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Muscari - Spires of Sapphire

Muscari are no-care bulbs that are a must have in every garden or landscape. They are deer resistant, naturalize well, make a good cut flower and are easy to grow in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. They bloom mid to late spring. Blue is the most common color, particularly armeniacum, although several other colors and bi-colors are available. Their height rarely exceeds 12 inches.

Muscari are not as glamorous as the showier bulbs but they are nonetheless popular for filling gaps in the border and as a companion to tulips and daffodils. With their bright blue color, they can provide a beautiful contrast to yellow daffodils like King Alfred, to brilliant red tulips or underplanted bellow azaleas and dogwoods.

The word Muscari comes from the Greek word muschos for musk, for the sweet scent of the flowers. Their common name, Grape Hyacinth, refers to the flowers which resemble clusters of blue grapes. The Hyacinth part of the common name comes from Dutch Hyacinths, as they are part of the same family.

The flowers are clustered on the stem like an upside down bunch of grapes. Each tiny flower consists of 6 petals which are fused together leaving an outward facing opening, often with a white rim. The stem is leafless but one or two fleshy long linear leaves grow from the base and appear before the flowers - often in Fall so they make a good "marker" bulb. The flowers appear in Spring and continue to grow, withering into dormancy for 2 or 3 months in the Summer.

We carry several types of Muscari. Latifolium is a pretty bi-color with dark blue at the base and lighter blue on top; Album is white on longer stems (5-10"); Plumosum has a loose plume of feathery violet branch-like flowers; Fantasy Creation is a double-flowering armeniacum which looks like small heads of broccoli - the flower starts out blue but becomes green as it fades.

Plant Muscari in large clusters or drifts for a spectacular spring show. Where to plant? There are many choices! Under a deciduous tree, in a rock garden or Spring border, in a pot. Muscari bulbs are small, so plant around an inch deep. If planting in a pot, plant them closely together in September for February or March bloom. Do not fertilize.

Muscari like moderate shade, although they are very tolerant of full shade or even full sun if watered frequently. The soil should be well drained, slightly acid and not too rich. Plant in drifts of at least twenty-five for full effect. Planted next to Daffodils, the color contrast does them both a good turn.

Muscari have very few problems, but beware! All types of rodents love them. So plant under chicken wire or plant with daffodils or scilla, which they dislike.

After Care
Do not cut the foliage until it completely dies back, as it continues to produce starches and sugars well after the flowers fade, helping to strengthen the bulb and allowing the plant to live through its dormant season. Grape Hyacinths will naturalize rapidly, forming large colonies. Divide if you want to increase even more, but don't cut the flowers - their seeds will mature and help the plants to spread. Muscari are hardy so don't worry about winter chill.

Muscari are so easy to grow, even the least experienced gardener will have no trouble getting results.


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