A favorite among the spring bulbs, hyacinths [HI-a-sinths] are versatile and dramatic plants. These popular members of the Lily family descend from the garden Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis), which has a pedigree going back hundreds of years to Asia Minor via Italy, France (where it is used in perfumery) and Holland. Common garden hyacinths are sometimes referred to as Dutch hyacinths.
Height And Spread of Hyacinth
Depending on the variety, hyacinth plants grow up to 18 inches tall and spread 6 to 9 inches wide. Their large, purplish or off-white globelike bulbs may be up to 7 inches in circumference. The largest of the bulbs produce tall top-heavy flowers which must be staked.
Common hyacinth leaves are thick, narrow and straplike, with smooth edges. A bright green color, they grow up to 1 foot or more long, and up to 1 1/2 inches wide. They emerge from the ground just as the flower spike does and die back several weeks after the flower is spent.
Hyacinths bloom in the spring after snowdrops and crocuses. Heavily-scented hyacinth blossoms are made up of thick clusters of florets. Each floret is tubular or bell-shaped, with six waxy petals that curve backward. Some varieties have double flowers. The florets are carried on a dense, blunt spike that stands erect on a thick stalk. Each bulb produces only one such spike. These bulbs are bred to produce a large flower stalk their first year. In subsequent years they produce fewer florets on the flower spike and have a more relaxed, natural look. Color ranges through white to many shades of yellow, pink, rose, red or blue.