Spanish Bluebells / Hyacinthoides

Have a spot with partial sun to moderate shade, a blank canvas tucked beneath a leafy tree or wooded area, that cries out for color in the spring? Create a soft sea of blue with Spanish bluebells. Similar to the English bluebells of poetry fame, these are their taller, straighter, sturdier cousins. 

Choosing a Growing Site

Choosing a site in full sun to partial shade. In warmest regions, late day shade or dappled light helps to prolong the blooming window. Spanish bluebells can be grown under deciduous trees, along shrub borders and in perennial beds.

Soil Prep

Look for a site with soil that drains well. If there are still puddles several hours after a rain, scout out another spot. Turn in some compost before starting to plant or as you tuck in individual bulbs to provide nutrients and to help keep the soil lighter. Plant roots need oxygen and compost helps keep the soil from compacting, forcing out the air.  

When to Plant

Plant in the fall, from September through November, when the soil has cooled in your area but hasn’t frozen.  These bulbs sprout roots and develop a network in the cool fall soil. Spanish bluebells are more tolerant of late planting than many bulbs, so if the bulbs got ordered a bit late, it’s okay.  Spanish bluebell bulbs should not be held over and planted in the spring. It's important for the bulbs to have time to root in if they are to be able to absorb the moisture and nutrients needed to thrive. 

How to Plant Leucojum Bulbs

Loosen the soil to 6” deep and dig holes about 4-5” deep. Add a handful or two of compost to the soil you removed. Examine your bulb and find the pointy end. That’s the top where the new sprout will appear. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointy end facing upwards. Fill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb. Plant bulbs about 4-5” apart. 

During the Growing Season

Hyacinthoides need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two during the spring when they are actively growing. These plants bloom in the late spring to early summer and that’s when they are actively growing.

Spanish bluebells are lovely in spring arrangements with large, ribbed hosta leaves. Feel free to cut some for indoor enjoyment. 

At Season’s End

When your Spanish bluebells have finished their spring flowering, cut off the flower stalks if you like but leave the foliage in place until it yellows. While still green, it is converting the sunlight into plant food through photosynthesis and nourishing the bulbs for next spring.  When the leaves are yellow and pop off easily with a little tug, feel free to remove them.

Insider Tips

1. Spanish bluebells are outstanding early season partners for hostas. By the time the hosta leaves are fully unfurled, the bluebells have bloomed and are ready to sleep.  

2. Confused about botanical names? Spanish bluebells are also known as Scilla campanulata, Scilla hispanica and Endymion hispanicus.  

3. These plants have no significant critter, insect or disease problems. Get them settled in and they’ll take care of themselves. 

4. The surface chemistry of hyacinthoides bulbs encourages the growth of blue-green penicillin mold. This looks odd but doesn’t hurt the bulbs. If the bulbs are firm, they are fine. The mold dies when the bulbs are planted, so not to worry. 

shop Spanish bluebells
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Average, well drained

Depth: Plant 4-5 inches deep

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Beds, borders, meadows, naturalized areas and containers 

Tip: Super easy and colorful. Nice for early bouquets. 

GUIDE: Spanish Bluebells

They Start Out Looking Like This: