When to plant hyacinth bulbs – for a fragrant spring display

Learn when to plant hyacinth bulbs to savor their stunning springtime blooms

Hyacinths
(Image credit: Alamy)

Know when to plant hyacinth bulbs for an impressive, scent-laden display. With their highly fragrant flower heads in vibrant shades from white, coral through to deepest claret, purple and near black, it’s no wonder these flower bulbs are one of the most popular to grow. 

Spires of tiny, clustered star-like blooms, flower outside in March and April and make an eye-catching sight planted in beds, pots and window boxes. They can also be planted in containers or grown in a glass vase to fill your home with color and scent for Christmas and late winter.

To help you get the best from these fabulous spring bulbs, we’ve rounded up the best advice on when to plant hyacinths including tips from the experts.

When to plant hyacinth bulbs

Hyacinth bulbs should be planted in fall well before the first frosts. When you're planting bulbs in fall in smaller groups, it's worth knowing that odd numbers look better than even. So, for best results, plant bulbs in odd numbered groups of three, five or more and have fun keeping to variations of a single color or a spectacular mix. 

‘Over centuries of breeding to increase the size, abundance, and color range of hyacinth flowers, one thing remained the same – their rich perfume. Modern varieties can look a little stiff if they’re lined up in the garden, so spread them around, combining them with pansies and shorter tulips,’ suggests Adelle Hack of White Flower Farm (opens in new tab)

When to plant hyacinth bulbs in beds and borders

As with most spring flowering bulbs, hyacinths should be planted in beds and borders in fall. This will allow them to establish roots in the warm soil – well before frosts occur – and experience a cold, dormant period which will spur them into growth in early spring. 

As a guide Chris Rugriok at ADR Bulbs (opens in new tab) suggests, ‘Soil temperatures must be 55℉ or below to ensure proper root development.’ He also adds that ‘the optimal planting time is when night-time temperatures are 40-50℉’ which is a useful guide, regardless of which HDSA hardiness zone you live in. 

When to plant hyacinth bulbs in containers

Filling pots and garden containers with hyacinth bulbs will guarantee an unforgettable early spring display. Their heavenly scent makes them perfect for positioning next to gateways and entrances, plus their bold shades of white, yellow, pink and varying shades blue are an impressive sight whether planted on their own or mixed with other springtime blooms such as violas, daffodils and early tulips.

‘Hyacinths are sensitive to frost, so you need to give them enough time to form roots before the frost,’ say the team at iBulb (opens in new tab). ‘These days, hyacinths come in a variety of colors such as pink, red, blue, purple, salmon, yellow, black and white. In addition to their gorgeous colors, they are delightfully fragrant. Each flower color has its own unique scent, which you can enjoy from March through May.’

When is best to plant hyacinth bulbs for an indoor display?

Planting hyacinths for a festive indoor display is simple and fun to do, plus it’s a great way to fill your home with delicious scent and color throughout the depths of winter – the perfect pick-me-up. 

‘Treated bulbs can be planted in indoor containers in August, and then replanted outside after flowering to flower again the following spring,’ says plant expert Sarah Raven (opens in new tab)

The best way to do this is to force bulbs or buy slightly more costly, pre-prepared forced bulbs, and grow them on in a cool, dark spot until the flower shoots just begin to emerge. This usually takes around 10 weeks. Bring them into a light, warm room to flower. 

Hyacinth glass vases – with a pinched waist – are perfect for bringing color to an indoor window ledge – and displayed en masse look pretty spectacular too. Amazon sells a wide range of hyacinth glass vases (opens in new tab) in different styles and finishes that are worth checking out.

‘The clear glass bulb vase is perfect for growing prepared hyacinth bulbs,’ says Helen Derrin at Crocus (opens in new tab). ‘To enjoy the intoxicating fragrance of hyacinths at Christmas and New Year, all you need to do is start growing your bulb in September or October.’

You can buy a pack of 12 mixed hyacinth bulbs from Amazon – this one is top-rated (opens in new tab).

Jill Morgan
Contributing Editor

Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English

Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Gardeningetc.com. Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her

everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens.