What is a Grape Hyacinth?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Muscari or the grape hyacinth is a small, generally purple or deep blue flower that is grown from a bulb. While gardeners may think of many of the spring-blooming flowers like crocuses, daffodils or tulips, they shouldn’t neglect this attractive performer that can bloom for up to a month or two in the early spring. Though native to the Mediterranean, the grape hyacinth is now grown in many regions, and it prospers well in most areas where winter temperatures don’t fall far below freezing.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

The name, grape hyacinth, comes from muscari’s slight resemblance to hyacinths and to bunches of grapes. The blooming flowers look like an upside down miniature bunch of grapes. The stems of the flowers are about 2 to 3 inches (5.08-7.62 cm) in length. Since these flowers are relatively short, gardeners should give some consideration to where they are planted. They should definitely be planted in front of other blooming flowers like daffodils. They make a nice combination with plants like crocuses or mini daffodils because the heights of all of these flowers are complementary.

Like many spring-blooming bulbs, the grape hyacinth is planted in the fall. Directions are to plant the bulbs in moist, but well-drained soil. The plants can tolerate full sun to partial shade, but in warmer climates they tend to do best in partial shade environments. Muscari bulbs are perennials, meaning they come back yearly. These flowers have a tendency to spread given the room, and over the years they can spread significantly, taking up lots of space in a garden. Gardeners can remove extra bulbs or break up the bulbs in the fall if they wish to limit the flowers to a specific area.

There are many features of the grape hyacinth that are praised. They have a light scent that many people find attractive. These flowers do have their disadvantages. Due to their size, they’re not particularly useful as cut flowers, unless a person has a very short vase. When cut, they usually only live a few days. On the other hand, when left on the plant, the blooms may last for up to a month.

Another aspect of the grape hyacinth that pleases gardeners is that they require little attention once they are planted. They usually don’t need to be watered and fertilizing them is optional. In many cases, they can simply be ignored, while at the same time their appearance can be enjoyed.

Gardeners can also look for unusual varieties of muscari. They can choose plants that are dark blue, purple, or even white. Essentially, the pleasing appearance, aroma, and low-maintenance aspects of these plants make them an excellent choice for many gardens.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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