By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Winter doldrums are quickly banished by the appearance of the first grape hyacinth. While not as early blooming as crocus, these charismatic little bell flowers put on a hopeful show as sunlight makes a return appearance and spring bursts to life. Grape hyacinth seed propagation is not as easy or quick as growing the plants from mature bulbs but it is an inexpensive way to further expand your stock of these appealing flowers.
You would have to look far to find grape hyacinth flower seeds because the bulbs are generally sold for faster color displays in the garden. All you really need for Muscari seed planting is a spent crop of the plants in your landscape or your neighbor’s lot. Harvest the seeds from finished flowers that have dried on the plant and sow them after a chilling period.
It takes several years for the seeds of Muscari to mature enough to produce flowers. Due to this lengthy wait, most of us simply purchase grape hyacinth bulbs and install them in fall for spring blooms. Patient gardeners can save a buck by procuring grape hyacinth seed pods and removing the three seeds produced by each flower.
The ripe pods will swell once the seed is ripe and split open and it is an easy project to squeeze them out. Once sown, plants will result but they won’t bloom for 2 to 3 years. The delicate strappy foliage will still provide coverage for exposed soil areas and support moisture retention and weed suppression. In time, you will have a carpet of the tiny purple clustered flowers.
There are two ways to plant grape hyacinth seeds. You can start them indoors or plant them outside in a cold frame. If you are starting plants outside and using nature to provide the required chilling period, fall is when to plant grape hyacinth seeds.
Muscari seed planting that takes place indoors can commence at any time after you have chilled the seeds in the refrigerator for at least three months. This mimics the natural chilling period the seeds would have received over winter.
Grape hyacinth freely reseeds itself, so some gardeners clip off the dead flowers immediately to prevent spreading plants. Avail yourself of this tendency amongst your friends and family and try growing your own grape hyacinth flower seeds.
After you have taken the seed from grape hyacinth seed pods, you can plant them immediately in cold frames outside. Use well-draining soil in small pots or flats. Sow seeds on the surface of the planting medium with just a light scatter of soil to hold seed in place. Water lightly. Keep the soil moderately moist but not soggy, watering sparingly in winter.
Open the lid of cold frames in spring and let the little plants acclimate to outside conditions. You can continue to grow them in the cold frame or transplant them carefully the next spring. Start seeds indoors in flats after chilling in late winter to early spring. Cover the flat with a clear lid until you see the little sprouts, generally in 6 to 8 weeks. Remove the cover and keep plants lightly moist in a brightly lit area.
Transplant them after hardening off when they are a year old and soil is workable. In another year, you should see the vividly colored, tiny bluebells carpeting your garden beds.
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Read more about Grape Hyacinth
Grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.) dependably produces annual spikes of tight blue-purple flowers that resemble a bunch of grapes. The plants can thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 11 depending on the variety. M. armeniacum requires a winter freezing period to bloom, but M. paradoxum and M. aucheri types require minimal winter chilling and are able to withstand both cold and warm climates. Grape hyacinths grow from small bulbs that require minimal care and planting and can continue to thrive with little maintenance. Plant the bulbs in fall six weeks before your first expected frost to enjoy spring blooms.
These pretty blue ornamental lilies are amazingly easy to grow.
Grape hyacinths get their name from the tightly bundled florets that look like grapes at the tip of each flower.
There are many different types of hyacinths, but grape hyacinths aren’t related to them.
They have the grape clusters and they have a sweet-smelling aroma that’s especially prominent at night and during the early morning.
Each plant grows up to 12” and there are 1-3 stalks per plant. They sprout in early spring and usually result in colors that are blue and white.
Some hyacinths may also sprout orange, yellow, pink, and mauve florist.
These can be grown in hardiness zones 3-9 and are super easy to grow.
They’re a good plant for beginners that want to propagate from bulb or seed. If you don’t do anything but the bare minimum, they’ll likely reproduce so quickly you’ll need to prune them to keep them tidy.
These pretty grape-like plants are a stunning addition to any garden with their blue clusters and fragrance.
|Plant type||Ornamental flowering bulb|
|Days to maturity||2 years (bulb), 4 years (seed)|
|How much water?||Moderate|
|What color blooms?||Blue, purple, white, yellow, green, pink|
Easy to grow and establish. Plant bulbs when they are available in the autumn. Set them 3in (7.5cm) deep and 3-4in (7.5-10cm) apart, in groups or drifts.
The grape hyacinth is a vigorous grower that spreads well once established. Ideal for rock gardens, border edges, containers and naturalizing in lawns (short grass).
Some species (such as M. armeniacum) can quickly become invasive if growing conditions are good.
Muscari make excellent long-lasting cut flowers when picked for the vase.
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Most times, orders having items with different shipping schedules are held in full until the entire order is ready to ship based on your grow zone.
Plants will be shipped at the proper planting time for your area of the country using the shipping timeframes outlined below. We continually monitor weather conditions for extreme hot or cold and adjust shipping schedules as needed. Due to hot weather conditions, we are unable to ship most plant items in July and August.
|2020 Fall Shipping Schedule|
|ZONE||Perennials, Bulbs & Flowers|
|1A-4B||9/9 - 10/30|
|5A & 5B||9/9 - 10/30|
|6A & 6B||9/9 - 10/30|
|7A & 7B||9/9 - 10/30|
|8A & 8B||9/9 - 10/30|
|9A-10B||9/9 - 10/30|
|Last Order Date||All Grow Zones: Oct 26, 2020|
The type of product you order or the weather in our area to yours may affect the anticipated shipping schedule, shifting earlier or later, depending.
Trees and shrubs are kept in the nursery row until full dormant for optimum stress protection.
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Easy to grow, low maintenance, and hardy, these cheery flowers are perfect for plant-and-forget convenience.
Completely reliable, they never fail to add a gorgeous pop of color to the early spring garden. And you’ll love the way clumps multiply, adding more blooms every year!
Do you folks have a favorite Muscari species or cultivar to recommend? Drop us a line in the comments below.
And be sure to check out some of our other spring flower favorites – here are a few that might interest you:
Photos by Lorna Kring © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee, Eden Brothers, and Home Depot. Originally published on February 15, 2020. Last updated: March 25, 2021 at 0:22 am. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!