Muscari, also called grape hyacinth, is a charming spring-blooming bulb that offers a delightful range of blue and purple shades to the garden. Most varieties of Muscari grow best in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil.
Like other spring-blooming bulbs, you'll need to plant Muscari in autumn. Unlike other bulbs, Muscari often sends up foliage in fall. Take advantage of this and plant muscari with your other bulbs to remember where they're planted.
Gardening with Muscari
Most Muscari varieties grow about 8 inches tall, making them most visible and effective when planted in large groups -- the more, the better. One of the most famous landscape plantings of Muscari is the Keukenhof in the Netherlands, where it's planted to look like a river.
Muscari is also a perfect pick for naturalistic woodland gardens, where its beautiful blooms welcome spring alongside early-blooming perennials such as hepatica and lungwort.
The classic grape hyacinth, this species features rich, true-blue flowers and blooms a little later than many of the other species. Muscari armeniacum is a great naturalizer, spreading relatively quickly to form impressive clumps over time in the garden. It grows 8 inches tall.
Muscari 'Lady Blue'
An unusual color for grape hyacinths, Muscari armeniacum 'Lady Blue' features densely packed silvery-gray flower spikes that have a clean, contemporary look in the landscape. Pair it with much deeper-color varieties to show off the strong color contrast. It grows about 8 inches tall.
Muscari 'Blue Spike'
Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike' is a fun choice for gardeners who are looking for something a little different. The small blue flowers are double, giving the flower spike a much fuller, denser appearance. It's fantastic for planting along a path or forcing in a container so you can enjoy the interesting flowers close up.
Muscari 'Blue Spike' grows 8 inches tall.
Get a two-tone look with this fun species! Discovered in the wild in the 1800s, Muscari latifolium features flower spikes that are light blue on the top and dark violet-blue on the bottom. The leaf is a little wider than the traditional grape hyacinth, helping it add extra texture when planted with other varieties.
Muscari latifolium grows 8 inches tall.
This fun selection offers some of the darkest violet-blue flowers to be found on any grape hyacinth. Look closely and you'll notice the blooms have a greenish tone underneath the purple. It grows 12 inches tall.
Note: You may also see this variety sold as Bellevalia pycnantha.
A wild-type grape hyacinth from Turkey, Muscari azureum offers densely packed clusters of sky blue flowers. This species is fantastic for planting in beds and borders or forcing in containers for a dose of early spring color.
It grows about 4 inches tall and often self-seeds, naturalizing in the garden.
Muscari 'Valerie Finnis'
This exceptional variety discovered in England offers stunning ice-blue flowers that are mildly fragrant. The light blue color pairs well with most other grape hyacinth varieties, making it a perfect selection to mix in with other varieties.
Muscari 'Valerie Finnis' grows 8 inches tall.
Muscari 'Golden Fragrance'
Perhaps the most distinct of all grape hyacinths, Muscari 'Golden Fragrance' species offers golden-yellow flowers that have a violet cap at the top of the flower spike. There aren’t as many individual flowers per spike, but it makes up for it with its wonderful sweet scent. It grows 6 inches tall.
Note: Muscari 'Golden Fragrance' is not as hardy as other grape hyacinths; be sure to spread several inches of winter mulch over the soil if you wish to grow it in Zone 5.
Muscari 'Mount Hood'
A stunning partner to Muscari latifolium, Muscari aucheri 'Mount Hood' has the opposite effect: The cheery blue flower spikes are capped in white (like a snow-topped mountain), and the color goes from sky blue to rich violet-blue further down the stem. Muscari aucheri 'Mount Hood' grows 6 inches tall.
Muscari botryoides is so easy to grow that it's escaped gardens in some areas and spread into natural areas. Native to areas of Europe, it features bright purple-blue flowers in April or May and looks particularly effective when planted in large groups. It grows 8 inches tall.
Note: Because of its spreading tendency, it's best to select other varieties of Muscari for your garden.
A lovely, long-lived selection that offers pure white fragrant flowers, Muscari botryoides 'Album' looks good when paired with just about any other bulb. The individual flowers look almost like perfect pearls hanging off the central spike. It grows 8 inches tall.