Flower spotlight: hyacinths
Hyacinths are a boldly colored spring bloom that are native to Israel, Turkey, and other areas of the Mediterranean. The name originated in Greek mythology. Hyacinth blooms are said to have sprung up from the blood of a man named Hyacinth who was killed by Zephyr, the Grecian god of the west wind. The sun god Apollo was throwing a discus, and Zephyr, in a jealous rage, used the power of the west wind to throw it off course. The discus hit and killed young Hyacinth, then the blooms appeared.
Hyacinths have thick, bell-shaped, dense clusters of flowers that run up a tall stalk, and their distinctively sweet-smelling bloom is popular with plant lovers. The showy mid-spring bloom comes in a variety of sizes and shades, including purple, pink, white, red, and blue.
These perennials are primarily gifted as a potted bulb or in a basket or vase and are not generally used as a cut flower. Though they make great indoor plants, hyacinths can sometimes be replanted in a garden. The success of replanting depends almost entirely on the type of bulb and the geographic region.
They need well-drained soil and should be planted in September or October for an early spring bloom time. Though they can be planted at other times during the year, it’s important to get them in the ground before the topsoil freezes in the fall. As they’re growing and forming their root system, it’s helpful to provide some shade and ground cover for protection, but once they’re firmly rooted, they will need lots of sunlight.
A quick warning for anyone handling hyacinth bulbs: their bulbs contain calcium oxalate crystals, which create tiny, sharp spikes that are invisible to the naked eye. These spikes can cause skin irritation, so be sure to wear gloves when handling hyacinth bulbs.
Hyacinths make lovely additions to any home or garden. Just remember that they’re show flowers, so don’t be mad if they steal the spotlight from your other blooms with both their color and their sweet fragrance.