Plant Now: Hyacinths


There’s still time to plant hyacinth bulbs – in fact, they like a cooler ground, just like tulips. Any time up to early June is fine. And, like tulips, hyacinth bulbs are best chilled in the fridge for a few weeks before planting to promote strong root and flower growth.

Plant bulbs about 10cm deep in free-draining soil in full sun. Once growth emerges, feed with bulb food.

If you prefer to grow your hyacinths indoors, plant in a hyacinth vase instead. They’re cheap to buy and available pretty much everywhere – even an ordinary glass vase with a narrow neck is suitable.

Place a decent-sized bulb in the neck of your hyacinth vase and fill the vase with water to just below the bulb. Add a quarter teaspoon of cut flower food to provide nutrients as the bulb grows.

Place the vase in a cool, dark spot for two months. The bulbs must be kept cool to allow development of the bud inside the bulb or it won’t flower. Check weekly to ensure the water level remains just below the base of the bulb to encourage root growth.

After two months, bring the vase out into a dimly lit place. Then slowly (over a period of three weeks) bring the vase into stronger light and a warm position (not more than 18deg C).

Four to six weeks after bringing the vase out of its cool, dark spot, your flower will be in full bloom. Keep out of full sun.

This beautiful hyacinth photo comes from the marvellous Decor8 site.


  1. Query, please Jane.
    The hyachints are finished flowering. Do I cut the stem with the flowers off the plant, or just let the whole lot die back down?
    Advice appreciated.

  2. Hi Jane,
    I am wanting to plant hyacinths to have for my daughters wedding at the end of April next year . What would be the best method of doing this. What time should I plant the bulbs and would I be able to mass plant in terracotta pots? Finding a cool place maybe a problem over the summer months??
    Hope you can advise me.
    Many thanks,

    • Hi Jan
      I asked Paul Hoek of NZ Bulbs who is an expert on all things bulbs. He says:

      “It’s not possible to do this with NZ-grown bulbs as they need a good warm rest period in summer and then are planted in March/April. No amount of forcing will have them flowering at the end of April, 4 months in advance of their normal time.

      This could only be done using imported northern hemisphere bulbs, which is what commercial growers do to have hyacinths flowering from Mother’s Day (May) onwards through the winter. To do this, they’re planted in November and given the winter they would normally have in Europe by storage in large chillers. By April they’ve had enough winter in the chillers. When they come out, the bulbs think it is spring and start to flower.

      Doing this tends to be restricted to a commercial scale as you need to be able to get the bulbs, and you need a controlled chiller as there is a temperature regime to be followed, it’s not just plant and bung in the fridge.

      You may be able to place an order through a local flower wholesaler for potted forced hyacinths and then plant them, pot and all, in the larger terracotta pots to create the effect.”

  3. 2 months ago I was given 3 lovely white hyacinths in a pot. Now that the flowers have finished, I would like to plant them outside. They have leaves still. Do the leaves die back eventually? When is the best time to plant them outside?

    Thanks Ruth

    • Hi Ruth
      Unlike bulbs planted in the ground, forced blooms have been through a pretty exhausting process, so they’re unlikely to flower again if left indoors. You can replant them outside as you have suggested, but flowering will be a bit hit and miss. Here’s what you can do, though, to get the most out of them. Hyacinth bulbs forced in water, without any soil or direct outdoor sunlight to nourish the bulb, won’t rebloom, so these should be discarded. Hyacinths grown in pots (like yours) may reflower the following season if planted out, but the blooms are likely to be smaller and less robust. They may do better with a year of leaf growth, and reflower the second year after planting out. Keep the bulbs in the pots and place the pot outside where it receives some sun. Water and feed the plant until the leaves die down naturally. Then replant the bulbs in your garden.

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