although there are no signs of life above the ground, the bulb will begin sending out roots soon after you plant it. Water them only if rainfall is scarce. Too much moisture is death for hyacinths.

  • Fertilize the bulbs with bulb food after planting to help them get established and grow strong new roots.

  • Looking after your hyacinths

    Avoiding over-wetting the compost or allowing it to dry out completely. After flowering, you can plant indoor hyacinths in the garden where they’ll bloom the next spring.

    Hyacinths grown in the ground require very little maintenance. As soon as the flowers fade, deadhead them, making sure to leave the foliage to die back naturally to feed the bulb for next year.

    We hope you’ll plant a few hyacinth bulbs this autumn ready for a fragrant display next spring. Tell us about your favourite variety over on our Facebook page, and don’t forget to tag us in your photos when they come into bloom!

    Written by: Sue Sanderson

    Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman's nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online.

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