Hyacinths, with their fragrant blooms, begin peeking up through your garden in early to mid-spring. Their fragrance floats through the air letting us know that Spring is here! The Grow Monster has always enjoyed gardens containing various spring bulbs and the Hyacinth is no exception. Read on to learn the more important factor in determining whether it is too late to plant Hyacinths.
Is it too late to plant Hyacinths? Hyacinth bulbs should be planted after the first frost, while the ground is still workable to give the bulbs 12-14 weeks of lower temperatures
As long as you keep this one important factor in mind, you can ensure it is not too late to plant Hyacinths. There are a few more tips that I would like to mention to help you get the best blooms you can from this early fragrant flower.
- Plant Hyacinth bulbs after the first frost, while the ground is still workable.
- Make sure the bulbs have at least 12 weeks of 40-45 F (4.4-7.2 C).
- Plant Hyacinths in well-draining, moist soil.
When Should You Plant Hyacinth?
Hyacinth bulbs should be planted after the first frost, while the ground is still workable. Hyacinths need temperatures 40-45 F (4.4-7.2 C) for about 12 to 14 weeks. This will usually occur mid to late fall in zones 3-8 where Hyacinths do best. If you live in zone 9, you may need to dig up your bulbs each year to give them a proper amount of cooler temperatures to bloom in the spring.
If you don’t know when you average first frost date is, you can find your location on the Weather map below and see which dates coincide with your area. If you want a more specific date, you can input your zip code or city, state in the box below to use the National Gardening Association app to pull up your local average first frost date.
Data is provided by the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Hyacinth bulbs prefer moist soil, but don’t let the soil get too boggy otherwise they will be susceptible to bulb rot. Take your dry bulbs, and plant them in a well-draining, yet moist soil. Some studies show that coco peat is a great growing medium for Hyacinths and will help produce larger blooms. You could even mix some sand in to add extra aeration if growing in pots, or take some coco peat and mix in to your soil as you plant the bulbs outside. If you do plant in pots, keep in mind that you should treat them 2 zones colder than your location.
Plant the Hyacinth bulbs about 2 times as deep as they are high, making sure to put the tip up and the growing base, where you may see some roots already formed, pointing down. You want to plant them in a sunnier location to help keep them dry after they have bloomed. You may also add some mulch to the top to help maintain soil moisture, but be careful of too much moisture that can cause bulb rot. Many people choose to plant Hyacinths with Tulips and Daffodils in their gardens, you can read more about when to plant Tulips here and when to plant Daffodils in this article here.
What Happens if You Plant Hyacinth Too Early?
In order to avoid being too late to plant Hyacinths, you may decide to plant them earlier. Anytime before the first frost in your zone would be considered too early and may lead to a delayed time period for blooms in the spring. An experiment was conducted to see if there was a difference between bloom time in different levels of nutrients in the soil where Hyacinth bulbs were planted. The study was conducted over several years and showed, no matter the nutrient levels in the soil, planting Hyacinth bulbs early prolonged flowering by an average of 21 days.
The experiment showed planting the bulbs only 15 days earlier delayed all the bulbs from blooming about 21 days. Some people may want to intentionally plant the bulbs earlier in order to facilitate more of an Easter display in their garden beds. Or, you could stagger planting your bulbs for a more continuous blooming season.
Some horticulturists recommend planting Hyacinth bulbs a little earlier in order to allow the bulb time to grow more roots. The only thing to watch out for is early growth when the Hyacinth starts popping above the soil earlier than usual. This can lead to frozen leaf tips, so it is something to keep in mind when determining whether you are planting your Hyacinths too early or ensuring it is not too late to plant Hyacinths.
Can You Plant Hyacinth in Winter?
You can plant Hyacinths in winter if you have not yet had your first frost date. You could even get away with planting them as late as December or January in some of the warmer zones (zone 7-8) as long as you ensure they will have enough time in lower temperatures at least 40- 45 F (4.4- 7.2 C). If you live in a colder zone, the ground may already be too frozen for you to dig deep enough to plant your bulbs. You can choose to use a pointed shovel or pick axe like this one found on Amazon to get through the frozen ground.
If the ground is too frozen, you can always plant the bulbs in pots and keep in your garage or plant the bulbs right on the soil but cover them with soil about 2 times as deep as they are high and a layer of mulch on the top for insulation. When the ground is more workable, you can then dig them out and plant where you prefer them.
If there is not enough time of cold temperatures, your Hyacinth bulbs may not flower or will create weaker, shorter stems and not as many florets on the stems. This is something to be mindful of if you are planting later in winter because it will be too late to plant Hyacinths if the bulbs won’t have enough time in cooler temperatures. If you’ve already bought the bulbs, you can always try planting them anyways or leave them in a fridge to receive the cooler temperatures longer and then plant outside for later blooms.
Can You Plant Hyacinth in Spring?
It is too late to plant Hyacinths in spring because the root system will not have a chance to grow robust enough to support a healthy flower. The Hyacinths really need that period of time to grow strong root systems and store the hormone Gibberellin, which helps the plant with stem elongation and flowering. You may try planting them in early spring but may only get foliage or very short or floppy stems with very few florets. An experiment was conducted planting bulbs are various times and the ones planted earlier were more robust, stronger stems, and more florets than those planted later.
There is one notable exception to planting Hyacinths in spring: if you have chilled your bulbs in the fridge, it will not be too late to plant Hyacinths in spring. This is because the most important thing Hyacinths need is that period of cool temperature the most. As soon as the ground can be worked, take the chilled Hyacinth bulbs out of the fridge and plant them at a depth about 2 times as deep as they are high in an area of your garden that gets full sun and will not have standing water- Hyacinths do not like soggy soil.
Can You Plant Hyacinth in Summer?
Summer is too late to plant Hyacinths. Summer is the period of time that the Hyacinth goes dormant. The bulb has finished blooming in the spring and the foliage remains in order to absorb nutrients to prepare the plant for next year’s blooms. If you plant Hyacinths in the summer, the bulb may also suffer from mold and can rot from too much water depending on where you plant it in your garden.
Hyacinths that are planted in summer may begin growing foliage too soon and this can cause several problems. The growth may be very weak- short, floppy stems, few leaves, or all leaves. Alternatively, if the plant begins growing at the incorrect time because it was too late to plant Hyacinths the leaf tips can suffer frostbite and die back, this can harm the bulb and may even stop it from flowering the following spring.
Many people may receive potted Hyacinths for Easter, after all they are beautiful indoors and will bloom for a few weeks. By the time the plant has finished blooming, you may be tempted to plant it outside. But, let the foliage continue growing until yellow. You may choose to take the container outside in full sun while the bulb is beginning to store nutrients for next spring. Then, once the foliage has died back you can dig the bulb out and store it in a cool place until after the first frost to plant outside.
Hydrangeas are beautiful spring flowers whose fragrance is even used in perfumes. You can enjoy these flowers each spring if you remember this one important thing: Hyacinths need a period of low temperatures, otherwise it will be too late to plant Hyacinths. They may not bloom as full in subsequent years, so you may want to plant a few new ones each year to enjoy both large and smaller blooms over the years.
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