Hyacinth, a genus of liliaceae, containing several species, the most important of which is hyacinthus orientalis, a native of the Levant. This has an onion-like bulb, which throws up long, narrow-channelled leaves, from among which arises a scape bearing a raceme of bell-shaped drooping flowers; the parts of the perianth are united to about the middle, and the free portions reflexed; flowers often very fragrant, appearing in early spring. This being one of the florists' flowers, great changes have been produced in it by cultivation; the size of the flower cluster has been greatly increased, the flowers are semi-double and double, and there is a great variety of colors and tints, from pure white, through various shades of red and blue, to nearly black. The number of named varieties is very large, and includes not only sell-colored ones, but double and single kinds, with flowers variously striped and shaded. The bulb growers near Haarlem in Holland supply the world with hyacinths, which form a large share of what are imported under the name of "Dutch bulbs." The eminence of the Dutch florists in the culture of this and other bulbs is in part due to a favorable soil and climate, and in part to the patient care given to their cultivation; these, with the low price of labor, have enabled them to hold a monopoly of bulb growing.

Near Haarlem over 100 acres of land are annually devoted to hyacinths; the soil is a mixture of sand and alluvium, and permanently supplied with the requisite moisture. New varieties are obtained by sowing seed, and it is necessary to cultivate the seedlings for six years before their real merit can be decided upon. Established varieties are multiplied from the small bulbs which form at the base of the larger ones; a bulb will naturally produce several of these, and the cultivators increase the number by wounding and cutting the bulb in various ways. The small bulbs are carefully cultivated until of a proper size for market; in order to increase its size as rapidly as possible, the bulb is not allowed to exhaust its strength in producing flowers, but the flower stem is cut away as soon as it appears. Millions of bulbs are annually imported into this country and England, and large quantities go to other countries. The best are imported by the dealers direct from the growers; it is only the poorer bulbs, from which the finer ones have been selected, that are usually offered at auction. The different varieties are put up in bags of heavy paper, with an abundance of the hulls of buckwheat, and the bags are packed in cases.

The heaviest bulbs, which show no signs of decay by being soft at the top, are to be preferred. Named sorts cost much more than assorted kinds, which for the general cultivator may be quite as satisfactory as those with names. The bulbs for outdoor culture are usually planted in October. A rich light soil is best, and well decomposed cow manure is the best fertilizer; the bulbs should be set 8 in. apart and covered to the depth of 4 in.; when cold weather comes on, the bed is to be covered with litter, which is to be left on until spring; when the plants come into flower each spike will need the support of a small stick or wire, which may be so placed as not to be noticed; when the flowers decay their stalks are cut away, and the bulbs allowed to remain until the fading of the leaves shows that they have finished their growth; they are then taken up, dried in the sun, each wrapped in a paper with its label, and kept in a cool dry place until time to plant in autumn. They do not bloom in subsequent years so well as the first. In some gardens the bulbs are left from year to year; they increase and form large clumps, which produce small spikes of flowers.

The hyacinth is an easy plant to force in the greenhouse or in an ordinary room; the bulbs should be potted in October, and the pots placed in a cool dark cellar, or in a shady corner, and covered with coal ashes; when an inspection of the pots shows that the ball of earth is well tilled with roots, they may be brought to a warm and light place, when growth of leaves and flowers will soon commence; frequent failure is due to not first securing a good growth of roots by keeping the bulb cool and from the light. The bulbs are often forced in glasses made for the purpose, filled with water; the base of the bulb should just touch the surface of the water, and the glass should be kept in the dark until the roots are well developed. Bulbs that have been forced are of little value; single varieties are preferred for forcing. - The wild hyacinth, the bluebell of England, H. nonscriptus of the older botanists, has been successively placed in several different genera, and is probably nearer a squill (scilla) than a hyacinth.

Hyacinth Bulb and Section.

Hyacinth Bulb and Section.

Hyacinth

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis).

English Bluebell.

English Bluebell.