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Muscari armeniacum

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
moo-SKAR-ee ar-mee-nee-AY-kum
Description

Grape hyacinth is a bulbous perennial herb in the Asparagaceae (asparagus) family with origins in southeastern Europe, Armenia, and Asia Minor. It can grow up to 6 inches tall and features slightly fragrant, densely packed, deep violet-blue, bell-shaped flowers that resemble an elongated, upside-down bunch of grapes, hence the common name. 

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade, under cool and moist conditions, and grows easily in average, well-drained soils. It tolerates summer drought but requires moisture during the growing season. Watering should be reduced after foliage begins to die back since dormancy occurs from late spring until autumn, when leaves again appear. Recommended propagation is by removing offsets and dividing every four to five years.  It is difficult to grow this plant from seed as it can take up to 4 years to bloom.    Plant bulbs by burying them 5 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches apart.

Mass plant it in border fronts, open areas, in grassy slopes, along the edges of rock gardens, or walkways and among shrubs and in naturalized drifts. Because it naturalizes readily, grape hyacinth can be weedy may crowd out other species. Growing it in a container would minimize that tendency. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Occasionally damaged by deer, otherwise generally pest and disease free.  

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Cantab'
    Cantab' has sky blue, sweetly scented flowers that bloom slightly later than other Muscari. ‘Cantab’ grows 0.5 to 0.75 ft. tall
  • 'Christmas Pearl'
    Soft violet blue flowers that bloom in March, earlier than the species. It grows 0.5 to 0.75 ft. tall and 0.25 to 0.5 ft. wide.
  • 'Valerie Finnis'
    Each bulb sends up 1-3 rigid flower spikes (8" tall) with elongated, cone-shaped, mildly-fragrant, densely-packed blue flowers.
'Cantab', 'Christmas Pearl', 'Valerie Finnis'
Tags:
#hardy#bulb#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#purple flowers#slow growing#weedy#aromatic#cut flowers#spring flowers#mass planting#moist soil#deer browsing plant#rock gardens#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#fantz#poor soils tolerant#border front#walkway planting#spring flowering bulbs#partial shade tolerant#HS302#ebh#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#ebh-g#non-toxic for cats#black walnut toxicity tolerant#woodland garden#container plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Cantab'
    Cantab' has sky blue, sweetly scented flowers that bloom slightly later than other Muscari. ‘Cantab’ grows 0.5 to 0.75 ft. tall
  • 'Christmas Pearl'
    Soft violet blue flowers that bloom in March, earlier than the species. It grows 0.5 to 0.75 ft. tall and 0.25 to 0.5 ft. wide.
  • 'Valerie Finnis'
    Each bulb sends up 1-3 rigid flower spikes (8" tall) with elongated, cone-shaped, mildly-fragrant, densely-packed blue flowers.
'Cantab', 'Christmas Pearl', 'Valerie Finnis'
Tags:
#hardy#bulb#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#purple flowers#slow growing#weedy#aromatic#cut flowers#spring flowers#mass planting#moist soil#deer browsing plant#rock gardens#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#fantz#poor soils tolerant#border front#walkway planting#spring flowering bulbs#partial shade tolerant#HS302#ebh#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#ebh-g#non-toxic for cats#black walnut toxicity tolerant#woodland garden#container plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Muscari
    Species:
    armeniacum
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern Europe, Armenia, Asia Minor
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 3 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    This plant produces 3-lobed capsules that are green to brown in color. In fruit, the capsules are scattered on the inflorescence axis, the round black seeds that are produced can take up to 4 years to produce blooms.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Urn
    Flower Petals:
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are numerous, royal blue with a thin white rim on each bell, urceolate, fragrant, and nodding in dense 1"-3" scapose racemes. The perianth fused most of the length, lobes are minute, paler, or white. Sterile flowers usually appear on the upper part of the raceme and are few in number, smaller, and paler. Flowers bloom in mid-spring (April/May). Some cultivars exist with pink flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Narrow, linear, fleshy, basal, green leaves, grass-like, (to 12 inches long and less than an inch wide) that appear in autumn and live through winter to spring when the plants flower and are often equal to exceeding scape. They are slightly cupped and may be a bit glaucous.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Drought
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Weedy