Gardeners' Chronicle pp. 396, 400 (Mar. 30, 1889)

Propagating Hyacinths

It is right and proper to fit the programme to the season, but if we cannot adapt the season to the programme the result is not so satisfactory as might be desired. The Royal Horticultural Society is not to be blamed for the fact that the sunless and wet skies of the last autumn interfered somewhat with the brilliancy of the display of Hyacinths on Tuesday last. This was not so good as usual, though there was quite enough of beauty and interest in the other plants shown to compensate for any deficiency in the Hyacinths. Moreover, it was arranged that two gentlemen from Holland were to address the meeting on the subject, and their remarks were to be supplemented by a paper on the cultivation of the Hyacinth in England by Mr. DOUGLAS. The Hyacinth, therefore, was duly honoured, and the programme was properly carried out. Mr. EGBERT KERSTEN, introduced by Mr. MORRIS, the Chairman, opened the proceedings with a paper in which he dealt with the natural history of the Hyacinth, its treatment, its growth and preparation for the English market, as well as for exhibition purposes in Holland. Some 5000 men are employed, it appears, in the neighbourhood of Haarlem in the bulb culture, and four sizes of bulb are selected—first-class named sorts, bedding sorts, named mixed sorts, and miniature bulbs. The methods of propagation followed are the natural formation of new bulbs or offsets, and the artificial methods of inducing the formation of new bulbs by the processes of scooping out the base of the bulb or by slicing it, as shown in our illustrations (figs. 71 and 72, p. 396). A period of six years is required to produce saleable bulbs in this way, while the reproduction by seed is even a slower process, requiring eight years. The seeds do not, as a rule, reproduce the variety, and the process of raising from seed is little used except by the few who raise new seedlings. Double Hyacinths produce no seed as a rule, but in this country, at any rate, double Hyacinths are not now in favour, the greater elegance of the single flowers deservedly giving them a higher place in popular estimation.