Squill announces a new garden season with bursts of dark green grasslike foliage. The leaves seem to emerge overnight in early spring. The tufts of foliage are quickly followed by arching flower stalks that support one to three nodding blue or white flowers. These tiny blossoms decorate the garden for two to three weeks and, when planted in large masses, they can be enjoyed from a distance. A welcome early-season nectar source for bees and insects, squill—also called Siberian squill—attracts winged visitors with its sweet fragrance.
|genus name|| |
Wonderful bulbs for naturalizing, squill are often planted in lawn grass or meadows where they bejewel the turf in early spring. Squill spread slowly by seeds and bulb offshoots to form a carpet of color. Care for a squill planting by delaying the first mowing of the season until the foliage begins to turn yellow and wither. After plants bloom the foliage directs energy into the bulb for the following season; it's important to leave the foliage standing until it begins to show signs of dormancy. For the first mowing, set the mowing height to at least 4 inches to limit the damage to squill leaves that have not yet reached dormancy.
Squill grows well in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. Squill thrive in the dappled shade of deciduous trees and shrubs and around the base of perennials because they complete their life cycle before the larger plants leaf out and limit their sunlight.
Squill, like most spring bulbs, are planted in fall as soon as the soil cools. Plant squill bulbs with the pointed growing tip facing upward. Plant bulbs 2 to 4 inches deep and 2 to 4 inches apart. Water bulbs after planting and again in late fall. In the garden, squill is most eye-pleasing when planted in drifts of no fewer than 100 bulbs—aim for 20 bulbs per square foot. Plant bulbs along walkways, interspersed with perennials, and in herb or rock gardens. Deer and rodents rarely eat squill.
More Varieties of Squill
Unlike most squill that have only a couple of flowers per stalk, Scilla peruviana has a large, round cluster of flowers on top of 6- to 12-inch-tall stems. The deep blue flowers last for several weeks. Zones 7-10