Muscari - The Grape Hyacinth - will grow virtually anywhere in the garden or in containers of various sorts.
These are superb bulbs for the front of a border, and will soon spread to fill any available space - whether in full sun or semi shade. As container subjects, Muscari bulbs they are valuable in that they will flower every spring with very little care or attention. The fact that they are but a few inches tall makes them all the more attractive - and useful!
Muscari armeniacum and its many cultivars in the mainstay of garden planting, though Muscari comosum is one that I have been very happy to grow. Most of the bulbs that you will find during Autumn in garden centres - and the potted clumps to be found in the spring - will be of Muscari armeniacum. It will give no problems - simply flower and spread year after year.
Light or deep blue is the colour of choice. However, there is a white form - Muscari azureum f. album is a stunning white.
Conventional wisdom has it that the Muscari should be planted in full sun - and from its origins of Asia and the Mediterranean, you would expect this to be the case. However, I have seen splendid clumps in shade beneath shrubs, that have been quite acceptable, and doing much to brighten up a dark spot.
Muscari are very easy to grow, and maybe because of this (fault) they are often neglected! If properly cared for they will repay you even more than the neglected clumps.
It is easy to see why Muscari were dubbed with the common name of Grape Hyacinths. The bunches of individual flowers that make up the whole, are just like miniature bunches of grapes. But of course, they are flowers and not fruit. We have no knowledge of any parts of the plant being poisonous, but as with all garden bulbs - it should be assumed that they are not for eating.
Buying and Planting Muscari Bulbs. Bulbs of Muscari are freely available from late Summer onwards and often sold in pre-pack bags. It is normal to be able to buy better bulbs when displayed loose. Obviously choose firm bulbs with no sign of rot or damage that could lead to rot.
The Muscari bulbs should be planted in Autumn, at a depth of around 4in deep (10cm) and not too close together - unless for a quick display in a container for spring flowers. Those that are for growing into drifts will be fine at around 6 to 8 in apart. Closer if you want a quick cover. I find that planting them in groups of 5-7 bulbs with a small gap between clumps leads to a nice natural looking display in the first year. Muscari readily seed and multiply, so will soon be a substantial drift after just two to three years.
Simply let them flower and die down naturally in the spring. They will need no special treatment. However, after four or so years, they will need to be lifted and the clumps divided and replanted. This is best done as soon as the foliage has died off, or at any time during the summer dormancy period. This will allow for more vigour and a better flowering display. They should be left in the ground - being fully hardy - and not lifted for storage.
Seed can be saved and sown as soon as ripe in the spring - leave in a cold frame or in a container under a hedge until germinated. The young seedlings should be grown for a further year, when they will produce small bulbs. Then they can be planted in flowering positions, but with not too much of a display in the first year.
Far better to lift and divide the mature clumps and also remove any offset bulb during this operation. The divided clumps will flower well the next year. The offsets will take a further year to produce flower.
Muscari are reported to sometimes suffer from virus diseases. This has never been noticed by the writer. If virus is noticed, then dig up the affected areas and leave the areas barren for a couple of years. Destroy any affected bulbs.