Did You Know?
LAMPASCIONI, a traditional food from Puglia in southern Italy, is made of Muscari comosum bulbs.
These plants are perfect for flower beds, rock gardens, woodland gardens, borders, and as under-plantings. Most of the muscari species produce flowers in shades of blue, but white muscari hybrids are also very popular. In some species, the flowers on the upper part of the spike have a different shape and color.
Muscari plants belong to the genus Muscari, subfamily Scilloideae and family Asparagaceae. There are around 40 species in this genus, and many of them are grown for ornamental purposes. The most popular among them is Muscari armeniacum that produces dark blue flowers with white fringes.
The plant has numerous cultivars that produce flowers in colors like light blue, pale pink, etc. Members of the genus Leopoldia and Pseudomuscari are also referred to as muscari plants, as they were earlier classified under the genus Muscari.
Other popular species include the broad-leaved Muscari latifolium, Muscari Azureum with azure-blue flowers, Muscari latifolium with two-tone flowers, Muscari Valerie Finnis with ice-blue flowers, etc.
Popular Muscari Species
Nowadays, cultivars of this plant are available in different shades of blue. There are some hybrids in white and pink too. Some of these plants produce scented flowers.
Muscari armeniacum 'Album' has white flowers. Muscari armeniacum 'Lady Blue' is a cultivar with silvery-gray flowers. Muscari Valerie Finnis is another variety with ice-blue flowers and a mild fragrance. The plant is named after a famous British gardener and photographer Valerie Finnis, who discovered the plant in her garden.
Muscari aucheri has broad leaves and grows to a height of around ten inches. Each plant has around three to four leaves, but the spike is densely arranged. The flowers on the lower part come in darker shades of blue and those on the top are too pale or white.
Muscari latifolium is also broad-leaved, and each plant produces one or two leaves. The maximum height of this plant is 15 inches, but some may grow taller. The flowers on the lower side of the spike are dark purple and those on the upper parts are pale violet or blue. The flowers are slightly oblong or tubular in shape.
Muscari neglectum is also an invasive plant with dark purple flowers. The flowers are so dark that they look almost black. The crown of the spike has some sterile flowers that are lighter in color. As in many other muscari species, the flowers have white tips.
Muscari comosum is otherwise known as Leopoldia comosa, and is presently classified under the genus Leopoldia. The plant is also known as tassel hyacinth, hairy muscari, edible muscari, tufted grape hyacinth, etc.
The flowers have stalks, and those on the top are bright violet. The fertile flowers on the lower parts are darker and bell-shaped. This plant may also turn invasive.
Muscari azureum is a small plant with one or two leaves and a dense spike with bell-shaped flowers. The plant belongs to the genus Pseudomuscari, but was earlier classified under the genus Muscari. So, it is widely known as a muscari plant. The flowers are sky blue in color, and each flower has dark stripes that run through the center of the segments.
How to Grow Muscari Plants
You can grow them outdoors, directly in the soil or in containers. Muscari plants can be grown indoors too. Given further are some tips for growing muscari plants successfully.
- Choose a location with well-drained, moist, and alkaline soil. Soggy soil is not good for these plants.
- If the soil tends to get soggy, you can add some organic material and make it fit for growing muscari plants. For this purpose, you may use compost, peat moss, or decomposed manure.
- Though they can tolerate full sun, partial shade is preferred for a healthy growth.
- Before planting, prepare the soil by removing the weeds and stones. You may also loosen the surface of the soil.
- Dig holes and place the bulbs with their flat sides facing down. The depth of the holes must be three times the length of the bulbs.
- The holes must have a distance of at least four inches from one another. It is always better to plant muscari in groups.
- Cover the bulbs with loose soil. Once done, water the area thoroughly, till the soil gets soaked. You may also spread a thin layer of mulch over the soil, so as to retain moisture. Though fertilizers are not necessary, you may apply an all-purpose fertilizer during spring, before flowering.
- Once the blooms die, these plants produce seed pods. They can be removed after the blooms perish, but retain the foliage.
- You may remove the leaves of muscari plants during the onset of summer, when the plants become dormant. Once in every three years, divide the bulbs and transplant them during late summer or autumn.
- You may grow muscari plants in pots with a good drainage. Use well-drained, fertile soil to fill the pots. Plant the bulbs in holes that are two to three inches deep. Water thoroughly and place them on a location with partial sun.
- In case of regions with very cold winters, shift the pots to a cool location, where there is no danger of frost. Once the temperature starts to rise, you can transfer the pots to a location with partial sun.
So, make use of these tips and grow muscari plants. As mentioned here, try planting them in different styles. Combine them with other small flowering plants for a colorful visual treat. When it comes to the toxicity of muscari plants, reports are contradictory. So, it is better to avoid ingestion of any part of these plants.