When you can hardly wait for spring, one of the first signs, besides the robins, are the sturdy flowers that manage to poke their heads above the ground as early as possible. The mylar plant, also known as a hyacinth, is sure to be among the early flowering group.
New Family Name
The mylar plant, identified as a bulbous herb, was originally classified as a member of the lily family (Liliaceae). Now a new plant genus has been created, Hyacinthaceae, for the many varieties of the hyacinth. Divided by color, there are almost 30 different hyacinths. Turkmenistan, Iran and the eastern Mediterranean region are the native home of the mylar plant.
The long, slender leaves, which are about 1 inch wide, grow upward to 12 inches. Only 1/2 inch in size, the individual flowers cluster together on 6- to 8-inch spikes to make a spectacular show in colors ranging from white and yellow to red, pink, purple and blue. Aside from the variety of colors that can be achieved with hyacinths, you might just be growing them for their effusive fragrance.
Where To Plant
Easy to please, a mylar/hyacinth requires full sun and average, well-drained soil. Plant the bulbs 7 to 8 inches deep and 6 inches apart, unless they are sharing the flower bed with other plants; then allow 10 inches. If you don't have a garden, don't despair. Hyacinths adapt well to growing in pots. They will still need the sunshine and well-drained soil. An added advantage of growing in containers is the elimination of digging planting holes for each individual bulb. Neither will you have the worry about squirrels and other critters munching on your bulbs. Regardless of where you plant them, in the ground or in a container, they need to be watered when you first plant the bulb, and if it doesn't rain, water once a week. You can force them to bloom indoors with the use of a bulb vase, which are hourglass shaped with the top portion being bulb-sized.
The mylar/hyacinth has an ancient history. The plant dates back to ancient times, such as during Roman era. Even Homer at the end of the Greek Dark Ages wrote of hyacinths. Commercial cultivation has occurred since the second half of the 16th century. By the 18th century they were very popular and continue as such today, both for their flower spikes and their fragrance.
Odds and Ends
The skin or jacket on a hyacinth bulb has a substance that can cause skin irritation or itching, so it is wise to wear gardening gloves when handling them.
You can determine the flower color by looking at the bulb. If you want yellow or white flowers, look for bulbs with a tan-colored skin. Naturally, a reddish jacket or skin on a bulb indicates flowers that will be red or pink. When you want blue or purple blooms, look for a bulb with a purplish papery jacket.
The name Hyacinthus (the hyacinth genus) is the Latin word for Hyakinthos. According to Greek mythology, Apollo loved a young man (Hyakinthos), who died accidentally. Apollo turned his blood into flowers, which he named for his fallen friend.
Normal bloom time for mylar/hyacinth is March to April.
March 7th is World Hyacinth Day.