Craze for black hyacinth causes stocks to run out

The popularity of a black scented hyacinth means it will not be available in the UK again until 2011.

A leading seed firm this week admitted one of its novelty plants has been a victim of its own success. Managing director Paul Hansord of Thompson & Morgan (T&M) Young Plants in Suffolk said it had made a “dramatic underestimate” of demand for the first black scented hyacinth, ‘Midnight Mystique’. With over 50,000 bulbs sold since its high-profile Chelsea flower show launch in 2005, Hansord said the variety, priced at £9.99 per bulb, will not be available again in the UK until 2011. Hansord, who spotted ‘Midnight Mystique’ in Holland seven years ago and secured all supplies for T&M, said: “We will have to take it out of production in the UK. At first, we were worried about being left with bulbs we may not be able to sell. But the reality was a dramatic underestimate in demand. We should have had in excess of 200,000 bulbs, not 50,000.” T&M, which plans to launch ‘Midnight Mystique’ in the US, has fewer than 1,000 bulbs for sale in the UK. Bulking up new supplies will be painfully slow as the variety must be grown from tissue culture. This “long and expensive process” requires 18 months of laboratory procedures before stock can be weaned and grown in the field to a flowering bulb size. T&M’s decision to unveil Hyacinthus ‘Midnight Mystique’ on Sun Flower Street at Chelsea was a big marketing success, with national newspapers carrying the story to millions of potential customers.

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