By: Kristi Waterworth
You know it’s spring when the hyacinths are finally in full bloom, their tidy spire of flowers reaching into the air. Some years, though, it seems like no matter what you do your hyacinths won’t bloom. If yours are failing you this year, check with us to discover the most common causes of a lack of bloom. It may be easier to get your hyacinths back on track than you imagined.
Hyacinth flowers not blooming is a common garden problem with many easy solutions, depending on the cause of your bloom failure. Having no blooms on hyacinths is a frustrating problem. After all, these bulbs are practically fool-proof. If you’ve got lots of stalks, but no hyacinth flowers, run down this checklist before you panic.
Timing – Not all hyacinths bloom at the same time, though you can reasonably expect them to appear sometime in early spring. If your neighbor’s hyacinths are blooming and yours aren’t, you may just need to wait a little longer. Give them time, especially if they’re new to the garden.
Age – Hyacinths aren’t generally strong enough to last forever, unlike your tulips and lilies. These members of the bulb garden begin to decline after about two seasons. You may need to replace your bulbs if you want blooms again.
Prior Year’s Care – Your plants need plenty of time in a full sun location after they bloom to recharge their batteries for next year. If you cut them back too soon or plant them in a low light location, they may lack the strength to bloom at all.
Prior Storage – Improperly stored bulbs may lose their flower buds to dehydration or inconsistent temperatures. Buds may also abort if they’re stored near sources of ethylene gas, common in garages and produced by apples. In the future, cut one of the bulbs in half if they’re stored in a questionable location and check the flower bud before planting.
Discount Bulbs – Although there’s nothing wrong with getting a garden bargain, sometimes you don’t get as good of a deal as you really hoped. At the end of the season, leftover bulbs may be damaged or the discounted remainders just too shrimpy for full production.
This article was last updated on
Forcing hyacinths to bloom in water was a Victorian passion that fell out of favor in the twentieth century -- perhaps because garden writers made the process seem more complicated and mysterious than it is. Hyacinth bulbs are exceptionally eager to bloom and will do so with only the slightest encouragement, providing a fragrant and long-lasting symbol of spring.
To force hyacinths, buy pre-chilled bulbs that have received a cold treatment imitating winter. The best varieties for forcing are Dutch hyacinths such as the rose-pink 'Lady Derby,' the lilac-blue 'Delft Blue,' the deep-red 'Jan Bos,' and the pure-white 'Carnegie.' Dutch hyacinths are also great perennial bulbs for the garden. If you don't like the formality of their tight blooms, remember that the blooms loosen over the years -- a feature that Martha loves.
Label the bags with the hyacinth variety to avoid confusion at replanting time.
Store in a shoebox filled with dry peat moss instead of a mesh bag.
Check bulbs every one to two week for signs of rot. Dispose of rotten bulbs immediately to keep it from spreading.
Hyacinth is considered a spring bulb like daffodils and tulips. They bloom shortly after the ground thaws in spring, bringing early color to your garden. Hyacinths come in a range of colors including white, pink and blue. Hardy plants, hyacinth bulbs overwinter in the ground, even in cold winter areas. Storing bulbs is only necessary when you desire to move the hyacinth bulbs to a new bed or force them indoors or when it is time to separate the bulbs—approximately every two to three years.
Use plant markers or stakes to mark the location of the hyacinth bulbs as soon as they bloom. Once the leaves die back, the bulbs are nearly impossible to locate. Use caution when driving in the markers not to pierce or damage the bulbs.
Wait for the leaves to die back completely. Leaves are necessary for hyacinth bulbs to store up the energy for next year's blooming, and digging them up too early may damage the bulbs.
Dig around the bulbs with a garden trowel. Avoid hitting or nicking the hyacinth bulbs while digging. Lift them out of the soil and brush off excess soil. Dispose of any rotten or diseased-looking bulbs.
Lay the hyacinth bulbs on newspaper without them touching each other. Leave the bulbs in a dry area out of sunlight for three to five days until they dry out. Brush off any remaining soil.
Store the bulbs in a mesh bag hanging in a cool, dry place until it's time for replanting in the fall or forcing in late winter.