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21 Best Hyacinth Types & Easy Guide on How to Grow Them

21 Best Hyacinth Types & Easy Guide on How to Grow Them

Hyacinths are the true heroes of the springtime garden. Emerging as the garden wakes up from its winter dormancy with a dazzling display of rainbow-coloured blooms and a scent so intense they have been nicknamed ‘natures perfume’, this early bloomer is the perfect antidote to a long, bleak winter.

If you’d like to herald the beginning of the growing season with some hyacinths of your own, we’ve got you covered with our guide to 21 of the best hyacinth varieties and how to grow them.

What are Hyacinths?

What are Hyacinths

Hyacinthus is a relatively small genus of spring-flowering, perennial bulb plants, more commonly known as hyacinths. Belonging to the family Asparagaceae, there are just three different species of hyacinth, although extensive cultivation has developed a great many cultivars. Originating in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, hyacinths have since become naturalised in cool and temperate regions of many countries across the world. 

Hyacinths are perennial, although they must be exposed to cold temperatures below 7°C for several weeks over winter for them to be viable and produce blooms in spring. The volume of flowers they produce declines after their first year, and every year subsequently, so many gardeners treat them as annuals, replacing the bulbs each year to maintain abundant and vibrant flower displays.  

Blooming in early spring, hyacinths produce upright, vaguely conical flower heads consisting of dozens of individual flowers ranging in colour from pale ivories, peaches, and pinks, to deep crimsons, blues, and purples. In ornamental cultivars, each flower head is supported by a single, thick stem framed by four to six upright, slender, glossy green leaves. In wild species, the flower heads are often sparser and less uniform, creating a more naturalistic aesthetic than the dense, regimented arrangements seen on ornamental varieties. 

Hyacinths can usually be categorised into three distinct types, based on their flower distribution:

  • Single-flowered varieties have a single stem protruding from each bulb. The flowers tend to be large and wide open. 
  • Double-flowered varieties typically have smaller, but more intricate flowers with more petals. 
  • Multiflora varieties produce several stems and multiple flower clusters from each bulb. They tend to have a more natural appearance and are more reminiscent of wildflowers.

Hyacinth flowers are prized not only for their inherent beauty but also for the rich, sweet, floral scent that they give off. This scent is often extracted for use in essential oils or perfumes, and the aromatic flowers are often used for cut flower arrangements. 

How did Hyacinth get its name? 

How did Hyacinth get its name

Hyacinthus takes its name from the Ancient Greek legend of Hyakinthos. The legend tells that the Sun God, Apollo, and the Wind God, Zephyr, were competing against one another for the affection of a young man named Hyakinthos. One day, Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos how to throw a discus, when Zephyr happened to catch sight of them, and in a jealous rage, he sent a gust of wind towards Apollo. The discus was caught in the wind and blown back towards Hyakinthos, killing him instantly. Apollo, engulfed in grief, watched as a flower emerged from the blood of Hyakinthos. And so he named the flower Hyacinth, in honour of Hyakinthos. 

What does Hyacinth Symbolise 

What does Hyacinth Symbolise

Hyacinth is a plant with many complex, often contradictory meanings. Influenced by the Greek legend through which it acquired its name, many believe the hyacinth to represent sorrow, rivalry, or jealousy, whilst others believe it to symbolise devotion and love after death. 

The Victorians, who developed an extensive system of symbolisms for almost every plant in their ‘Language of Floriography’, also took inspiration from the Greek legend, and thought hyacinth to represent playfulness and sports due to its connection to Apollo’s ill-fated discus. In Roman Catholicism, however, hyacinths are used to represent the altogether more peaceful virtues of prudence and a desire for heaven. 

As if the many different meanings of hyacinth are complicated enough, it gets even more complex when we consider that different coloured hyacinths can also symbolise different things. Yellow hyacinths represent jealousy and envy, whilst red-hued hyacinths symbolise playfulness and joviality. Purple hyacinths can be used to symbolise regality and wealth, but they can also represent regret or forgiveness. 

Best varieties of Hyacinth to grow

Best varieties of Hyacinth to grow

Whilst there may only be three distinct species of hyacinth, there’s almost no limit to the number of cultivars, which are available in a range of stunning colours, sizes, and flower types. We’ve compiled a list of 21 of the best varieties to help you select the perfect hyacinth for your garden this coming spring. 

