Gardens

Saving Hyacinth Bulbs

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Hyacinth bulbs, like those of many bulb flowers, can be extracted from the garden and saved until the following autumn for replanting, or they can be revived after a forced bloom with some extra care. Here are some tips on how to preserve your hyacinth bulbs for planting outdoors in soil.

Bulbs from Forced Blooms

Many people who live in climates with long harsh winters are rejuvenated by the gift of a potted hyacinth in February. Once the bloom has died, you can salvage the hyacinth bulb for planting. When the flowers have died, trim back the blooms and stems, retaining the leaves. Continue to provide water to the bulb and roots, and set it near a south or west window where it will get sustained daily sunlight. This ensures the leaves can continue to produce food for the bulb through photosynthesis.

As the leaves yellow and start to wilt, cut back watering to half the amount. After the leaves turn crisp and brown, stop watering and let the soil water evaporate fully. Retrieve the bulbs and trim off the dead leaves near the bulb's base. Dust off all soil and any mold from the bulbs and keep them away from all moisture sources. Place them in a mesh or paper bag in a cool, dry, dark place until the fall. Ensure adequate air circulation around the bulbs to prevent mold formation and rotting.

In the fall, plant the bulbs outside in your garden. They will bloom sparsely the first year, but with sufficient nutrients and rainfall, they will eventually return to full growth and abundant flowering.

Bulbs Recovered from the Garden

Hyacinths, as perennials, are not usually dug up every fall. However, if you are moving and want to take some with you, or you are preparing a new flowerbed that won't be ready till after spring, you can recover some of your current hyacinth bulbs for planting the next autumn.

In the spring when they are blooming, take a photograph of the flowers to record their color. Put the photo on the bag where you will store the bulbs. Next, mark the location of the bulbs you want to dig up with a brightly colored plastic stick. Once the leaves die back, it is often hard to pinpoint the location of the bulbs.

To get them out of the garden in the fall, dig in a circle around them with a pointed spade. Avoid piercing or denting them. Lift the bulbs straight up out of the dirt, and shake gently to brush off loose dirt. In the house, lay them out on newsprint sheets in a dark spot for a full week to thoroughly dry out. Insert them into a mesh bag and hang in a dry, cool location with good ventilation. You can force them to bloom in the winter months, or take them with you to your new garden to plant in the fall. Either way, your hyacinth bulbs will live on to bloom another season.

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Photo copyright Dave's Garden (davesgarden.com)

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