Muscari

Planting muscari is easy, as it will grow anywhere

Apart from their startling blue colouration, muscari, or grape hyacinths, are often viewed as unremarkable spring-flowering bulbs, best used for underplanting more flamboyant tulips. But there’s more to muscari than meets the eye, with some fabulous colour variants and extraordinary flower structures.

From the 42 known species, only 27 are in general cultivation, with M. armeniacum, M. botryoides, M. comosum and M. latifolium among the most well established. 

Breeders are now bringing in new colour breaks and selecting distinctive shades from existing varieties to swell the choice for gardeners.

Others species have interesting characteristics such as M. latifolium, which changes shade as the first flowers age to reveal two tones of blue. 

Muscari grow naturally around the Mediterranean basin, into North Africa and through into central and south-western Asia, usually in well-drained soil, with winter moisture and a hot, dry summer a clue to how they’re best grown.

Planted in autumn with other spring bulbs they’re easy to grow, performing best in full sun to light shade, in most well-drained soils, except thin chalk ones and those too rich in nutrients.

Once happy, they’ll soon clump up, with some such as M.b armeniacum able to naturalise in gravel gardens, borders and short grassland. They’re also great in pots.

The astonishing sterile flower heads of the tassel flower M. comosum ‘Plumosum’ can be damaged by blustery, cold winds, so avoid planting them in an exposed position.