By: Liz Baessler
Grape hyacinths are a beautiful addition to any garden. Though not actually a hyacinth (they’re a type of lily), they bloom in delicate, hyacinth-blue clusters of blossoms that resemble bunches of grapes. They give off a delicious fragrance and add an unmistakable touch of spring to your garden or kitchen counter. If you want to start growing grape hyacinth, or want to expand your collection, propagating grape hyacinths is very easy. Keep reading to learn about propagation from grape hyacinth bulbs and grape hyacinth seeds.
Propagating grape hyacinths is so easy, it may not take any effort at all. You can propagate Muscari grape hyacinth from either seeds or bulbs.
Grape Hyacinth Seeds
When your grape hyacinth is done blooming, it will drop its seeds. By the spring, with any luck, these grape hyacinth seeds will have become their own plants. If not, you can propagate Muscari grape hyacinth by saving the seeds.
Remove the dried seedpods from the plant, harvest the small seeds inside, and lay the seeds on a damp paper towel in a not quite sealed plastic bag. Place it in the refrigerator for a few months to allow them to sprout.
You can then plant the seedlings in containers until large enough for the garden. Likewise, you can sow the seeds directly in the garden.
Be aware, though – grape hyacinths reproduce very easily and quickly, meaning they could spread all over your garden (and yard) if you don’t pay attention to them. Try planting them near a brick or concrete walkway to create a border they’re less likely to cross naturally.
Grape Hyacinth Bulbs
If planting the seeds is not for you or if you simply want to transplant some grape hyacinths to another part of the garden, you can also propagate your grape hyacinth bulbs.
Dig up a cluster of plants and carefully separate the bulbs underneath. They should actually come apart rather easily and there will likely be lots of offset bulbs to pick through. Choose the healthiest.
Plant them where you wish, and they should start spreading from their new spots, giving even more of the pretty little plants next season.
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Propagating a Hyacinth
A hyacinth is a bulbous plant known for its vibrant colors and fragrant flowers. It can be easily propagated using simple methods and tools. The only drawback is the fact that this plant can take years before its flowers can bloom. Nevertheless, horticulturists recommend hyacinth for would-be gardeners to practice on.
Being a bulbous plant, the hyacinth can be propagated either by using its seeds, which generally have excellent viability, or by growing the offset bulbs produced near the basal plate of each plant.
Growing Hyacinths by Seed Propagating
Propagating this plant using its seeds is easy. In fact, this method is more favored by enthusiasts and gardeners compared to using offset bulbs. Aside from the fact that all hyacinth varieties can be grown by sowing seeds, this method of propagation has been proven to ensure that the resulting hyacinth plants are true to their type. Make sure that you only use seeds that have ripened.
Once you have the seeds, spread them in large gardening trays filled with soil compost. Cover the sown seeds with washed gardening grit. After watering the seeds, put the planting trays in a cool greenhouse or any cold place, where you will leave them undisturbed for one year. After their first year, the young hyacinth seedlings can be transplanted into pots or garden beds. This time, you have to wait for another two to three years for your hyacinth plants to flower.
Growing hyacinth by seed propagation, while easy to do, is not recommended for developing hybrid or better varieties of the plant. If you want to develop better cultivars without waiting for years, it is best to propagate hyacinth plants by using their offset bulbs.
Cultivating Hyacinths Via Offset Bulbs
As your hyacinth plant grows, you will notice that younger offset bulbs develop at the base of the plant’s main bulb. You can actually use these younger bulbs not just for the propagation of the plant, but for developing new cultivars that can produce fancy flowers later on. You will need a good number of offset bulbs to effectively cultivate hyacinths. For this, you can use a technique called scoring to tremendously enhance the growth of offset bulbs in a hyacinth plant.
To score the main bulb in a hyacinth plant, make two to four cuts through the basal plate. Within approximately three months, new offset bulbs will develop around the area where the cuts were made. These new bulbs can now be used to propagate new hyacinth plants.
One technique you can use involves re-planting the parent bulb along with the new bulbs into a deeper pan. Just allow the offset bulbs to mature for a few weeks. When replanting, make sure that the younger offset bulbs are covered by thin layer of compost. In a few months, the new bulbs will sprout and grow while the parent bulb slowly decays, leaving you with several younger hyacinth plants.
How to Propagate a Hyacinth
A hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) grows from a bulb called a tunicate bulb. This means the outside leaves dry and form a "tunic" around the bulb to protect it. Although tunicate bulbs sometimes form tiny bulblets around the base of the bulb that can be removed and planted to propagate new plants, this isn't typically the case for hyacinth bulbs. The formation of new bulblets around the base of a hyacinth bulb requires some help from you.
Turn the hyacinth bulb over to expose the basal plate, which is where the roots grow.
Scoop out the inside of the basal plate of the hyacinth bulb with a sharp knife. This removes the flower bud inside the bulb and exposes the base of the leaves covering the bulb.
Dip the entire bulb in fungicide to prevent the scooped surface from fungal infections while the bulb dries.
