Wood hyacinthBotanical name: Endymion...


August 24, 1991|By Amalie Adler Ascher

Wood hyacinth

Botanical name: Endymion hispanicus

Pronunciation: en-DEE-mion

Family: Liliaceae (Lily)

Origin: Spain, Portugal

Class: Bulb

Display period: May

Height: 10 to 12 inches

Environment: Semi-shade or shade

Locating information on the wood hyacinth, or Spanish bluebell, required some acquaintence with its names. In garden catalogs and shops, you're apt to find it offered as Scilla campanulata, a niche in which it easily fits, given the plant's spring-blooming bell-shaped flowers that are so typical of the genus.

Early references class the wood hyacinth as S. hispanica, an allusion to its countries of origin. The oldest designation of all, and the one John E. Bryans favors (by virtue of "historic precedence," he says) in his recently published and authoritative two-volume work, "Bulbs," is Hyacinthoides hispanica.

At this time, the official designation for the wood hyacinth, according to the International Flower Bulb Center of Hillegom, Netherlands, is Endymion hispanicus.

Whatever its name, there is universal agreement that the wood hyacinth is a treasure. Its pink, white and blue flowers are delicate and beautiful, and once planted, it gets by on its own. Bulbs, shaped like small potatoes, have no "up or down side," says Andrew Lagenvyk, manager-horticulturist at the Von Bourgondien Brothers, bulb growers of Babylon, N.Y., so it matters not which way you set them.

In autumn, plant bulbs 6 inches deep and 4 inches apart in well-drained, sandy soil, he says. Water well after planting and again when sprouting appears. Although no fertilizing is required the first season, plants will benefit thereafter from an application of a slow release 9-9-6-type product scratched into the top of the soil each fall. Foliage must be allowed to ripen after bloom has passed to insure future blossoming.

A woodland plant in cultivation since 1601, the wood hyacinth is perfect for naturalizing and placing under trees and shrubs. Plant it where it won't have to be moved so it can become established and provide many years of bloom.

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