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A field of pink and purple hyacinth flowers among green leaves
Hyacinth is a highly perfumed spring-flowering bulb that can be grown in the garden or in pots for outdoor and indoor decoration.


What you need to know about hyacinth

Name: hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis).

Height: 30–40cm, depending on variety.

Foliage: elongated or linear, mid-green, soft/sappy from onion-like bulb.

Climate: temperate to cool temperate; needs cold winter to initiate growth and flowers. 

Soil: well-drained loam with added organic matter.

Position: full sun.

Flowering: sturdy stems of densely packed, fleshy flowers; colours from pure white to deep crimson.

Feeding: use a long-term controlled-release fertiliser in soil preparation; feed again after flowers finish.

Watering: don't overwater; winter rain is usually adequate until leaves appear, then keep moist, but not wet.

Appearance and characteristics of hyacinth

Hyacinth grows from bulbs planted in autumn. Leaves are deep green and strappy, while flowers are carried on sturdy stems usually well clear of the leaves. The densely packed blooms range in colour from blue through white to deep pink. Mass-planted, they create stunning displays and are notable for their strong fragrance. 

A purple hyacinth flower covered in water droplets

How to plant and grow hyacinth

Bulbs should be planted into the garden or set into pots in autumn, before the first frost. They prefer a bright, sunny position, well-drained soil and a cool to mild climate – they won’t do well in warm climates that don’t experience a true winter.

Safety tip: Be sure to wear gloves when handling the bulbs as they are toxic and can cause skin irritation.

Growing hyacinth in the garden

  1. Dig soil over, remove weeds and add in compost or well-weathered animal manure.
  2. Plant bulbs with tips upward and about 10cm (or twice the depth of the bulb) below soil level. 
  3. Space bulbs about 8–10cm (twice their width) apart. 
  4. When mass planting, reduce spacing to 5cm apart. 
  5. Cover lightly – don’t compact the soil. 
  6. Water in if the soil is dry and keep moist but not wet until shoots appear. 

Growing hyacinth in pots

  1. Choose a wide bowl or “squat pot” shape rather than a traditional deep pot. 
  2. Cover the drain holes with flywire mesh to prevent the potting mix from washing out. 
  3. Fill the bowl or pot two-thirds full of premium-quality bulb potting mix. 
  4. Position bulbs close together, but not directly touching. 
  5. Add bulb mix so they are covered by at least their own depth. 
  6. Water well, then allow to drain. 
  7. Place pot in a cool, dark place and leave there until shoots are 5cm high. 
  8. Move the pot to a bright, sunny spot, and don’t forget to water occasionally. 
  9. Take pot inside when flowers are present. 

Growing hyacinth in bulb vases

Hyacinth bulbs can also be grown in a specially designed bulb “vase”. 

  1. Put a couple of pieces of charcoal in the bottom of the vase to keep the water fresh. 
  2. Add water so the base of the bulb will just touch the surface.  
  3. Sit the bulb in the neck of the vase. 
  4. Put the vase in a cool, darkened room or cupboard. Check the water level regularly. 
  5. As soon as a flower bud is seen in the centre of the leaves, move to a well-lit spot. 
  6. After flowering, discard the bulb – it won’t do well in the garden or a pot next year.

How to care for hyacinth

Like other bulbs, hyacinth uses the food reserves in the bulb to produce its leaves and flowers. It is not necessary to add bulb food to the soil during preparation.

The time to feed bulbs is after flowering and before the leaves die down. During this period, new bulbs are developing under the soil for the following year, and this process requires plenty of available food. 

When flowers are fading, apply a quality slow- or controlled-release fertiliser for flowering plants, as directed on the label, to bulbs in the garden and in pots.

From planting until shoots appear, hyacinth bulbs don’t like too much moisture. Usually winter rainfall is adequate, but if the season is extremely dry, you may need to water every two or three weeks. 

  • While they are growing and flowering, keep them moist, but never wet.
  • When the leaves start to die down in summer, don’t water at all – allow the bulbs to dry off.

Bulb care 

Hyacinth prefers to be lifted and replanted each year. After the leaves have died off, carefully lift the bulbs from the soil or take them out of the pot, clean them up and allow them to dry out of the sun for a few days. Once dry, spread them in a single layer on a tray and store them in a cool, airy spot until it's time to plant them again. 

Generally, it is a good idea to discard all your hyacinth bulbs after their second year and replace them with fresh ones. Over a couple of years, flower quality and quantity will decline. 

Diseases and pests

Hyacinths are reasonably pest and disease free. Their biggest enemy is wet soil, which could cause them to rot.  

If you like this then try

Lilies: tall-growing bulbs with showy flowers, from pure white and pink to orange. 

Daffodils: golden trumpet-shaped flowers and grey-green strappy leaves; true harbingers of spring. 

Tulips: showy spring-flowering bulbs, usually in shades of white, red or yellow, and often with a dark centre.

Start planting today

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.