When To Plant Hyacinth Bulbs

Written by Sandy Porter
Updated: March 14, 2023
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When you walk through a springtime garden and feel your soul lift as a heady fragrance hits you, chances are you’ve approached a cluster of hyacinths or grape hyacinths. The beautiful flowers grow on spikes and fill the air with a cloud of perfume only nature could manufacture and vibrant shades of pink, purple, white, apricot, blue, pink, and red.

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) Blue Star blooms in a garden in April

Hyacinths have vivid blooms and heady, sweet fragrance.

©Sergey V Kalyakin/Shutterstock.com

These stunning flowers natively grow in Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria, while grape hyacinth (not technically the same flower but in the same family) grow natively in Europe and Asia. The true hyacinth was introduced to Europe in the 1500s and become popularized by the Dutch who are known for their iconic bulb flowers (think tulips). They developed over 2,000 cultivars of the plant hyacinth, giving us our rich variety today.

Perennial or Annual?

Red hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) Jan Bos blooms in a garden in April

Hyacinths come in many shades including red, pink, purple, white, blue, and apricot.

©Sergey V Kalyakin/Shutterstock.com

Hyacinths are perennial plants, meaning you’ll plant hyacinth bulbs once and they’ll return each spring for three or four more years. The plants do need a cold dormancy period, however, to return, so though they may grown indoors, they make for a better outdoor plant. In warmer climates and indoors, they’re far more likely to be annuals.

Is There a Difference Between Grape Hyacinths and True Hyacinths in Planting Needs?

hyacinth bulbs just starting to produce

Hyacinth bulbs just starting to produce

©

Grape hyacinths are part of the same family as the true hyacinth and they require approximately the same growing conditions as each other. Planting and care work interchangeably for the two plants and their cultivars.

When to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs: Quick Answer

Hyacinth bulbs

Whether planting in pots or outdoors, they need about 10 to 12 weeks to bring forth flowers.

©iStock.com/bubutu-

Hyacinths are spring-blooming bulbs, so they should be planted outdoors in mid- to late autumn after the first frost but before the first hard freeze. This timing produces flowering in March and April – often around Easter time.

For indoor planting and Christmastime flowering, plant your hyacinth bulbs in September.

Tips for Uses and Placement for Your Hyacinths

Hyacinth flowers sprouting from bulbs

Hyacinths don’t need huge plots of soil. In fact, they may be grown in small vases or as hydroponic plants.

©iStock.com/OlgaMiltsova

  • Hyacinths are some of the earliest bloomers of the season, so they are an excellent choice for bee gardens.
  • Hyacinths make amazing border plants, particularly along walkways entering the home. This allows you to enjoy the aroma of their heady fragrance the whole pathway walk.
  • Hyacinths are often planted with daffodils, early double tulips, emperor tulips, and other early spring bloomers to add vibrancy and fragrance for an early-season display.
  • Hyacinths grown indoors thrive as hydroponic plants. They require a special hourglass-shaped “vase” for proper growth, but these are available for sale online and in-person at many garden centers and plant stores. Even many grocery stores offer these as the season begins.
  • Hyacinths also do well as container plants. Be sure to plant them 10 to 12 weeks before your preferred bloom time. This is approximately how long it will take the flowers to pop out.
  • Place them in full sun for the best effect. They will also flower well in half-day sun or light shade.
  • The flowers are winter hardy in Zones 4 to 8 but must be pre-chilled in warmer environments.
  • Plant hyacinths en masse to take advantage of their fragrance.
Large flower bed with multi-colored hyacinths

Take full advantage of their heady aroma by planting them en masse.

©Kateryna Mashkevych/Shutterstock.com

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©


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About the Author

Sandy Porter is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering house garden plants, mammals, reptiles, and birds. Sandy has been writing professionally since 2017, has a Bachelor’s degree and is currently seeking her Masters. She has had lifelong experience with home gardens, cats, dogs, horses, lizards, frogs, and turtles and has written about these plants and animals professionally since 2017. She spent many years volunteering with horses and looks forward to extending that volunteer work into equine therapy in the near future. Sandy lives in Chicago, where she enjoys spotting wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, owls, hawks, and skunks on her patio and micro-garden.

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