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The genus Muscari is a group of perennial plants with over 30 species.
The genus was classified in the family Liliaceae but was moved to the asparagus family Asparagaceae.
In 1754, Philip Miller established the genus Muscari. The name muscari comes from the Greek word muschos, musk, referring to the scent.
The common name for the genus is blue grape hyacinth. The plants are very winter hardy and easy to care for, making them a top flowering bulb choice for any spring garden.
Many of the Muscari species are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and parts of Asia.
One of the most popular varieties is Muscari armeniacum, pronounced [mus-KAR-ee ar-men-ee-AH-kum].
The plant features bell-shaped blue flowers that resemble clusters of small grapes.
Armeniacum is the most popular there are other species of Muscari including:
- Muscari comosum ‘Plumosum’ (feather Hyacinth) sometimes sold as Muscari plumosum with fragrant frilly lavender-purple blooms
- Muscari latifolium, a slow spreading muscari bulb from Northwest Turkey with blue-black flowers.
- Muscari botryoides ‘Album’ – white flowers will tolerate summer drought, for rock gardens and borders.
- Muscari aucheri ‘Ocean Magic’ is a short plant, white lobes with bright blue flowers, slow grower, spring flowers.
- Muscari racemosum – Carl Linnaeus in 1753 used the name Hyacinthus muscari for racemosum.
Suitable for almost every environment, the Muscari are resilient but a few essential care tips should still be followed.
Muscari Plant Care
Size and Growth
Fall Planting: All varieties of Muscari bulbs are typically planted at the end of fall, just before the first frost of winter.
When the warmer weather arrives in spring, the flower bulbs send up leaves but doesn’t get very tall.
These spring bulbs typically reach about six to eight inches high with thick grass-like leaves.
When grown in a dense cluster, the leaves almost resemble green onions.
TIP: Be careful when growing outdoors as the plant spreads quickly and is considered invasive in many regions.
Flowering and Fragrance
The flowers are the main reason these plants are cultivated in the spring garden.
The Muscari produces clusters of flowers that resemble bunches of grapes turned upside down.
The bloom time varies depending on the variety from April through May (late spring).
The cobalt-blue flower clusters appear on the tips of long stems growing from the center of the bulbs.
Most varieties are dark blue or violet but pink and white varieties are sometimes available.
The Muscari plants are early spring bloomers. In fact, these plants tend to produce the first beautiful blooms of the spring, signaling warmer weather.
Light and Temperature
Suitable for outdoor growth in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8, Muscari are winter hardy plants in most regions.
They grow well in full sun or partial shade as they’re not picky plants.
The only issue to watch for is extreme sun or shade.
Watering and Feeding
Fertilizer isn’t needed to keep this hardy plant alive but care is needed when watering.
These plants are prone to rot when waterlogged.
Throughout the spring and summer, water sufficiently, especially when the plants are exposed to lots of sunshine.
If the soil is oversaturated after watering, it may not offer enough drainage.
During periods of rain, watering can be avoided.
Soil and Transplanting
While this plant is relatively easy to grow, it does require a well-drained soil.
Loose soil enriched with compost offers the perfect environment for Muscari hyacinth bulbs.
At planting time the bulbs should be planted with the roots facing down.
It also helps to grow several bulbs together whether growing in the ground or a container.
Grooming isn’t required but may help improve the health of struggling plants.
After the flowering season, the seeds may settle around the plant, taking up important nutrients.
Use garden scissors or pruners to trim the plant back. Cut just below the flower clusters, removing the flower stock.
In the late summer or early fall, the leaves may start to turn yellow. Don’t cut them.
The leaves eventually dry up. After drying, the leaves can be pulled from the bulbs.
How To Propagate Hyacinths Muscari Bulbs
Propagation is possible with seeds or separation of side bulbs. Mature plants may form side bulbs that can be removed and planted separately in the fall.
Remove these bulbs when the leaves on the mother plant dry out.
If the flowers are not trimmed back, the seeds may settle and produce additional bulbs. In the spring, these bulbs can be planted in their own containers.
To avoid wild growth, the seeds may also be collected by trimming the flowers after they start to dry.
Place the inflorescences in paper bags and allow to dry.
At the end of the fall season, sow the seeds in soil with good drainage. The bulbs are winter hardy in most regions.
Leave them in the ground or planter until spring, when the warmer weather encourages new growth.
Muscari Pests or Disease Problems
All parts of the muscari plant are toxic to pets and children. Adults are less likely to experience a negative reaction but caution is still advised.
The Muscari are also considered invasive as the root system can spread quickly.
The main threats to the health of the plant include the usual critters such as aphids and mealybugs.
These pests can be removed with sprays of water. For major infestations, treat with an insecticide such as neem oil.
Overwatering or poor drainage may lead to rot. Discard rotted bulbs and add perlite or pumice to the soil to improve drainage.
NOTE: Muscari plants are deer resistant.
Suggested Muscari Uses
While the low-growing grape hyacinths plant is suited for use as ground cover, the fast-spreading growth may take over other plants.
Instead of planting in a carefully arranged garden bed, consider placing below shrubs, which also provide a little shade from direct sunlight.
These plants also look great in their own containers such as potted individual specimens, hanging baskets, flower pots, or window boxes.