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Hyacinths provide stunning spring displays of fragrant blooms both in the garden and containers. You can have hyacinths flowering for Christmas, if you plant specially ‘prepared’ bulbs.
Specially ‘prepared’ (heat-treated) bulbs should be bought if you want blooms for Christmas (click on this link for the practical advice on growing for Christmas-flowering bulbs).
Hyacinth cultivars must be increased by vegetative propagation methods. They reproduce slowly by offsets, but the bulbs can be propagated by twin-scaling, chipping or scooping.
In 2008, a hyacinth trial was conducted at RHS Garden Wisley and a number of cultivars were awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). These include:
'Yellow Queen' AGM: Considered the best yellow hyacinth with a very even flower spike. Height 30cm (12in); inflorescence 17cm (6¾in) height, 7.5cm (3in) width, exterior yellow with white mid-rib cream-yellow and scented.
'Miss Saigon' AGM: A lovely, compact plant with deep wine-coloured flower spikes. Height 20cm (8in); inflorescence 15cm (6in) height, 9cm (3½in) width. Flowers vivid purple and scented.
'Jan Bos' AGM: Flowers have a distinct, reddish-pink colour; the stems stay upright when grown in the open ground. Foliage glaucous green, inflorescence 15cm (6in) high, 6.5cm (2½in) wide, stem brownish red.
RHS Plant SelectorRHS Plant FinderRHS Trials, AGMs
All parts of hyacinths, if ingested cause stomach upset and gloves should be worn when handling the bulbs as they may aggravate skin allergies. See the profile on harmful plants for more information. Slugs can be a problem during mild periods and bulbs that show any sign of disease should be destroyed to prevent the disease spreading. Likewise, protection against squirrels is wise.
BulbsBulbs for Christmas floweringBulbs: plantingBulbs: propagationContainers: planting upContainers: winter selectionCrown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis)DaffodilsRHS Hyacinthaceae - little blue bulbs trials bulletinTulips
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