Hyacinth (Hyacinthus) is a genus of perennial bulbous herbs of the asparagus family (Asparagaceae), growing wild in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. Representatives of the genus are popular garden and indoor flowers.
- Family: Asparagus.
- Origin: Mediterranean, Asia Minor.
- Rootstock: bulbous.
- Stem: straight, short.
- Leaves: linear.
- Fruit: three-celled capsule.
- Reproductive capacity: propagated by bulbs and seeds.
- Illumination: photophilous.
- Watering: moderate.
- Content temperature: thermophilic.
- Flowering time: up to 25 days from the end of April.
Hyacinths at home and in the garden: plant bulbs, leaves and flowers
Perennial herbaceous bulbous plant with a height of 20 to 40 cm with narrow linear basal leaves and a leafless fleshy peduncle, on which bell-shaped flowers bloom, formed into a spike-shaped brush – a sultan.
The leaves of hyacinths are grooved, juicy, bright green, 16-20 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, grow in 4-8 pieces. on one plant.
The flowers are fragrant, have a perianth in the form of a bell-shaped funnel, the segments of which, almost equal in length to the tube, are sickle-shaped or rejected, with single-row stamens attached to the middle of the tube, located on short pedicels in the axils of the bracts. Inflorescences in nature are blue, culturally bred varieties can have a variety of colors: blue, purple, blue, red, pink, yellow, white, simple and terry in shape. Below are photos of flowers of hyacinths of various varieties.
The fruit is a fleshy three-celled box of almost spherical shape.
The storage organ is a bulb, rounded, has the shape of a wide cone with a diameter of 3 to 6 cm, consists of juicy open storage leaf and grass scales. The outer scales are membranous, dry, of various colors. In plants with blue, blue and purple flowers, they are purple, with white – light gray, with pink – lilac. The bulb is perennial, can be fully used for about 10 years, after which it must be replaced, as flowering becomes weak.
Hyacinth is an ephemeroid plant with a short growing season in early spring. At this time, a peduncle with leaves appears on the surface, and flowers appear in late April – early May. Blue-flowered varieties bloom first, followed by pinks, reds, whites, and lilacs, and finally yellows and oranges. Hyacinths bloom from 7 to 25 days, depending on weather conditions, during which time the flower brush continues to grow, and doubles at the end of flowering.
In the process of vegetation, the underground bases of the leaves are transformed into internal storage scales, while the external ones consume the nutrients stored in them during growth, after which they become external dry films and gradually peel off. In the center of the bottom, a renewal bud is formed, which contains the beginnings of flowers and leaves of the next year. In an adult, 4-5 year old hyacinth bulb, in the axils of the storage, and sometimes covering scales, buds of daughter bulbs are additionally formed. At the end of June, the aerial part dies off, only the bulbs with the accumulated supply of nutrients remain. The next spring, the vegetation cycle resumes.
Indoor hyacinths in the garden and at home
In the garden, hyacinths are planted in mixboders, in separate curtains, in rocky gardens (rockeries). They look great in monoculture and combine well with evergreen shrubs, such as boxwood, dwarf spruce and thuja, as well as herbaceous perennials, hellebore, bergenia, periwinkle. They look spectacular when planted under ornamental cherries and plums, magnolia blooming in spring. At the end of June, the aerial part of these spring bulbs dies off, so we can recommend perennial ground cover or ornamental deciduous plants, such as hosta, periwinkle, sedum, and saplings, as neighbors for the hyacinth flower, which will mask the empty plots of land formed after flowering. Another interesting solution is to grow hyacinth in a pot or container. During flowering, they are placed in the border, in the flower beds, they decorate balconies and terraces with them, and then they are removed to secluded corners of the garden.
Due to large bright inflorescences and wonderful aroma, plants are widely used in modern floriculture, grown both in open ground and in room culture, used for cutting and forcing.
Hyacinths at home: cultivation and care
Growing hyacinths is possible not only in the garden, but also at home. Indoor hyacinths bloom just as well, and often better and more abundantly, than their outdoor counterparts, because they are kept warm longer before planting in the ground, and are generally less exposed to low temperatures.
Home hyacinths can bloom from January to May, while using special techniques called forcing, you can make the flower bloom by a certain date, for example, by the New Year or March 8th. Growing hyacinths at home was widespread in Russia back in the 19th century, especially often they tried to get flowering plants by Easter, for which they were even given the name “Easter flower”. These bulbs are easy to distill, not only in the ground, but also in sand, and even in water.
Large bright inflorescences of various colors with a thick sweet aroma are widely used for cutting. To keep the flowers fresh longer, they are cut in the morning or evening hours in the opening phase of the first lower buds in the inflorescence. Picked at noon, especially in sunny weather, specimens will wither much faster. It is not necessary to use a sharp pruner, a light pressure is enough to break out a fragile peduncle. Before using hyacinth in a bouquet or composition, it must be put in water for several hours separately from other flowers. This will help to remove the mucus formed after cutting and extend the life of the flower. In order for a bouquet of hyacinths to stand at home as long as possible, it is recommended to change the water more often. Subject to the rules listed above, flowers can retain their decorative effect up to 7, and in a cool room up to 10-14 days.
The use of hyacinths is not limited to decorative floriculture. The fragrant essential oil obtained from them has an antiseptic, astringent and sedative effect, is used in aromatherapy, the perfume industry for the manufacture of floral or oriental perfumes. The aerial part of the plant is used for medicinal purposes. It contains colchicine, a drug used to treat gout. Alcoholic infusions of petals are an ancient cosmetic product that smoothes the skin of the face, protecting it from adverse external influences.
