Grape hyacinths paint the spring landscape in stunning shades of blue, purple, white, or yellow and offer up a sweet scent of grape bubblegum as well. These easy-care bulbs are frequently mass-planted to create a river effect in borders. Their tranquil look makes a great low background to the taller blooms of tulips. These undemanding small bulbs spread easily in any well-drained garden soil.
Sweet, Easy-to-Grow Bulbs
Year after year, you can count on grape hyacinths to unfurl welcome wands of purple, blue, white, or yellow flowers shortly after the snow melts. One of the easiest bulbs to grow, grape hyacinths return for decades, needing to be divided only every 3 to 5 years. Heirloom varieties of these 4- to 8-inch-tall flowers thrive near abandoned homesteads, sending up new flowers each spring without any help from a gardener. Keep in mind that grape hyacinths spread quickly and can get invasive if not planted in the right area.
Explore the many colors of grape hyacinth, including two-toned Muscari latifolium and the sky-blue flower spikes of 'Valerie Finnis'. You'll have a hard time choosing just one variety of this spring bloomer! These tiny bulbs are inexpensive and easy to plant, so there is no need to limit your selection to just one variety. Plant three to five varieties for a vibrant display.
Great Spring Plant Partners
Considered jewels of early spring, grape hyacinths thrive in cool weather. Grape hyacinths stand just 4-12 inches tall and make a wonderful groundcover or colorful carpet below lofty spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. When used as a groundcover, they help suppress early spring weeds.
When pairing grape hyacinths with daffodils, be sure to select early-blooming daffodil varieties, such as 'Golden Ducat' and 'Mary Copeland'. The same is true for tulips. Great tulip planting companions include 'Viridiflora', 'Triumph', 'Greigii', and 'Parrot King'.
Grape hyacinths are most striking when planted in large drifts. A cluster of 50 to 100 bulbs near the front of a border will add a punch of color. After blooms fade, the plant's strappy green foliage adds color and texture to the garden for several weeks. The foliage can be removed in early summer after it begins to turn yellow.
Don't let the large numbers fool you—planting grape hyacinths is a cinch. Plant these tiny bulbs (most grape hyacinth bulbs are the size of a blueberry) in groups of at least 50. Ribbon- or river-like plantings of 200 to 500 are especially eye-catching. A general guideline is to plant 20-25 grape hyacinth bulbs per square foot.
Grape hyacinths are planted in the fall. Thanks to their small size, they need to be planted just 3 to 4 inches deep. Simply dig a shallow trench, arrange the bulbs so they are about one inch apart, and cover with garden soil. Water bulbs well after planting and cover the planting spot with a 2-inch layer of mulch, if desired.
More Varieties of Grape Hyacinth
Muscari armeniacum bears small spikes packed with tiny blue bell-shape flowers, sometimes tinged purple, that rise from narrow foliage in mid-spring. It grows 6 inches tall. Zones 4-9
Muscari azureum offers layers of open sky-blue flowers below clustered pale-blue buds, giving a tiered, two-tone effect to the bloom spikes. It blooms in early to mid-spring and grows 6 inches tall. Zones 4-9
'Blue Spike' grape hyacinth
Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike' is a selection in which each flower protrudes from the spike for a bristly, double-flower effect. This variety grows 8 inches tall. Zones 4-8
White grape hyacinth
Muscari botryites album is an all-white form with spikes of pearly flowers on a long stem that are good for cutting. It grows 6 inches tall. Zones 4-8
Muscari latifolium is distinguished by the single broad leaf wrapped around the tall stem. The flower spike is a two-tone mixture of open lavender bells above tight blue buds. The plant grows 6 inches tall. Zones 4-9
'Valerie Finnis' grape hyacinth
Muscari 'Valerie Finnis' bears turquoise clusters of flower bells rimmed in a paler blue. It grows 6 inches tall. Zones 4-8