The Hyacinth gets its name from Greek mythology. According to legend, Apollo, the god of sun, gave the name to the flower which grew from the blood of one of his followers, Hyakinthos, when he was killed. Its botanical name is Hyacinthus orientalis.
There are a number of different varieties. These include the Anna Marie which is salmon in colour, the Splendid Cornelia which has flowers coloured a delicate pink, the Carnegie which has white flowers and the Delft blue which has blue flowers. These are the most common colours, but other, more unusual ones include dark purples, reds, navy, yellows and oranges.
The Hyacinth has been cultivated in Western Europe for over five hundred years. Today, the majority of Hyacinth bulbs are grown in either Great Britain or Holland.
The flowering period starts in November and carries through to April. Hyacinths should be propagated during the summer months because this is when the flowers are dormant. You can do this by removing offsets.
The Hyacinth belongs to the genus Hyacinthus, which is a member of the Asparagaceae family.
Hyacinth bulbs should be planted in the autumn, at least 10 cm deep. They prefer well-drained soil which is moderately fertile and do best in a sheltered spot. They will take a year or two to reach their full height. Bulbs planted in containers should be protected from excessive winter wetness. The bulbs can be lifted after flowering or left in a bed. If you do lift them, dry them out carefully before you store them. They can then be replanted in the autumn. They will not require pruning and are generally resistant to disease.
Did you know?
The ancient Spartans celebrated an annual three-day festival in honour of Hyacinth. Held every summer, the festival would include one day to mourn the divine hero, and a further two celebrating his rebirth as Apollo Hyakinthios.