Grape Hyacinth Planting Guide

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.

Choosing a Growing Site

Grape hyacinths are content in a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade.

Soil Prep

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.

When to Plant Grape Hyacinths

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. These bulbs should not be held over for planting in the spring. It's important for bulbs to have time to root in if they are to be able to absorb the required moisture and nutrients needed to thrive.

How to Plant Muscari Bulbs

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.

During the Growing Season

Muscari need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two.

At Season’s End

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.

Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs

Planning to force your bulbs or plant pre-chilled bulbs in winter? Read this! Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs

Insider Tips

  1. Plant about 10 bulbs per square foot. They’ll spread over time.
  2. Unlike most spring flowering bulbs, grape hyacinths often produce tufts of foliage in the fall. While a bit unusual, this isn’t grounds for concern; it’s normal for these plants.
  3. Muscari flowers are fragrant; plant where you can enjoy the scent. The more you plant, the more fragrance there is.
  4. Have limited gardening space? Grape hyacinths grow well in containers. They are delightful with dwarf daffodils.
  5. These are adorable little flowers for a bud vase on your bedside table.
  6. If you live in a warm part of the country, where spring arrives early, make sure to plant your outdoor grape hyacinths by late November to give the bulbs time to root in. Otherwise, they may begin to sprout before supporting roots have developed. 
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Success Snapshot

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.

GUIDE: Grape Hyacinth Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: