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Hyacinths are hardy spring bulbs that produce a stiff stalk of flowers. The flowers vary in colour, but are usually pink, blue, white or lavender. Plant hyacinths in groups or surround them with early perennials and hardy annuals for a natural, soft look. Hyacinths require little maintenance and you may actually harm them by cutting the leaves too soon.
Cut flower stems at the base of the plant and bring the blooms inside for an indoor display. Hyacinths look rather stiff and unnatural in a garden setting, but they make lovely, fragrant flower arrangements. If you prefer to leave the flowers in the garden, remove spent blooms so the plant doesn't put energy into making seeds. Cut back the stems to the ground after blooming.
Like all spring-blooming bulbs, hyacinths store food for next year in the leaves of the plant. These leaves are stiff and unsightly, but don't cut them back until they turn brown and dry. Plant annuals or perennials around the hyacinth to disguise the unattractive leaves instead.
Plant hyacinths in early autumn around 13 cm deep and 15 cm apart. Plant them in full sun in well-draining, fertile soil. Hyacinths do well in a sandy or loamy soil mix.
Trick hyacinths into blooming early for a winter display. Bury hyacinths in potting soil in a clay pot so only the tips are showing. Store the bulbs in a dark, cool place, such as an attached garage, where temperatures fall between -1C and 10C. After eight to 12 weeks, set the hyacinth in a cool, shaded location for a few days to acclimate it to the light. Water the soil to keep it evenly moist and give the plant some liquid fertiliser according to package directions. Gradually move the plant to a warm, sunny location when the green tips stand around 10 cm high. A pot of cheerful, sweet-smelling hyacinths brightens a dreary room in winter and makes a thoughtful gift.
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