By Heather Rhoades
The grape hyacinth flowering bulb gets its name because of the way its bell-shaped clusters of flowers grow, resembling an upside down cluster of grapes. They are commonly found in a lovely cobalt shade of blue but they are available in different shades of blue and in white too.
Grape Hyacinth Bulb Culture
Grape hyacinths are small flowers, only reaching a maximum height of about eight inches tall. They grow from bulbs that produce slender, green, almost glass-like leaves. Many small flowers grow off of an erect stem, very close together, giving them the grape-like look. They are native to Asia but can be found growing in most parts of the world.
Grape hyacinth is a member of the Liliaceae (Lily) family of plants and are of the genus Muscari. There are several different varieties, with some having larger or more open type flowers when they bloom. The common form of grape hyacinth is called Muscari armeniacum. The white form of a grape hyacinth is called Muscari botryoides ‘Album’.
Grape hyacinth is cold hardy in zones 3 through 8 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Because they are so cold hardy and easy to grow, they are quite popular in many spring flowering gardens.
Planting Grape Hyacinths
How to grow and care for a grape hyacinth flower is extremely easy.
Grape hyacinth makes a lovely border plant around a flower bed or in a rock garden. Planting them en mass provides the best view and the strongest scent, but they look good when planted singly in a mixed bed or naturalized in your garden or lawn also. Additionally, planting grape hyacinth in drifts gives you an almost waterfall-like effect and can be quite beautiful. They make a good choice when you are looking for something to plant under deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves each year) as well.
Grape hyacinth does well as a cut flower for bouquets, where their scent can be brought indoors. Place some at your bedside and awaken on spring mornings to their utterly delightful scent. They can also be forced to bloom as houseplants in pots, but the bulb will need to be chilled for some time (up to twelve weeks) to do this properly.
Plant your grape hyacinth bulbs in the fall for a spring showing. Their planting instructions and care are very similar to the common hyacinth in that they are closely related.
Plant grape hyacinth bulbs with at least three inches of soil over their heads and flat sides down, leaving two to three inches between bulbs.
Grape hyacinth flowers prefer full sun but will do well in partial shade as well. They need rich, well-draining soil, so be sure to pick a spot that doesn’t get muddy even in the winter.
Grape Hyacinth Care
When their blooms have faded, let the foliage die back naturally. The fading foliage is what feeds your bulbs and re-energizes them for the following year.
Water your flowers consistently during the growing season as part of your routine grape hyacinth care.
Once planted, grape hyacinths only need an occasional shot of bulb fertilizer to keep them healthy and returning year after year. Given time, your bulbs will even multiply and create an even larger show in the spring.