How to plant hyacinth bulbs outdoors

Written by karen carter | 13/05/2017
How to plant hyacinth bulbs outdoors
Hyacinth flowers give spring gardens bold colour. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) are early spring flowers that appear alongside daffodils and snowdrops. The blue, white and pink blossom spikes last two to three weeks in April and May. Hyacinths reach 15 to 45 cm (6 to 18 inches) tall and spread 10 cm (4 inches) wide. These spring flowers are very fragrant. Hyacinths provide gardens with brilliant spring colour. In the UK, hyacinths grow well without mulch. Plant hyacinth bulbs in the late autumn for next spring's blooming.

Remove the grass, weeds and other plants from an area in full to partial sun. Dig the soil to the depth of 45 cm (18 inches) with a shovel. Remove any large sticks, roots and rocks that are uncovered. Break up large clumps of soil with the edge of the shovel.

Spread a 10 to 12.5 cm (4 to 5 inch) layer of organic material like compost or peat moss on the soil. Work the organic matter into the loosened soil. This increases the drainage property of the soil.

Remove the top 20 cm (8 inches) of soil from the planting area and place it in a wheelbarrow. Spread 10-10-10 slow-release fertiliser and bonemeal over the soil left in the planting area. Use 5 tbsp of fertiliser and 400 g (2 cups) of bonemeal for every 0.9 square metres (10 square feet). Mix these amendments into the soil in the planting area.

Place the hyacinth bulbs in the planting area spacing them 2.5 to 7.5 cm (1 to 3 inches) apart or six to nine bulbs per 0.1 square metres (1 square foot). Make sure that the flat end of the bulb is against the soil and the pointed end is upward.

Replace the soil into the planting area. Do not compact the soil down over the bulbs. Rake the soil smooth and level. Sprinkle the water over the planting area to settle the soil.


Water the flowers regularly during the growing season in spring. Hyacinth bulbs prefer little water during the summer while the bulbs are resting.


Hyacinths are toxic if the bulbs are eaten. Hyacinth poisoning causes stomach upset, colic, vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs, cattle and pigs are known to suffer from poisoning after accidentally eating the bulbs.

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Organic material
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Fertiliser
  • Bonemeal
  • Rake
  • Water

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