INFORMATION ABOUT FEATHER HYACINTH…
By: Nikki Phipps
Image by Maurid80 The feathery plume-like flowers of the Feather Hyacinth (Muscari comosum ‘plumosum’) create a soft haze of lilac-purple wherever it is located. They are striking in the garden and great for containers and indoor forcing.
The name of the genus, Muscari, comes from the Greek word musk. These odd-looking plants are native to somewhat arid places around the Mediterranean regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia. It is probably the most distinctive of the Muscari species, with a long history of cultivation dating back to the early 1600s.
The bulb of feather hyacinth has a pinkish color, and the leaves are broader than other Muscari species. Women in Turkey used to wear this hyacinth in their hair as a sign that they were marrying. It has also been used for its diuretic and stimulant properties.
In appearance it is unlike any other grape hyacinth. In fact, it doesn’t resemble grapes at all. It has a fluffy or cottony flower that looks more like a purple feather duster on a short, stubby stalk, reaching around 6 inches in height. The feather hyacinth blooms in early spring and lasts for about 2-3 weeks, sometimes more.
All of the flowers of this unusual muscari are mauve to purple-blue in color with shimmering silver highlights. In full bloom the showy purple blooms attract bees and butterflies. While it has been said to be sweet-smelling, it is only faintly aromatic.
Their long-lasting blooms make excellent cut-flower bouquets. Feather hyacinths are also good for planting in rock gardens, in the front of beds and borders, or along walkways and paths. They mix well with other early blooming bulbs and are a popular container plant.
Feather hyacinths look best in masses and loose drifts, and are particularly nice when allowed to naturalize under trees and shrubs. They stand out nicely alongside the rich yellow of daffodils and forsythia shrubs.
Feather hyacinths are so easy to grow that no garden should be without them. Well-drained, humus-rich soil is generally ideal, but this hardy little plant will tolerate most soil conditions. An autumn planting about 5 inches deep is usually sufficient to be protected during cold snaps. If grown in extremely cold climates, however, deeper planting and winter mulching may be required.
Although it may tolerate shade and dryness, feather hyacinth prefers full sun and moisture during its growing season and arid conditions during summer dormancy.