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Purple-Black Hyacinths (Midnight Mystic®)

Continuing my quest to find the darkest flowers I can successfully grow at home, I planted some Hyacinth 'Midnight Mystic'® bulbs last year. They've been flowering throughout March, and have produced some really pretty purple-black blooms.

Developed and marketed as a stunning, unusual hardy black hyacinth with a heavenly scent by the plant breeders Thompson & Morgan, the 'Midnight Mystic'® variety debuted at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2005. I'm used to seeing hyacinths in white, pink and a purplish-blue, but none as dark as these promised to be. I bought 16 bulbs for £17.99 plus £4.95 delivery from Thompson & Morgan's website in July for delivery by the end of August.

I planted the bulbs in compost-filled pots towards the end of October, and kept them in our garage over winter. It was no warmer than leaving them outside, but it stopped them from becoming waterlogged (I forgot to drill drainage holes in the pots before filling them). By February, the greenery of the plants was starting to emerge. The garage was fairly dark with only one small window, so I moved them out of the garage and into a sheltered garden spot instead.

Since then, they've thrived, and flowers appeared around the start of March. The flowers were a dark purple when they first appeared, and over time they've seemed to get gradually darker, becoming an impressive purple-black in shaded light. In bright sunlight, they looked more of a rich plum colour. As of today, the flowers still looked OK, although the plants' stems had drooped and couldn't support their weight. I decided to cut them to take a few pictures in vases, although I expect they'll last only a day or two like that. I suppose I could have lifted the plants whole for a longer-lasting indoor display, but I didn't want to disturb and potentially damage the bulbs.

My hyacinths haven't quite achieved the nearly-true-black I've seen in the marketing pictures, but I think they look lovely, and I'll definitely try to grow them again next year. According to Thompson & Morgan's website, bulbs 'forced' and grown indoors won't achieve the best black flowers, but it's not clear if that's due to the higher temperatures or the limited light exposure. I will want to experiment with new bulbs as well as reusing this years' ones, and see if more sunlight early on gives a darker colour.

The 'Midnight Mystic'® bulbs are not currently listed on Thompson & Morgan's website, but will probably be available for pre-order sometime in the summer.