Seed World

Year of the Hyacinth

Blue Jacket from Dutch Grown.

Origin: Commonly called Dutch hyacinths or garden hyacinths, they are hybrids of a single species (Hyacinthus orientalis) that grows wild in Turkey, Syria, and other areas in the eastern Mediterranean.

Family: Asparagaceae

Genus: Scilloideae

History: Flower lovers began cultivating hyacinths more than 400 years ago. During the 18th century, they were the most popular spring bulbs in the world, and Dutch growers offered more than 2,000 named cultivars. Today, there are less than 50 cultivars in commercial production, but the hyacinth’s beauty and sweet perfume are as enchanting as ever.

Traits: Today’s garden hyacinths look very different from the wild species. After centuries of breeding, they have taller flower spikes and much larger, mostly double florets that are tightly packed along the stem. Each hyacinth bulb produces a single 8 to 12‚Ä≥ tall flower stalk and 4 to 6 strappy leaves. The blossoms open in mid-spring, at the same time as daffodils and early tulips.

Colors and Popular Varieties: Hyacinths come in rich, saturated colors. The most popular cultivars are shades of purple and blue, which include Blue Jacket (royal blue), Delft Blue (cerulean), and Aida (violet-blue). Other colors are equally lovely and suggest lots of creative pairings. These include Woodstock (burgundy), Jan Bos (hot pink), Aiolos (white), Gypsy Queen (peach), and City of Haarlem (pale yellow).

Did You Know?: Hyacinth is in the same family as asparagus!

Breeders: Longfield Gardens, Dutch Grown, Park Seed, Breck’s, Burpee, Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co, American Meadows, Gardener’s Supply Company, Urban Farmer, Jung Seed, Brent and Becky’s

Editor’s Note: Hyacinths are grown from blubs; however, we are excited to highlight the breeding efforts.

Source: National Garden Bureau