By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Dependable spring-blooming bulbs, hyacinths provide chunky, spiky blooms and a sweet fragrance year after year. Although most gardeners find it easier and faster to purchase hyacinth bulbs, hyacinth propagation by seeds or offset bulbs is easier than you may think. Want to learn more about propagating and growing hyacinth bulbs? Keep reading!
Warning: According to many sources, hyacinth seeds are often sterile, while others state that planting seeds is an easy, dependable way to start a new plant.
If you decide to give propagation of hyacinths by seed a try, remove the seeds from a healthy hyacinth bloom after the flower has faded.
Fill a planting tray with a compost-based potting mix formulated for seed starting. Spread the seeds evenly on the surface of the potting mix, then cover the seeds with a thin layer of clean horticultural grit or clean, coarse sand.
Water the seeds, then place the tray in a cool greenhouse, cold frame or other cool location and allow them to ripen, undisturbed, for a year. After the hyacinth seeds have ripened for a year, seedlings are ready to transplant into pots, or directly into the garden and cared for as usual.
If you would like to know how to propagate bulbs of hyacinth rather than seed grow them, no problem. In fact, this method of hyacinth propagation is quite simple.
As the foliage has died down, you will notice small offset bulbs growing at the base of the main bulb. Dig deeply around the outer perimeter of the plant because the offset bulbs may be hidden deep in the soil. When you locate the bulbs, gently separate them from the parent plant.
For a naturalized look, simply toss the bulbs on the ground and plant them wherever they land. Allow any remaining top growth to die away naturally. Growing hyacinth bulbs is just that easy!
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Roman hyacinths, sometimes called French hyacinths (Bellevalia romana) grow between 6 and 12 inches tall with white, pale blue or pink flowers. Roman hyacinths are shorter than the Dutch versions. This spring-blooming flower grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7b through 11 in well-drained soil and full sunlight. Hyacinths exhibit the signs of needing propagation when the blooms become shorter are uneven and the plant height is uneven due to crowding.
Remove the spent hyacinth blooms with pruning shears. Allow the leaves to remain on the plants for six weeks or until they turn brown.
Loosen the soil about four to six inches from the base of hyacinths with a trowel to reveal the bulbs. Take care not to cut into any larger adult or smaller offspring bulbs. Lift the bulbs up out of the ground.
Place the bulbs in a pan lined with damp paper towels as you dig each plant up.
Grasp the bulbs and pull each smaller bulb off the original bulbs in the center or on the sides of the clusters. Each bulb should have some roots at the bottom. Discard small bulbs without roots.
Loosen the soil in the planting bed with a hoe to a depth that is three times as deep as the largest bulb is tall.
Add 2 cups of bone meal and 5 tablespoons of 10-10-10- soluble fertilizer for each 10 foot square section of the planting bed. Work the bone meal and fertilizer into the soil thoroughly.
Make a hole in the planting bed for each bulb that is two to three times the depth as the bulb is tall. Space the holes three to six inches apart. Insert the bulbs and pull the soil around them. The roots should be in the bottom of the holes with the bulbs' noses pointing upward. Cover the bulbs with soil and pack the soil down tightly with your hands.
Water the transplants thoroughly after planting them. Supply the bulbs with 1 inch of water per week in dry seasons and throughout the growth and blooming seasons.
Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch on top of the hyacinth bed to minimize temperature fluctuations. When tips emerge from the bulbs in the spring, rake the mulch away from the hyacinths.
Fragrant herbaceous perennials from the Liliaceae family, hyacinth plants (Hyacinthus) have been flowering garden staples in the West since the 1700s. The hyacinth comes from the eastern Mediterranean region and Asia, favoring full to partial sun and well-drained soil in U.S. hardiness zones 4 to 9. With blooms of red, pink, yellow, blue, purple and white appearing in May, these bulbous specimens make a sunny garden or indoor pot burst with spring color. Although a true bulb plant, the hyacinth does not easily propagate alone, and requires some human intervention to promote offset growth.
Locate the basal plate at the bottom of a hyacinth's bulb. Hyacinths have tunicate bulbs, which contain a section of fleshy tissue, the basal plate and the roots at the bottom of the shoot. The roots come directly out of the basal plate.
Scoop the basal plate away from the bulb by slicing through the bulb with a curved scalpel. This will remove the shoot and its flower bud, opening up the part of the bulb that produces new bulbs.
Treat the cut side of the bulb with a fungicide to prevent problems from developing while the new bulbs grow.
Place the cut bulb upside-down in a dark, warm area for a few weeks, until the bulb heals. Wait until new bulbs grow their own roots before pulling them off the original bulb.
Plant new hyacinth bulbs in pots or flower beds after the growing season is over.
A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.
Hyacinths start their lives in your garden as perennial bulbs. Looking at a dry, colorless bulb, it's hard to imagine the miracle that is going to turn that bulb into a gorgeous, marvelously scented flower. But it happens, and can continue to happen spring after spring. Hyacinth bulbs do best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8.
Planted in well-drained, fertile soil in autumn before winter frosts, they grow into blooming plants in early spring. The flowers grow on thick green stalks, with lance-shaped green leaves. The blossoms may be loosely or densely clustered, and come in a range of shades – pink, red, blue, purple and white. They make lovely cut flowers, and even just a few will fill your home with perfume.
Once the flowers fade, they won't bloom again until the following spring. The bulbs must gather the food they require to live through the rest of the year. For that, the leaves are essential. You can clip out the flower stalks as soon as the blossoms fade in the garden, but allow the leaves to continue growing to gather energy for next year's flowers. Let the leaves grow until they wilt naturally as summer approaches. While the leaves remain green, provide the plants with water during dry periods.
Most varieties of modern hyacinth plants are propagated from bulbs originally developed in Holland. Growing them from seeds is very difficult, so be prepared for a low success rate of germination. Follow these suggestions to prepare and start the hyacinth seeds in their development.
You will need a shady location, protected from wind and rodents, for germinating seeds outdoors starting in the spring. Soil should be a bit sandy for good drainage. Line the planting bed with landscape cloth to discourage the growth of weeds that will overwhelm the fragile seedlings.
Dig out an area 3 feet long by 18 inches wide, to the depth of the planting trays. Line this area with landscape cloth, with an additional 3 inches at each long side to be folded over the edges of the trays. This area will hold 6 trays 18 inches long. Press the landscape cloth down into the base of the bed and secure it on the edges with garden staples.
Fill the planting trays with:
Sow the seeds into the soil to a depth of 1 inch (12 mm), about ½-inch apart.
Lay the planting trays in the bed, and fold the landscape cloth over the edges of the outer two trays. Pack in soil around all 3 trays in the planting bed. Thoroughly water all 3 trays.
Place a precut ¼-inch thick glass sheet over the planting tray to protect them from digging animals, rodents and other pests.
Keep the seed beds moist by watering twice weekly. The glass and landscape cloth will cut down on evaporation. The seeds should begin to sprout in anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Remove the glass after the first frost, and cover the beds with a cedar mulch. Lay another layer of landscape cloth over the top and loosely pin down to protect from ice. Allow the seedlings that do sprout to grow in the beds for a full year.
In their second year of growth, you can transplant the surviving seedlings. Find a spot in your garden with partial shade. Dig holes down 8 inches, put in ½-cup of organic mulch, and loosely sprinkle with soil. Plant the seedlings with full root structures 6 inches down in the soil.
Hyacinths grown from seed will take from 3 to 6 years to produce flowers. Protect transplants with landscape cloth around the stems and organic mulch.