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What is Hyacinthus?

Casey Kennedy
Casey Kennedy

The Hyacinthus is a bulbous perennial herb that is a member of the lily family. The Hyacinthus orientalis is more commonly known as the hyacinth. A spring flowering plant that blooms around the same time as tulips, the hyacinth generally grows to a height of 12 inches (30.5 cm) and produces a burst of colorful bell-shaped flowers. These flowers grow on a central stalk in the middle of narrow lance-shaped leaves. Blooms come in a variety of colors and may range from orange to blue or appear in shades of white, pink or lavender.

The plant's name comes from Greek mythology. Although there are several versions of the story, one version of this legend has it that the Greek gods, Apollo and Zephyr, favored Hyacinthus, who was an attractive discus thrower. One day, Hyacinthus was teaching Apollo how to throw a discus when Zephyr became jealous and blew the discus back, killing the young hero. From his blood, a flower grew, and Apollo gave it the name Hyacinthus.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

When growing outdoors, bulbs are generally planted in the fall six to eight weeks before hard frosts are expected. In areas with milder winters, individuals should plant bulbs when the soil temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.55 Celsius). Hyacinth does best in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 3 through 9.

Individuals can plant the bulbs in an area where they will receive full sun to partial shade. They should dig holes 6 to 8 inches (15.24 to 20.32 cm) in depth, and space bulbs 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm) apart. Bulbs are then planted with the nose end up and covered with soil. Planters can water the bulbs after planting.

Once the flowers have bloomed, individuals can allow the plants to continue growing. This will provide them with the energy they need to bloom again for the following year. Flower stalks may be cut at this time, but planters should continue to let the leaves grow until they begin to brown and fade away on their own.

Hyacinth is also suitable for growing indoors for blooms in late winter. Individuals can plant the bulbs just below the soil’s surface in a pot that is at least 5-inches (12.7 cm) deep. Placing the pot with bulbs in the refrigerator, planters can allow the bulbs to germinate for 10 to 12 weeks. Then, planters can move the pot to a slightly warmer temperature of 50 degrees F (10 C) until shoots begin to form. Once shoots appear, owners can place the pot in a warmer area to provide the proper temperatures for blooming.

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