Photo: Hans Splinter
Hyacinths were first found growing in Asia, but because of the efforts of Dutch growers, there are now many varieties in the genus “Hyacintha.” Most bloom in the spring from bulbs planted in the fall.
The showiest are the bedding size ones with masses of florets completely surrounding 10” stems. They are dramatic planted in the sun in groups. Probably because of their strong fragrance, deer avoid them.
Deer also avoid the smaller, very hardy and versatile grape hyacinth “muscari” which will grow in sun or shade. Its flowers are small and bell shaped, arranged in a cone, and held erect on six-inch stems. They are a wonderful cobalt blue, which is rare in flowers, but white and paler blues have also been developed. They multiply and are great mixers with other spring flowers and naturalize happily.
Another hyacinth “non-scripta” also naturalizes well and is actually the English woodland blue bell, which thrives in shade. These bulbs were first brought to England from Persia in the 16th century, but are now considered to be thoroughly English. Look for them under the name of wood hyacinth.
Whether you prefer the large hyacinths that are synonymous with the Dutch, or the smaller ones beloved by the Brits, do plant some hyacinth bulbs this fall.