Heavenly Hyacinths

    • There’s still time to plant bulbs. Consider putting some in containers so you can enjoy the flowers on your patio or by the front door.
    • Plant snapdragons, pansies and violas for color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • Dress up your interior landscape with some new houseplants for the holidays ahead.
    • Spray for peach leaf curl with copper spray. Peach and nectarine trees may suffer from this fungus disease without a protective spray.
    • Tie red raspberry canes to wires; prune to 1 foot above the top wire or wrap the canes around the top wire.

Heavenly Hyacinths

The Hyacinth family is relatively small compared to other bulbs. Native to the Mediterranean region and South Africa, they were made famous by the Dutch in the 18th century. In fact, they became so popular that 2,000 kinds were said to be cultivated in Holland, the chief commercial producer, at that time.

The common, or Dutch, hyacinth has a single dense spike of star-shaped flowers ranging in color from pure white to yellow, salmon, pink, blue, purple, and near red. Colorful as its flowers may be, the true joy of the Dutch hyacinth lies in its delightful, pervading fragrance. Even a few bulbs suffice to instill the garden with a heady scent.

The peculiarities of the soil and climate of Holland are so favorable to the production of hyacinths that Dutch florists have made a specialty of growing them. Virtually all hyacinth bulbs available in this country are imported from Holland.

Plant bulbs 4 to 6 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart, in a sunny, well-drained area in beds and borders. They are especially appropriate for formal plantings. Plant a few near a doorway so the heady perfume can waft inside each time to door is opened.

For a more informal look, mix hyacinths of various colors with tulips, daffodils, pansies, primroses and other spring-blooming flowers. They make excellent cut flowers.

Few plants are better adapted than the hyacinth for forcing in pots. By starting them in early September, they can be forced into bloom as early as Christmas. To keep up a succession of bloom, others should be potted every few weeks through November.

When planting, the pot should be loosely filled with enough planting medium so the top of the bulbs will be even with the top of the pot. Place 1 hyacinth bulb in a 4-inch pot, 3 bulbs in a 6-inch pot, and as many as possible in larger pots. You can also grow them in hyacinth vases, special glass vases with a pinched neck and bulb-sized “cup” at the top.

Either way, you need to keep them in a cool, dark place (from 35° to 48°F) for 13 weeks to establish roots. Then bring them into the light and they will quickly send up a flower spike and bloom in 2 to 3 weeks. Hyacinths can be planted in the garden after they are finished blooming. Many of them will flower again after 1 to 2 years.

Planted in clumps of single colors or arranged in masses of contrasting colors, they add a bright and happy tone to the garden. Forced for indoor display, they fill the house with a heavenly fragrance.

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