  1. Aiolos hyacinths produce dense bursts of ivory or off-white, star-shaped flowers. Also known as ‘Dutch Hyacinths’, they produce a rich, sweet aroma throughout the early spring blooming period. 
  2. Apricot Passion is charming hyacinth that offers plenty of densely packed flowers in delicate shades of ivory, peach, and blush pink. Its muted tones make it a perfect, understated alternative to some of the more vividly coloured hyacinths. 
  3. Anna Marie is a stunning variety featuring two-toned petals which fade from pale pink outer edges to deeper pink central stripes. As the blooming season comes to an end, Anna Marie will fade to a more muted salmon-pink tone. 
  4. Blue Jacket hyacinth is famed for its bright, cobalt blue trumpet-shaped flowers, with each petal featuring a darker violet stripe. This variety makes a bold statement in beds and containers alike. 
  5. Blue Ice features pale blue single-flowered blooms. Each petal has a slightly darker blue stripe down the centre. Bees like to visit Blue Ice for easy access to its pollen through its trumpet-shaped flowers.
  6. Carnegie is a single-flowered variety offering s a delightful display of elegant, slender petalled, blooms ranging from snow white to ivory in colour. Its flowers give off an intensely sweet scent whilst in bloom. 
  7. City of Haarlem brings a splash of summery sunshine to an emerging spring border with its butter-yellow blooms. Flowering in mid-spring, they perfectly complement a display of equally cheery daffodils. 
  8. Gipsy Queen are a delightful alternative to the usual blue, pink, and white hues of most hyacinth varieties! Their delightful coral, peach, and salmon-toned blooms bring a brilliant flash of exuberance. 
  9. Hispanica is a wild species of hyacinth native to cooler regions of Spain and Portugal. It is a multiflora variety which offers clusters of bell-shaped blossoms in delicate muted blue and violet shades. It is colloquially known as the ‘Spanish Bluebell’ because it bears a close resemblance to the native British wildflower. 
  10. Hollyhock hyacinth is a real eye-catcher, proudly displaying its vivid fuchsia-toned, double-flowered blooms. Unlike some taller varieties, this short and sturdy hyacinth won’t need staking for additional support. 
  11. Jan Bos hyacinth is a highly perfumed, densely flowered variety that really packs a punch! It offers large florets of bright pink blooms edged with a muted pink border, contrasting beautifully against its deep green stems and leaves. 
  12. Lady Derby certainly lives up to its ladylike moniker with its sophisticated, elegant, and understated blush pink petals. Each star-shaped flower frames a gold-hued central pistil. This Dutch cultivar is a timeless classic, having been a firm favourite of gardeners since its creation in the late 1800s. 
  13. Miss Saigon is a small but mighty hyacinth which produces beautiful dense florets of shocking purple flowers in early spring. Its star-shaped single flowers are popular with springtime pollinators who are enticed by its vivid colours. 
  14. Peter Stuyvesant offers distinctive royal blue and deep violet trumpet-shaped flowers. Emitting an irresistibly sweet scent, its blue tones are a perfect contrast to yellow daffodils and irises in an early spring display. 
  15. Pink Festival is aptly named for its truly celebratory display of pink flowers. It has slightly more elongated, slender petals than other varieties, giving it a more elegant aesthetic.  
  16. Pink Pearl offers beautiful, multi-tonal blooms in a range of pinks. This variety has won the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit for its reliability, beauty, and correct characteristics for the species. 
  17. Pink Surprise is yet another pretty pink hyacinth, which offers a softer, more muted alternative to the other, more vivid varieties. Its candy pink, bell-shaped flowers are elegantly arranged around its sturdy central stems. 
  18. Purple Sensation displays dense florets of vivid, true purple flowers. Its bright blooms work well in dramatic borders with other brightly coloured spring flowers, such as crocuses and tulips. 
  19. Splendid Cornelia is a more muted alternative to the brighter purple hyacinth varieties. With delicate flowers in multi-tonal shades of mauve and lilac, Cornelia is especially attractive to early spring pollinators. 
  20. Sky Planet are a relatively early flowering variety, often blooming from February onwards. Their mesmerising blue flowers appear almost ultraviolet against the bleak colours of late winter. 
  21. Woodstock produces some of the deepest-coloured blooms of all hyacinth varieties. Its rich burgundy hues make a truly dramatic addition to a spring border, proudly standing out amongst the pastel tones of early-season daffodils and snowdrops.

How to grow and care for Hyacinths 

How to grow and care for Hyacinths

Requiring very little care during their spring blooming period, and even less attention for the remainder of the year, hyacinths really are low-maintenance bulb plants. To help you achieve a successful hyacinth display next spring, here’s our guide to planting and growing hyacinth bulbs. 

Growing Hyacinth from bulbs 

The easiest way to grow hyacinths is from bulbs, which are readily available from nurseries and garden centres. Your bulbs should be planted out in late autumn and early winter, as they need to be exposed to cold temperatures before they can bloom. Place the bulbs pointy end up in rows or holes around six inches deep and six inches apart from one another. Cover with soil and water generously at first. They can then be more or less left to their own devices until shoots emerge in early spring. Be mindful not to overwater them as the bulbs can quickly become rotten. Flowers should emerge around three weeks to a month after the first leaves appear. 

When handling hyacinth bulbs, it’s important to wear protective gloves, since they contain oxalic acid which is a skin irritant. 

Growing Hyacinth from seed 

Growing hyacinth from seed is advisable only for the most patient gardeners among us. They are notoriously slow to mature, taking several years before the bulb forms and even longer before flowers begin to emerge. If you do want to want to have a go at growing from seed, collect seeds from the pods of established plants. Soak the seeds in water for around two days, then place them on a paper towel. Put the paper towel in the refrigerator until the seeds sprout, after which you can transfer them to a seed tray filled with potting mix. Place the seed tray on a windowsill or in a greenhouse and keep the soil lightly moist as the seedling matures. 

