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Looking for an easy to please source of brilliant blue for your spring garden? Grape hyacinths, or muscari, are ideal candidates, with short stems festooned in clusters of sky blue, cobalt blue, purple or white. Never fussy, delightfully inexpensive and willing to self-seed and expand the bright dots of blue. Oh, and unappealing to squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and deer. Yes, you should include at least a few of these in your garden.
Grape hyacinths are content in a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade.
Muscari plants thrive in average soil and don’t require any special conditions. Look for a site that drains well; as with most bulbs, good drainage helps avoid bulb rot. If your soil is heavy (clay or compacted) consider digging in generous amounts of soil amendments such as a mix of course sand and compost, leaf mold or well-rotten manure to help with drainage. Note: we do not recommend using bone meal as it encourages pets and pests to dig up the bulbs you just planted.
Plant in the fall, when soil in your area has started to cool. These bulbs can be planted right up until the soil freezes in cold regions, although earlier planting provides more time for bulb roots to grow. Note that the roots on winter hardy bulbs continue to grow, albeit more slowly, when soils are quite chilly but not yet frozen.
Dig holes 4” deep and blend a handful or two of compost into the soil you removed. Add a bit of the amended soil back into the holes and plant your grape hyacinth bulbs about 3” below the soil line. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end facing up, fill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb. While there won’t be any visible growth the first fall, the bulb’s roots will be growing and creating a network for absorbing nutrients and moisture.
Plant about 10 grape hyacinth bulbs per square foot.
Muscari need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two.
After flowering, your grape hyacinth leaves will photosynthesize and create food for next year’s show. Then the bulbs will slip into dormancy and sleep through the summer. The bulbs will stay hydrated with just average moisture during the summer and don’t need supplemental water. When fall temperatures cool, the bulbs will develop new roots and then wait for spring rains and warmth to prompt the next cycle of growth and blooms.
Planning to force your bulbs or plant pre-chilled bulbs in winter? Read this! Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Average, well drained
Depth: Plant 3-4 inches deep
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Beds, borders, meadows, naturalized areas and containers
Tip: Super easy and colorful. No garden should be without these.
They Start Out looking Like This:
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