The genus Hyacinthus is a small one, but it includes plenty of fragrant cultivars that provide glorious spring colour.
Indoors, you can force the bulbs in autumn to provide flowers as early as Christmas, or buy sprouting bulbs in spring to grow in pots or hyacinth glasses.
Hyacinths are perfectly content growing outdoors, too. To get the best display plant the bulbs in a sunny spot, in very well-drained soil. If your soil is poorly drained, plant them at the base of a sunny hedge or shrub.
Discover six of the best spring hyacinth varieties, below.
Hyacinthus ‘Delft Blue’
This stunning hyacinth variety gets its name from the Dutch city of Delft. The inky blue flowers are intensely fragrant. A good variety for growing outdoors beneath shrubs and trees.
‘Amethyst’ has soft pink flowers with an intense scent. It looks beautiful growing in the border with spring-flowering pulmonarias and primulas.
Hyacinthus ‘Blue Tango’
‘Blue Tango’ is a double-flowered hyacinth related to ‘Royal Navy’ but with soft blue flowers instead. The blooms release a powerful fragrance, so it’s a lovely choice for growing indoors.
The white flowers of ‘Carnegie’ are fabulous indoors or outdoors. Muscari, chionodoxa and forget-me-nots make ideal planting partners.
‘Woodstock’ is a stunning variety with intense purple flowers – a shade rarely seen in hyacinths. It looks especially good when planted with contrasting colours, like pale yellow daffodils and white anemones. Richly scented.
This sweetly fragrant hyacinth has rose-pink flowers, borne in tight clusters. Try planting ‘Fondant’ with forget-me-nots and white or purple tulips to create a soft colour scheme.
Once your hyacinths have finished flowering don’t be tempted to cut whole plants back. Only cut the old flower spike back to prevent energy being spent on seed production, but leave the foliage. Wait around six weeks from flowering before cutting back, so the leaves have time to produce food, which is then drawn into the bulb causing the leaves to wither.