This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol2", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
The florist's Hyacinth has descended in the course of centuries from the wild Hyacinthus orientalis, and there are now hundreds of varieties on the market. A good trade is done not only in the bulbs in autumn, but also in forced flowering plants in pots or ornamental bowls early in the year, and in the cut bloom. The bulbs for planting in gardens may be purchased wholesale from Dutch growers from 90s. and upwards per 1000 in mixed varieties; while bulbs in separate colours, requiring more care and selection, will cost anything from 110s. to 130s. per 1000. The choicest varieties, however, true to name and colour, will cost from 20s. to 50s. and more per 100 wholesale, to which carriage, etc, must be added. Prices fluctuate every year according to good or bad seasons, and other trade influences.
For market purposes Hyacinths are usually grown in pots. Three bulbs are placed in a 5-in. (48) pot, in fairly good soil, the bulbs being about half-buried, with the tops level with the rim of the pot or a little above it. They are potted up as soon as possible in September and October, and the pots being placed side by side are covered over with about 6 in. of soil or sifted ashes (not, however, before an inverted flower pot is put over the bulbs) - as a protection against frost, and also to encourage the development of roots. As required for market, batches are brought into a warm greenhouse, with a night temperature of not less than 60° or 65° F., where they soon push their leaves and flower spikes under proper attention to watering, etc. When the "bells" - as the flowers are often called - are nicely open, a slender stake is driven into each bulb, and the flower spike is tied to it with a piece of raffia. This prevents it falling over, and enables the plants to ride better in transit to market by road or rail when packed in shallow boxes. Some growers only use one stake, and tie the raffia from that round the three spikes of bloom - thus saving stakes, raffia, time, and labour. Hundreds of thousands of pot Hyacinths find their way to market every winter and spring season - from Christmas to the end of April - and one can imagine the weight and expense in pots and soil this involves, apart from the money spent in firing to bring the flowers on at the proper time. Something like 200 varieties of single-flowered and from 60 to 100 double-flowered Hyacinths are catalogued, but only very few find favour amongst growers for market. The most popular are: La Grandesse and Mont Blanc, among single whites, and La Tour de Vierge, double white.
The best market Red Hyacinths are Garibaldi, General Pelissier, both early; and Robert Steiger, late. The best blues are Leopold I and Charles Dickens, and the best pinks are Moreno, single, and Noble Permerelte, double.
Large numbers of Hyacinth bulbs are sold also for cultivation in the open air, in bowls, vases, etc, as practised by private growers and public gardeners.