Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Caring for Hyacinth (or any spring bulbs) Indoors and Out

     I have been buying Hyacinth flowers for Valentines Day for the last 30 years. Way back in those days when I was a young art student I had read about the Greek Myth of Hyacinthus. There are many versions but it ends in a Hyacinth sprouting from the blood of said character. Thinking this was one of the most romantic and most gay thing I had heard of in antiquity I adopted it as a way to "reclaim gay history" which is how we talked in art school in those days!

     Here is a Baroque looking painting of the story, look it up if you like, it involves a love triangle, a discus, one jealous God and one more figure of Mythology sprouting into some kind of plant, there are many stories like this about flowers and trees from the Ancient Greeks.

     I usually buy a potted Hyacinth or a few, sometimes they come in 3's, right around this time of year from my local grocery store, look around, get a deal! You can usually tell the colour from the bud, if not the tag. My preference is purple or the Delft Blue variety, you can see the streaks of colour on most buds as they emerge from the leaves except for white which will appear light green.
Place in a bright or sunny window, it says not to but I've had no problems in full sun, and water regularly. The blooms will fill your house with the scent of spring for a week or so. 
After the flowers have faded leave the green stem and leaves to wither naturally, keep watering on a regular basis, once or twice a week, also fertilize once or twice a month for the next few months. By May place the whole plant outside to finish off its growth cycle, continue fertilizing and watering until around July, by this time they should be fading away completely. Leave in a dry place indoors or out until September. They must be kept dry during this rest period over the summer.

     Hopefully you will have marked a spot where you can plant Hyacinth bulbs back in April or May when you know where all the bulbs you have are planted? Don't make my mistake and drive a shovel into perfectly innocent bulbs in the fall because you are sure there is nothing there! Anyway, simply remove the bulbs from the dry soil and the dried leaves and plant 6 to 8 inches deep around late September. Next Spring you will have new Hyacinth to delight you for many years! You can also do this for any bulb you may buy during this time of year, Tulip, Daffodil, Crocus etc.