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Home & garden.

Updated: 3 May 2022

How to grow hyacinths and best varieties

Hyacinths fill the spring garden with scent. Discover our best hyacinth varieties and tips on how to grow them.
Ceri Thomas
Hyacinths

You might think of hyacinths as highly perfumed additions to indoor displays during the Christmas season, along with poinsettia and paperwhite narcissus. But they can also look lovely in borders or grown in pots, adding a fragrant splash of colour outdoors in spring.

Unlike narcissus, hyacinths come in a huge range of colours, and the scent varies, too. Not all have a heady, sweet scent – some have a much subtler fragrance. Early emerging bumble bees absolutely love the sturdy flowers, which give them much-needed nectar at the start of the year, before other plants have got going.

Which? Gardening magazine grew a range of popular varieties to see which would give us the best display.


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Key facts

Plant type Spring-flowering bulbs

Position Full sun or part shade

Soil Moist and fertile

How to grow hyacinths: month by month

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune


FloweringFlowering

JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember


Plant


Best hyacinth varieties

Which members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you're not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Full testing results for hyacinths

Variety nameOverall ratingHeight (cm)Flower impactDisplay impactDuration of flowering ScentStanding abilityPests & disease
40

30

36

36

24

30

31

USING THE TABLE OVERALL RATING The more stars the better. Rating ignores price and is based on: flower impact 20%, display impact 20%, duration of flowering 20%, scent 20%, pests and diseases 10%, standing ability 10%

How we test hyacinths

In autumn, the Which? Gardening magazine experts planted seven bulbs of 18 popular hyacinth varieties in pots, at three bulbs' depth, using our Best Buy peat-free compost for containers. We placed the pots outside on a patio. 

In the spring, we assessed how long the hyacinths flowered for, the strength and pleasantness of their scent, the attractiveness of the blooms, whether the colour stayed true or faded, whether they remained upright or flopped over, and how prone they were to damage caused by pests and disease. 

Caring for your plants

Planting in borders

Hyacinths like well-drained, fertile soil, in full sun or partial shade. Plant bulbs in early September, making sure they're a minimum of 10cm deep and at least 8cm apart. Remove the dead flower stems as they fade, but leave the foliage to die back naturally.

Planting in pots

For containers, plant at least 8cm deep in Best Buy compost for containers. You can plant them close together, leaving a small gap between them. Once the flowers have faded, put the containers in a sheltered spot in the garden and feed with a Best Buy liquid feed. Reduce watering once the leaves are beginning to die off. Lift the bulbs when all the foliage has died, and store them in a cool, dry place until replanting them in autumn.

Common growing problems

Poor flowering

If your hyacinths are flowering poorly, or producing thin, bluebell-like stems, it might be that they're too close to the surface of the soil.

Lift and replant, ensuring that at least 10cm of soil is above the tip of the bulb. If the bulb has developed small bulblets around the side, they should be replaced as they will flower poorly.