The dried petals are used in the household to scent linens in closets, and as an insecticide to control cockroaches and mosquitoes.
It should be noted that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Preparations from hyacinth are taken orally only as directed by a doctor. Uncontrolled intake can cause vomiting, indigestion.
Hyacinth is a lush flowering, intense aroma, versatility of use as a garden, houseplant and cut flower, have led to the wide popularity of hyacinths around the world. The industrial production of flowers began in the 17th century. Currently, the main suppliers of bulbs and flowering plants to the European market are the Netherlands and the UK.
History of hyacinth: legends and myths
The history of hyacinth has several millennia. It grew wild in Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, the Balkans, and was valued by the ancient Greeks for its beauty and delicate aroma. Its name, translated from Greek, means “flower of the rains”, since the flowering time of the plant fell on the period of the beginning of warm spring rains. Another version of the origin of the name is represented by a beautiful ancient Greek myth. Hyacinth, the son of the Spartan king Amyklos, had extraordinary beauty and was the favorite of the sun god Apollo. One day, Apollo and Hyacinth were having fun throwing a discus. After another throw, Zephyr, who was jealous of the beautiful young man for God, changed the direction of the disc’s flight with a breath of wind so that on the way back he struck Hyacinth to death. Great was the grief of Apollo. To perpetuate the memory of a friend, God commanded that where drops of his blood were shed, a beautiful flower of red-lilac color with a wonderful smell spread over long distances would grow. Named after a young man killed by a hyacinth, the flower became a symbol of sadness in Greece, as well as a dying and resurgent nature.
There is another Greek legend about hyacinth, according to which its origin is associated with Ajax, the hero of the Trojan War. This warrior, the most brave and outstanding after Achilles, after his death, entered into a dispute with Odysseus for the weapon of the fallen hero. It was awarded to Odysseus, and Ajax was so struck by the injustice of such a decision that he pierced himself with a sword. Where the hero’s blood spilled on the ground, hyacinths grew, the petals of which were shaped like alpha and upsilon, the initial letters of Ajax’s name.
The flower symbolized in ancient Greece not only sadness, but also certain joyful events. So, young Greek women decorated their curls with them on the days of their friends’ weddings. In modern Greece, hyacinth bulbs and flowers are used as protective amulets, hung over the doors of village houses.
The plant was also bred in Byzantium, and after the conquest by the Turks, hyacinth became one of the most beloved flowers in the Ottoman Empire. In the countries of the East, it did not symbolize sadness and death, but the curls of beautiful women, which resembled its petals in their shape. Hyacinth was an indispensable attribute of oriental harems. He was sung in verse by the poets Navoi and Firdousi.
Hyacinth bulbs came to Europe later. They first appeared in 1543 in Northern Italy, in the then famous Botanical Garden of Padua, after which they began to spread throughout Europe.
Holland can be considered the second homeland of hyacinths. When the bulbs got to the flower growers of this country, they enthusiastically started growing, and then breeding varieties of a new flower, surpassing tulips in beauty and aroma. Selection work was carried out in the direction of increasing the size of flowers, their number in the brush, creating new colors. In wild representatives of the genus, there are up to 10 flowers in the inflorescence, in modern hybrids – up to 100, white, pink, raspberry, lilac, purple and even, which was especially difficult, yellow hyacinths of any shade are grown. Finally, we managed to get terry forms of flowers. The creation of the first terry variety, called “King of Great Britain”, was an event for the gardening community not only in Holland, but also in other countries. This variety is considered the ancestor of all modern double hyacinths.
At the beginning of the 18th century, it was terry varieties that were considered the most expensive. By this time, about 200 varieties had been created in Holland, but new items were extremely expensive. So, ordinary bulbs were sold for 500 – 1000 guilders, especially rare varieties – up to 20,000 guilders. For comparison, hay in those days cost a few pfennigs (pfennig – 1/320 of a guilder). Such a high price was due to the complexity of reproduction. The bulb could bloom for several years and not produce babies. Only after empirically found ways to stimulate the formation of children by cross-cutting the mother bulb or cutting out its bottom, it became possible to mass-produce hyacinths and sell them to other countries.
Until now, Holland is the largest producer of bulbs of these flowers in all European countries, which is due both to the art of local flower growers and exceptionally favorable external conditions. Sandy soil with a close occurrence of groundwater allows the bulbs to constantly receive moisture from below and at the same time prevents flooding during the rainy season, and a warm winter with almost no negative temperatures provides them with the opportunity to ripen properly.
Hyacinths were very popular in Germany, where in the second half of the 18th century the world’s first exhibition of these flowers was held in Berlin. In France, the culture of growing flowers in vessels with water was especially widespread.
In pre-revolutionary Russia, hyacinths were not so common, they bloomed only in the gardens of rich nobles. The bulbs were very expensive, they were brought from Holland, for the best formation of the flower arrow for the dormant period they were sent to the Mediterranean Sea. Over time, flower growers determined the optimal temperature for stable flowering and the duration of storage of the bulbs, after which there was no need to carry them abroad. Hyacinths became cheaper, they were grown in gardens and used for forcing. Now the plants are cultivated in the middle lane, but in a warmer climate, the results of growing hyacinths in open ground are incomparably better, they bloom more profusely and form many children.