Caring for Hyacinth

Caring for Hyacinth


Hyacinths do really well when grown in containers, and they don’t need quite as much space as their border gown counterparts. It’s important to choose a pot with plenty of draining holes since they are prone to rot in very wet soil. The container should be at least six inches deep, and wide enough to accommodate established flowers and their foliage comfortably. You won’t need to repot the bulbs either. After a year or two they will naturally lose their vigour, so can simply be removed from the pot and replaced with new ones. 


Plant your hyacinths in moderately fertile, well-draining soil. They don’t tolerate waterlogged or heavy soils well so work some additional drainage material through your soil before planting. Avoid adding excessive amounts of nutrient-rich materials to the soil though, as this can cause their stems to become fragile and floppy. Hyacinths do best in slightly acidic soil, although they aren’t overly fussy about pH levels. 


Hyacinths perform best in a full sun position, although they can handle some dappled shade too. Aim for at least six hours of sunlight per day. If they receive too little sunlight in their first year, it may affect their ability to bloom in subsequent years. 


Hyacinths aren’t a particularly thirsty plant. Generally, the natural rain cycle of winter and spring is sufficient for healthy growth. Give them an extra watering during very dry spells, but make sure the top inch or two of soil has dried out completely between waterings. Container-grown hyacinths should be allowed to drain fully after each watering so the soil doesn’t become waterlogged. 

Temperature and Humidity 

Temperature and Humidity

These cool weather-loving plants are frost and cold hardy down to as low as -32°C. In fact, hyacinth bulbs must be exposed to cold temperatures below 7°C for twelve to fifteen weeks to be viable. If your local climate is unlikely to reach these temperatures then you will need to chill your bulbs in the fridge before planting out.

Hyacinths do best in average humidity levels of around 50 percent. If the ambient humidity is too dry, they may struggle to bloom in spring. 


The best way to feed your hyacinths is by working a small amount of bulb food into the soil just before planting. This helps them to establish strong, healthy root systems over winter. You won’t necessarily need to provide much additional fertiliser once they are established, although it won’t do any harm to give them a very light feed in early spring when the buds appear. 

Pruning and staking 

Once your hyacinths have finished blooming, you should remove the spent flowers and trim the stems right down, keeping only the leaves. This redirects energy back into the bulb for producing next year’s blooms. 

Taller varieties can become floppy under the weight of their flowers, especially if the floret is very densely packed, so you may need to stake them to give them a little extra support. Alternatively, grouping your bulbs slightly closer together when planting means that the mature plants will offer some support to one another. 


Established hyacinths need very little attention over the winter months. You can mulch around the base of the plant to give extra frost protection if you live in a very cold climate, otherwise, they can more or less be left to their own devices until spring. 

Growing Hyacinth indoors

Growing Hyacinth indoors

Although typically an outdoors perennial, hyacinth can be grown indoors with some success. You will need to chill the bulbs in the fridge for twelve to fifteen weeks before planting. Once chilled, place the bulbs into terracotta pots and cover them with a loose, well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil lightly moist and place the pot somewhere cool and dark until new growth emerges. The young hyacinths can then be moved to a position with plenty of bright, indirect light until they begin to show new buds, at which point they can be moved to a full sun position, preferably a south-facing windowsill for the remainder of the blooming season. Hyacinth bulbs that have been ‘forced’ to bloom in this way should be treated as annuals and discarded after they finish blooming. 

Another way to grow hyacinth indoors is by using a glass bulb vase. The vase is shaped in such a way that only the roots can touch the water, with the bulb being held separately. This method uses no soil, instead using just water as the growing medium. This is a really interesting way to grow bulbs since the clear container and lack of soil allow you to see the roots emerging and growing inside the vase.



How long do hyacinths live? 

Although perennial, hyacinths don’t have a particularly long lifespan. Each year, your hyacinth will produce fewer blooms than it did the previous spring, and eventually, after around three or four years, it may cease to flourish at all. Many people simply discard tired old bulbs after a couple of seasons and replace them with fresh new ones.

How long does a hyacinth bloom for?

Hyacinths have a relatively short blooming period, often lasting for just two to three weeks. But what they lack in longevity, they more than make up for with their cheerful flowers and intense fragrance.

Is hyacinth toxic?

All parts of the hyacinth plant, including the bulbs, contain a chemical called oxalic acid which can cause skin sensitivity if touched and serious stomach upset if ingested. It’s best to grow your hyacinth somewhere well away from inquisitive little hands or paws. 



If you’re looking for a way to brighten up a dreary early spring garden, surely hyacinth is the perfect choice with its bright, eye-catching flowers and sweet, floral aroma. With so many varieties and colours to choose from, your garden will soon be bursting with colour, buzzing with pollinators, and smelling simply divine!  

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Emily Grice

Emily Grice

Em Grice is a content writer specialising in horticulture and botany who combines her respect for the natural world with her love for the written word. A regular contributor to a range of international publications and organisations, she is most at peace when pottering in her own little garden in the north of England

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