The hyacinth is the ideal bulb for the formal bed or for the bowl. There are some thirty species, most of which have come from South Africa. They can be grown in shrub borders or among evergreens and they mix quite well with other bulbs that flower about the same time.

Hyacinths are usually divided into five groups: (1) Bed-ding, (2) Exhibition or Potting, (3) Roman or Miniature, (4) The Prepared and (5) The Prepared Miniature.

Hyacinths will grow in almost any soil except the badly drained spots. They seem to prefer light land. Those who wish to plant in heavy soil should add horticultural peat beforehand at one bucketful per square metre. Hyacinths are sun loving so never plant them in the shade. Give them shelter against strong winds for they are easily beaten down. Dig the ground over a spade’s depth and bury well-rotted vegetable refuse, thoroughly decomposed farmyard manure, or horticultural peat at the rate of one bucketful per square metre. Fork into the top 25 mm (1 in) or so bone meal at 105 g/m2 (3 oz per sq yd), plus a good fish manure at a similar rate.

Plant in September, and to help the root system to form before the hard winter sets in, cover the surface of the ground with a mulching of peat and plant the smallest bulbs 50 mm (2 in) down and the largest as deeply as 75 mm (3 in). The lighter the soil the deeper the planting. The bulbs should be 75 mm (3 in) apart, though the larger ones may be 100 mm (4 in) apart. When bedding the bulbs will be planted to fit in with whatever scheme is evolved. Always see that the base of the bulb is actually resting on the soil and in heavy land it is worth while putting a little sprinkling of sand in the bottom of the hole in which the base of the bulb can sit.

There are many kinds of Dutch hyacinths that can be used for bedding – white, red, pink, blue, lavender, mauve, purple, yellow and orange. The hyacinth multiflora are quite attractive; they have undergone a special treatment that causes them to throw up twelve or more loosely arranged spikes plus extra foliage.

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