How to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs

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How to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs

HiddenFromTOCHow to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs

  1. Firstly, it’s important to plant them in the autumn, before the first frost. Exposing them to cold temperatures tells the bulbs that spring is on the way! 
  2. Mix 5-5-10 plant feed into your soil to improve its quality .
  3. Water once planted, but do not overwater. Most hyacinths will receive enough water from rainfall in the UK.

Characterised by their exuberant and highly fragrant flowers, Hyacinths are loved in gardens all over the UK. These beautiful flowers can be grown either in the ground or in pots, indoors or out. 

The intense fragrance will fill your garden in the summer months, while the bright colours should produce a show stopping display year after year.  

What are Hyacinths?


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Modern hyacinth plants are perennials, meaning they come back year after year in white, blue, purple, pink and red. Bright, bold and sweet smelling, they are real statement-makers, and come in a range of sizes too. 

Hyacinths are native to Europe and Asia, thought to have been brought to the UK in 1596. The rainbow spread enhances any planting scheme, and they can grow to a height of 25 cm, with a spread of 10 cm. 

While Hyacinth blooms bring an old-fashioned, cottage-style charm to the front of a perennial garden, they look equally beautiful in modern gardens or hung above balconies in urban areas.

How to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs Outside


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 Hyacinths are very easy to grow, which is one of the reasons they have remained one of the UK’s favourites.

For optimal growth, your hyacinths should experience at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.  

Step 1: Choose the Right Time

For best results, hyacinths require a winter cooling period. This is why they are planted in the autumn, about a month before the first frost, ready to bloom in the middle of spring.

For at least 12 weeks they should be exposed to temperatures of no higher than 7°C. This tells the bulbs that spring is on its way and flower development should begin.

Step 2: Prepare the Soil

Choose a spot that has well-draining soil in a sunny location. They will tolerate light shade for a one-off display.  If your soil isn’t good quality, mix a 5-5-10 slow release plant feed into it. 

Step 2: Plant the Bulbs

Hyacinth bulbs can irritate your skin, so you should wear gloves while handling them. 

Hyacinth bulbs look like small onions, with roots growing out of one side. 

Dig a hole at around 6” deep. Place the bulbs in the soil with the roots pointing downwards and the spike pointing up. 

They should be placed around 2 times their height deep into the soil. Cover the bulb with soil. 

Plant the next bulb, leaving 3” between each. If you’re planting in a container, the bulbs can be planted slightly closer together. 

Step 3: Water Thoroughly

Once the bulbs have been planted, water them well to encourage the soil to settle. 

Step 4: Leave to Grow

Once planted, hyacinths require very little care. As long as the soil remains moist, they shouldn’t need watering. 

How to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs in Containers


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Potted hyacinths will liven up any balcony or patio, and the fragrant blooms will also fill the space with a gorgeous sweet smell. 

Ensure the pot has very good drainage (as hyacinths don’t like wet feet!) and fill it with multi-purpose compost. Place the bulbs on the layer of compost. Plant the bulbs around 2” apart if you’re only wanting them for a year, then fill the space around them with compost, leaving the top of the bulb visible.

For a lasting display that comes back every year, use a soil-based compost and plant them a little further apart (around 3”). Add fertiliser to the compost every spring and the flowers should bloom year after year.

How to Grow Hyacinths Indoors


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Hyacinths add a splash of colour to any indoor space, and make great houseplants. You should ensure you purchase bulbs which have already been heat-treated so that they flower earlier. 

Add hyacinth bulbs to a layer of damp compost in a pot, an inch or so apart. Add compost on top until the bulb tips just about poke through. 

Cover the containers and put them in a cold dark place such as an unheated garage. Leave for 10 weeks and water if the compost feels dry. 

When shoots begin to grow, bring the containers inside and place them in a cool but bright spot, near a sunny window. They should flower in around 3 weeks. 

Hyacinth Care Guide


Hyacinths like their soil to be moist, not fully dry or overly wet. In the UK, you shouldn’t find you need to water hyacinths very often. A good rule of thumb is to check whether the top 3” of soil is dry. If it is, they need water. 

You should water from soil level, not using a sprinkler which can cause the plants to get too wet. 


Hyacinths prefer well-draining, moderately fertile soil. The ideal pH is between 6.0 and 7.0.

If you have soil that’s low in nutrients, add a few inches of mature compost to improve the quality. 


Hyacinths prefer either full sun or part shade. You should aim to give them at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Planting in full sun will lead to the straightest stems and the largest flowers. 


If your hyacinths are in borders, add a general purpose fertiliser in late February to encourage the flowers to blossom.

If you’ve got potted hyacinths, a high-potassium feed can be added in the early spring. Provided you have good quality soil, with organic matter and mulch, you shouldn’t need to fertilise them too. 


While hyacinths don’t need ‘pruning’, they do need cutting back when the flowers start to fade. 

Once your hyacinths have finished flowering, remove the blooms and not the foliage with a clean pair of shears. 

At the end of spring, the foliage will naturally die back. Once the leaves turn brown, the foliage can be removed. 

Winter Protection

In most areas, hyacinth bulbs can remain in the ground throughout the year. 

In warmer areas (where winter temperatures stay above 15°C), the bulbs will need to be dug up and refrigerated. 

If your soil isn’t particularly well drained, you should remove the bulbs, clean off the soil and store them in a cold, dark area ready for replanting in the spring.  

Hyacinth FAQs

Do hyacinths grow back every year? 

Hyacinths are a perennial plant which means that, with the right care, they should come back every year. 

Ensure you cut back the flowers properly once they have faded, and apply a fertiliser to your soil in the spring to encourage them to flower. 

Are hyacinths toxic to humans? 

Hyacinths are toxic to humans and the bulbs can cause skin irritation if handled with bare hands. You should wear gloves when handling and planting the hyacinths. 

How long do hyacinths last?

Hyacinths can bloom for up to 12 weeks with the right care, but will go dormant after this time. The flowers will die first, and eventually the leaves will wither. 

If the flowers are cut, they should last for around 2 weeks. 

Are hyacinths toxic to pets? 

Like many spring flowers, hyacinths are toxic to cats and dogs. They contain calcium oxalate which can lead to stomach and respiratory issues if ingested by a cat or dog. They can also cause skin irritation. This substance is found in the bulbs, foliage and flowers of the plant. 

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