Hyacinths and their flowerings

danilisMarch 11, 2009

Hello there, I read and I experienced that Hyacinths do not bloom as thickly as the first year of flowering in the following years. This is because bulb becomes smaller and so the flowering will be poorer the next year.

Yes, ok, this is sure and the first advise I heard when I asked how to make them bloom as beautiful as the first time was: - Buy them again and enjoy the first flowering -.

I do not believe there is only that solution. I really think there is another way to have them as beautiful as the time you've bought them. I think that because dutch growers cultivate them and succeed obtaining giant and floriferous bulbs, so, why cannot I do the same? Why should I be able to make these bulbs so big again in order to let them bloom as much as possible?

I was asking myself how dutch growers do to sell Hyacinth's bulbs so floriferous. What are the main cultivation rules for that purpose?

Thank you very much in advance,


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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

danilis, I would like to know too! I have planted hyacinth bulbs with some daffodil bulbs. Yes, this year I will have big hyacinth, but next year smaller. :(
I don't want to have to replace them, as that would disturb the daffodil bulbs already in place.
The only information I can find is:
"The usual way to propogate Hyacinth bulbs is to dig them up in the early summer after their leaves have yellowed, and cut a half-inch-deep criss-cross through the basal plate; replant the bulbs, and by the following fall they should have produced bulblets where the original bulb was cut. Pull these off, replant them in a cold frame for the winter, and leave them there for several seasons before planting them in the garden."
This is not much help, as most of us don't have a cold frame, or don't have the time to take "several seasons" before planting them in the garden!
So, I may just let the bulbs be where they are and hope for the best, or replant some this fall, (maybe I plant them separate from the daffodils).
Sorry, which I could be more help, but like I said I would like to know that answer too! :)


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 6:03AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Count me too among those who would like to know.

I'm just guessing here, but think I may try my theory and see if it 'might' work.

See the bulb pic here.

My idea is to dig the bulb about 6-8 weeks after it has finished blooming.
Break off any new bulblets that are attached to it and replant those in an out of the way place so they can grow up to big bloom size.
Dry and store the mother bulbs in a cool dark place like one would daffodils, waiting until fall planting time.
Once the soil temp in the fall had dropped to 55 degrees F, then plant the mother bulbs.

I think it is because the hyacinth so readily propagates bulblets that it drains the mother bulb, resulting in smaller blooms...unlike daffodils that divide and multiply with the bloom size not being affected until they become too crowded (and small) to bloom.

What does anyone think? While I do not relish digging them annually, I would consider doing some that way to save having to purchase them yearly each fall.

I have 2 new varieties I planted last fall, and think I will try the above theory on them to see how big next springs blooms will be.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 10:22AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I dig my hyacinths every year since they must be chilled. I have never seen a bulblet on a bulb, so I doubt this is the reason they grow smaller. It would truly be interesting to know what the dutch do. Perhaps it's their climate?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:17PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

My guess is that it's a combination of a few things. First is that the bulbs are dug and replanted each year. Second is that the spring is long and cool, once the hot weather hits I think most spring bulbs start to go dormant, even before storing enough energy for good blooms. Finally I think they may remove the blooms as soon as they are up, without flowers all the energy the leaves produce goes down into making the bulb and future blooms larger.

It's my understanding that the tulip fields are "beheaded" soon after they open for the same reason.

.... but of course I don't know any of this for sure. If someone wants to fund a "research" trip to Holland, let me know!!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:57PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I dig my hyacinths every year since they must be chilled. I have never seen a bulblet on a bulb, so I doubt this is the reason they grow smaller.
I'm sure yours bloom earleir than mine do, but when do you dig yours? About 6 weeks after the blooms fade?

All of mine grow bulblets. The first year there will be a nice sized full bloom. The second year there will be a smaller less filled out bloom and maybe the foliage to a second bulb near it, or a second even smaller bloom.

If someone wants to fund a "research" trip to Holland, let me know!!
Will do Kato!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 12:32AM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

Kato is right. They disbud the hyacinths for a year or two so the bulb can store as much energy as possible. Then they dig them up and sell them.

I don't mind the sparser flowers. I think they look delicate and pretty.

If you want robust flowering in later years, try the kind with multiple flower spikes, like the Festival series. They also get sparser after the first year, but there's lots of flowers on all those stems and it really puts a nice shot of color in the garden. They bloom longer, too.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 12:23PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

This is very interesting. Yes, Sue, I do wait until the foliage begins to brown before I dig my bulbs. It may well be our climate that keeps them from off-setting. It's just not overly hospitable to hyacinths, although I have one friend (my non-gardener one) who bought hyacinths from a school child years ago, and they come up every year AND bloom with no chill, no fertilizer, in the most horrible soil imaginable. Go figure.

