What do you do with Hyacinths after they bloom?

The producers of Hyacinths, notably the Dutch horticultural industry, want to sell you hyacinth bulbs every year. That way they can sell as many as the can, and maximize their profits every year. But here's the thing, Hyacinth bulbs are not annuals, the every fact of them being a bulb means that the have evolved to survive harsh conditions, ready to regrow and bloom the following season. This gives you two choices. Either pander to big business and throw your perfectly good Hyacinths away and contribute to our wasteful society, or try and care for them in such a way that they will have a chance to boom again in the coming spring. The question is this, what do you do with Hyacinth bulbs after they bloom?

For this answer I am going to presume that you have purchased hyacinth bulbs for indoor use so you can enjoy both the gorgeous scent and stunning full blooms. If you are thinking about bulbs already naturalized outside in the garden then you have two single choices. Either remove the flowering stalk to the base keep your borders tidy (either cut the stalk, or if it has died back enough it will just pull out by hand), or allow the flowering stalk to die back naturally so that the bulb can recuperate sugars and carbohydrates back into the bulb for re-use next spring - perfect recycling!

Back to indoor specimens, I accept that Hyacinths are not native to the freezing, wet condition of northern Europe. However given the right conditions they will indeed flower year on year with little maintenance. Firstly the aspect is important as Hyacinths have the capacity to produce enormous amounts of blooms and they will require two things to do this otherwise subsequent blooms will be considerably weaker. They need full sun, as much as they can possible receive and a well draining, warm soil. Absolutely avoid ground which becomes waterlogged, especially over the winter. Once flowering is over and the foliage is still lush, don't be afraid to provide a liquid fertilizer every week or so to help build up the bulb for next years display. In cooler northern regions of the country provide a couple of inches of a dry mulch (such as bark chips of gravel) to prevent the overwintering bulbs from being frost damaged. 

Alternatively, if you want to grown them on as container specimens you can do that too. Conditions remain the same as in full sun and well-drained compost. Choose something like a John Innes 'No 1' and add a handful of horticultural grit to it. In the winter you can easily move your container to a frost-free protected environment.

So that is what you do with Hyacinths after they bloom.

For related articles click onto the following links:
BBC Hyacinths

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