Place the bulb in a box or bag filled with slightly moist sphagnum peat moss and place in a warm, dark location for two weeks. Maintain the temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit to heal the cut surfaces.
Increase the temperature to 85 degrees and maintain relative humidity of 85 percent until bulblets form around the outside of the bulb. According to the ACES Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Department, each bulb will form an average of 60 new bulblets.
Plant the entire bulb in prepared soil when the bulblets develop shoots. Position the scooped bulb in the soil so that the top of the bulb rests 1 inch below the surface of the soil. The tiny bulblets will produce foliage for the first year.
Dig the bulb when the foliage yellows and dies. Separate the bulblets from the mother bulb and plant them individually in prepared soil to a depth of two to three times the diameter of the bulb. It may take up to five years before the plants bloom.
Caring for grape hyacinth
Grape hyacinths are bulb flowers that don’t require any specific care.
For grape hyacinths grown in pots, remember to water as soon as the surface soil is dry.
The following best practices will help you have beautiful sustained blooming over the years.
- Cut the leaves back only when they have turned yellow.
- Divide the bulbs every 3 or 4 years to regenerate the grape hyacinths.
- Soil conditioner added in fall will make blooms denser and more abundant.
Caring for Muscari Plants
It is fairly easy to look after Grape Hyacinth and other Muscari plants, they should be watered in dry periods, and mulched with manure every autumn.
It is best to divide the plants every four years to maintain vigorous growth. If you require more Muscari then they can be propagated by dividing the bulblets in the summer time.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Muscari plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Veltheimia and Yucca aloifolia plants.
Grape Hyacinth Muscari
- Type Flowering bulb
- Life Span Perennial
- Growing Zones 4-9
- Light Sun or light shade
- Water Well-drained soil
- When to Plant Autumn
- Design Tip Edge a pathway
- Companions Narcissus, primrose
- Peak Season April
Grape Hyacinth: A Field Guide
With a striking resemblance to budding hyacinths—in miniature—grape hyacinths are not hyacinths at all, but wildflowers that come from the rocky terrain of southern Europe and Asia.
Blooming from early to mid-spring, varieties of Muscari flower in a rainbow of blues and will spread and dominate in a flower bed. Better locations: planted in a dappled woodland, edging a path, or in a tight clump in a planter. Some of our favorite varieties of Muscari are tufty M. latifolium calm pale blue M. armeniacum ‘Valerie Finnis’, and white-flowering M. ‘White Magic’.
Alys Fowler: how to tame the grape hyacinth
Grape hyacinth: 'It's my spring-welcoming gift to bees.' Photograph: Alamy
Grape hyacinth: 'It's my spring-welcoming gift to bees.' Photograph: Alamy
Last modified on Fri 1 Dec 2017 17.29 GMT
I t seems obligatory to complain about grape hyacinth leaves. They are too many, apparently, and they persist for too long. This is certainly true of some species of muscari. The leaves can become a great tangle of green – luxuriant, but messy, swamping things around them.
Still, this is an issue only if you plant in the wrong place. Too much rich garden soil and you’ll get more leaf and less flower assign them to short grass below trees and shrubs, or in thin, stony ground, and you’ll get a pool of blue as deep as the ocean. The trick is being a little mean with fertility and offering some shade come summer. Plant them now, scattering the bulbs in large, informal groups, and get them down deep – 10cm or so, 5cm apart.
I naturalised a swath of the Armenian grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) in the grass around my beehive. It’s my spring-welcoming gift to the bees. You don’t notice the leaves hidden in grass, and as long as the short grass is not mowed too frequently, they will survive. They also work well as ground cover under deciduous trees, making an impenetrable mat that keeps weeds at bay. Another one for short grass is the common grape hyacinth, M. neglectum a darker purple, almost black, and it will self-seed even in grass (don’t put it in a bed in a small garden, as it will take over).
There are some rarer muscari worth looking out for. M. azureum has pale blue flowers with dark strips running down the centre of each petal. It hates being hot in summer and looks terrible if grown on bare soil in spring, when rain will splatter it with soil. M. latifolium is more refined. The flower spike is a dark purple, crowned with a bright blue topknot. It can be given pride of place in the garden as it won’t take over.
However, the muscari I love most is M. comosum, the tassel hyacinth, which grows in woodland scrub in Italy and Greece (it’s recently had a name change to Leopoldia comosa, but I’m in denial). The top flowers look like tassels and the bottom flowers are a muddy purple. The bulbs are edible, known as lampascioni, and are eaten mostly in southern Italy. They are a pain to process, full of bitter mucus, but find someone who knows how to cook them and there’s an unusual Mediterranean treat to be had. They are usually served in oil and vinegar, and taste like a strange, bitter pickled onion. They are addictively good. The only place I’ve found selling bulbs to grow (not to eat, be wary of pesticides) is eBay. You’ll find plenty of M. comosum ‘Plumosum’, but it’s ugly and the flowers are sterile, which is no good for the bees.
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