Muscaris or grape hyacinths produce charming fragrant blue or white flowers above dense basal clusters. Commonly found in the Mediterranean and Southwestern regions of Asia, these delightful hardy bulbs reminiscent of miniature hyacinths are excellent for naturalising in the woodland borders, rockeries, and containers. Easy to grow and inexpensive, they will lift spring planting and bring much needed nectar for early pollinators. Try mixing with miniature daffodils and early tulips or plant en masse to enjoy a bold sea of colour. Muscari also look especially beautiful interlaced with different shades of blue, from the palest blue like Azureum to the darkest blue of Latifolium.
Plant around 10 cm deep and around 5-8 cm apart in moderately fertile, well-drained soil enriched with a little compost such as John Innes Nº2, in dappled shade or full sun — allowing for around 50-75 bulbs per square meter. Avoid overfeeding your muscaris as too much of a good thing can prevent them from producing flowers. After flowering, allow the foliage to die back naturally before removing it as it is a great source of nutrients for the bulbs. Every few years, lift and divide congested clumps and replant bulblets. It will take a few years for them to flower but the wait will be worth it.
Always unpack on arrival and store in a cool place until ready to plant. Take care! Wear gloves when handling muscaris as they can cause skin irritation. The bulbs should not be eaten.
Potential problems, pests and diseases:
Generally, muscaris do not suffer from any serious diseases or pest problems. However, they may be affected by viruses. These can cause a number of problems ranging from the appearance of deformed leaves and flowers to colour patterns and streaking. It is advisable to lift and destroy any affected plant at first sight.