Ladychroe, I eye those Festivals every year. I keep hoping that Old House will get the old Romans that are supposed to do well in the deep south, but if they don't come out with them soon, I may have to try the Festivals. I am glad to hear about them from someone who grows them. I agree with you, I rather like the looser, airier look of subsequent years of bloom.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 6:55PM
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Thank you for the replies :-)

I guess the stratagem to cut away the flowers for few years can improve the bulb's size and it is what is done in Holland. I will not do it of course but I'm going to fertilize my bulbs much in order to have a good flowering the next year ;)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 2:09PM
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I planted hyacinth last year and they came up great. I just left them in the ground to see if they would rebloom, and sure enough they have. Yes, they are smaller, but most of them have more than one stalk, they still smell and look nice.

I think they cut the flower off very early to get the larger bulbs. I suppose you could do that, but that would mean skipping a year or two. You could try cutting off the secondary flower in hopes that the next year's one will be bigger.

Other than that, I think you would need new bulbs.

I replanted my bulbs from last year, the large and small, after digging them, and they're coming up, we'll see how they do. I ordered them from colorblends, my favorite site, and they send HUGE bulbs, so I think it might easier to get a couple of years out those, here in the south.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:29PM
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Zenobia the site you posted above is really interesting and seems a good seller but unfortunatly I guess they don't send their bulbs in Italy, where I live, but only to USA countries, do they?

However, I'm not going to cut off my poor Hyacinth's flowers. I will try to fertilize them with my special formula, let's see what will happen.

Dany :)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 3:32PM
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Nell Jean

I plant a few more hyacinths every year. I never dig them. They seem to prefer slightly raised beds with rich soil and excellent drainage. I tried Festival blue this year. They looked a little thin to me. Maybe next year they will improve.

Second year blooms are not as lush as the first year, but they regain strength in the second and subsequent years. Many will split over time, giving more than one stem of blooms.

You can see some of my results on my blog. I never discard a forced hyacinth.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hyacinth Pages on my Blog.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 6:33PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I have the pink festival hyacinths. Very prolific! I wish they came in more than 3 colors and were more widely available. I bought them at Scheepers end of season sale 5 or so years ago and could pave my garden with them by now. They are taller than regular hyacinths, leaves are narrower, and some can flop a bit. But they are beautiful, open and lacy looking. I have some of the regular ones too (this will be the third year for them) but did not realize they got smaller over time, just like tulips. Darn! I bought a bunch more last fall (~50), IÂm not sure I would have bothered if I knew.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 6:38PM
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The post about splitting bulbs interested me.

I have also left in my hyacinth bulbs for the past 5 years, and they still always bloom, but here is an informational website that explains how to propagate them with pictures. I am going to try this year just for fun.


Here is a link that might be useful: Colorado State - Propagation of bulbs

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 1:07PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Interesting link, thanks. Seems like a lot of work! But might be worth it for a rare variety.

The loose-flowered "Festival" type, produces MANY offsets that very quickly become blooming size. I bought 10 maybe 4-5 years ago and now have enough to plant in every bed. I tried to remove them from one bed where I decided not to grow bulbs anymore: and even though I thought I had it cleared 2 years ago, there must have been small offsets still there, because this year I see lots of flowers forming. The bigger bulbs throw up multiple stems.

I actually planted a lot of hyacinths in the last two falls. I didnÂt know they were not increasers like the Festival type. Maybe itÂs just as wellÂitÂs hard enough to keep up with daffodils that reproduce too quickly.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 7:59PM
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e36yellowm3(7 Raleigh, NC)

This was the second year for my hyacinths and they came up pretty well - two flower stalks where there was one last year; one very nice and one a little sparse. I think the key is to remove the stalk before it starts to set seeds (but let the flowers be, until they're done). It's the seed production that drains the bulb. I treated these bulbs just like my others - removed the stalk when the flowers were spent (i.e. deadheading them), let the green foliage stay on as long as it was still green, and fertilized a few times pretty well. I think these are the basic rules for any bulb, right? Alana

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 8:48PM
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tbenton(Z7 VA)

I planted my hyacinths 15 yrs ago and for a few years had beautiful spikes and then the green leaves would come up. For the last 10 years all I get is a bunch of tall leaves and not one flower spike. Every year I say I am going to dig them up in the fall and replant but today I decided to dig them up and start all over with new ones out of pure frustration. The bulbs were very large when I dug them up and down very deep. Could I have planted them too deep to begin with? Any tips when I start over? I have beautiful madonna lilies in the same bed and they never fail to come up and bloom.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 12:15PM
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I know this is a year and half later but I just found this thread and wanted to confirm that planting them too deep spoiled the blooms for me, too. I read that hyacinths love the cold so much that you can't kill them by freezing, so in our zones especially, you can feel safe planting them even so shallowly that their noses are peeking out of the ground and they don't mind. I did so and found that they bloomed beautifully, and were much less leggy than the ones that I planted 6+ inches deep. This fall, I am screwing up my courage and doing it again, even though part of me is still terrified lol.

And as for lousy blooming after the first year, that's why I'm here too... After a lot of reading, I'm convinced that the only solution is to "behead" the poor girls for a few years, and I for one just don't have the heart.

p.s. Alana, I saw your post and had an odd moment where I tried to remember writing that post before I realized I had simply run into only the third "other" Alana I have ever "met" lol. Nice to "meet" you. :)

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 10:19PM
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