Muscari, commonly known as Grape Hyacinth, are so winter hardy and easy to grow that no garden should be without them. The genus Muscari contains about 30 species. Some of these, such as Muscari botryoides and Muscari comosum, originated in the Mediterranean region, while others of this genus can be found in their natural habitats in Asia Minor and the Caucasus.
Highly versatile, Muscari armeniacum is by far the most cultivated species. Its tiny, bell-shaped, cobalt-blue flowers, each with a very delicate white border, form a compact cluster. A famous planting of them at the Keukenhof gardens in Holland is known as the 'blue river'; this is a dense planting of muscari that winds through the shrubs, some of which bloom at the same time.
- An additional benefit is that all Muscari have a lovely fragrance. The more you plant, the more fragrance you get!
- Planted in the fall, Muscari does well within hardiness zones 4 to 8 and will nicely bloom in mid to late spring, depending on the weather conditions and species.
- Planting depth is about 4 inches (10 cm) in a well-drained, moist soil.
- Muscari will thrive in full sun or shady areas and can naturalize easily if planted in a favourable location where no water can settle during the winter.
- Perfect for planting in containers, Muscari makes outstanding border plants where they show well when planted among perennial plants. This holds true for the border containing various colors, but especially for color co-ordinated borders and blue borders in particular. Their color is also lovely next to miniature narcissi and low-flowering tulips or yellow-flowering perennial plants such as Doronicum orientale.
- Always plant plenty of bulbs (at least 25) in a group to obtain a pleasing visual effect. A spot under deciduous shrubs is another place where grape hyacinths will be attractive as the flowering period for grape hyacinths comes at a time when the shrubs are still bare.
Under trees or deciduous shrubs
In pots and containers
As border plants
- Using grape hyacinths as bedding plants is not done so often anymore, although they are obviously perfect for fulfilling this role. For such a massive color effect, they have to be planted closely together. Bedding arrangements using combinations of late-flowering yellow narcissi and red tulips, for example, are very pretty. Many muscari species are also perfect for planting in containers, although the species we most commonly see used this way is M. armeniacum. All kinds of combinations are imaginable, but perhaps the use of miniature narcissi and low-flowering tulips is the most eligible.
If you love Muscari and would like to enjoy their beautiful show for weeks, select a few early and late flowering varieties. Here are some suggestions.