COMMON NAME:  hyacinth
GENUS:  Hyacinthus
H. Orientalis ‘Amsterdam’-bright red to pink.
H. o. ‘Anne Marie’-light pink.
H. o. ‘Carnegie’-creamy white.
H. o. ‘Delft Blue’-blue
FAMILY:  Liliaceae
BLOOMS:  early spring
TYPE:  perennial
DESCRIPTION:  Hyacinths are widely used as a spring bulb. The top flower size is 7 to 7 1/2 inches in circumference. The flower spike is composed of neatly rounded mounds of small blossoms. Flowers are available in pink, white, cream, reddish pink, blue, yellow, and violet blue.
CULTIVATION:  Good drainage is a must for this plant because the bulbs rot easily if water stands on them. Bulbs should be planted in the fall, 6 inches deep, 6 to 8 inches apart. Mulch them in the fall to protect the tender spring growth from frost damage. Bulbs should be planted in an area that bets full sun or partial shade.

According to mythology, hyacinths originated because of the wrath of Zephyr, a god of the wind. Apollo, king of all the gods, fell in love with Hyacinthus, son of the king of Sparta. One day as Apollo and Hyacinthus were playing quoits {a game similar to today’s horseshoes}, Apollo threw the metal ring and Zephyr, jealous and enraged, caused the wind to make the metal ring hit Hyacinthus and kill him. Broken hearted, Apollo created the hyacinth flower out of the blood of his friend. Some even say that the petals look like the Greek syllables ai ai, meaning “woe.”
The Victorian language of flowers hyacinth means sport or play, and the blue hyacinth is a symbol of sincerity.
The Greeks dedicated this plant to Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. In ancient Sparta, annual Hyacinthian feasts were held. A Greek girl wore a crown made from hyacinth blossoms when she assisted at her brother’s wedding.
Greeks used concoctions made from the plants to treat dysentery and the bite of poisonous spiders. Such a concoction was also reputed to have the power to prevent a young boy’s voice from changing during puberty, making it very popular with singing masters of the time.
Hyacinths were first found growing in Asia Minor, as is suggested by the species name orientalis. Cultivated in Turkey and Persia, hyacinths were brought to England from Persia in 1561.


The following story is told of how hyacinths got to Holland: Trading ships carrying crates of these exotic and expensive bulbs wrecked off the coast of Holland. The crates broke open, and the waves washed the bulbs ashore, where they rooted and produces beautiful flowers. However hyacinths got to them, the Dutch lent their magical hands to the plant, and by 1724 more than 2,000 varieties of hyacinth were found in Europe. Though interest in the bulbs never quite reached the level that tulips created, the price of hyacinth bulbs was quite high and competition for new varieties fierce.