Grape hyacinths

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In botany, the genus of grape hyacinths (Muscari) is assigned to the subfamily of Scilloideae, which belongs to the family of asparagus plants (Asparagaceae). Previously, the genus belonged to the family of lily family (Liliaceae), due to molecular genetic studies, the new assignment was made. The botanical genus name is derived from the Latin word "muscus", which means "musk". The name refers to the slightly strong odor that some species emit during flowering.

Grape hyacinths are mainly distributed in South and Southeastern Europe as well as North Africa and Southwest Asia. The vineyard grape hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), which was originally native to the Mediterranean to Pakistan and Afghanistan and probably served as a garden plant before the 16th century, has long been found at natural sites in Germany. It inhabits vineyards, forests, meadows and rocky locations. The Armenian grape hyacinth, originally native to the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and the Caucasus, was also successfully spread in some regions of Germany and is therefore considered a cultural refugee.

Appearance and growth

Grape hyacinths are herbaceous, perennial plants with small egg-shaped flower bulbs as a means of survival. They usually form two to seven fleshy, narrow leaves. The broadleaf grape hyacinth usually has only a single leaf. From each onion drives only a 15 to 25 centimeters high flower stem. At its end is a flowery grape. The hermaphroditic flowers of a grape open from bottom to top. The top ones are also smaller and sterile. Grape hyacinths bloom in different shades of blue, partly in two colors, and there are also white varieties. The large-flowered grape hyacinth (Muscari macrocarpum) flowers in yellow. Flowering time is between March and May. After fertilization capsule fruits form, which contain black, spherical seeds. After the seeds have matured, the above-ground parts of the plant die off and the grape hyacinths survive in the onion until the following spring. The small grape hyacinth, however, already drives new leaves in September, which overwinter green.

Location and ground

Grape hyacinths, like most bulbous flowers, prefer a sunny, warm location with loose, well-drained and not-too-moist soil.


Between October and November you put the small onions six to eight inches deep in the ground. The distance between the onions should be eight to ten centimeters. For heavy, loamy soils, you should work in plenty of sand and humus before planting, so that they are more permeable, otherwise the grape hyacinths are not very durable here.

care Tips

Grape hyacinths are very undemanding and easy to care for. In spring, when the bulbs are sprouting, fertilization is possible, for example with compost. If the plants do not want to segregate, one cuts off the withering inflorescences before the seed matures. The leaves are allowed to turn yellow before being removed. It is important that the soil is not too humid during the dormancy in the summer. Grape hyacinths thrive best if, once planted, they can develop undisturbed for years.


Grape hyacinths are most beautifully planted in larger groups. They can be combined in the sunny bed or under deciduous trees well with other bulb flowers, for example, with early-flowering botanical tulip species such as the water lily tulip (Tulipa kaufmanniana) and small-flowered daffodils. They also go well with spring shrubs such as Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly Dicentra spectabils), G├Ąmswurz (Doronicum caucasicum) and Horn Violet (Viola cornuta).
As grape hyacinths grow strongly by self-sowing and daughter onions, they are very good for Verwildern. The plants also feel good in the rock garden. In addition, they are a popular spring planting for pots and boxes, mostly in combination with other annual spring flowering plants like the belladonna (Bellis).

Important species and varieties

A distinction is made in the grape hyacinth, which is also known under the name Perlhyazinthe, about 60 species, of which only about ten species and hybrids and their varieties are cultivated in our gardens. The most famous is the Armenian grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum), other important species for the garden culture are the sky blue grape hyacinth (Muscari azureum), the small grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides) and the broadleaf grape hyacinth (Muscari latifolium).

Small grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides)

Small grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides)


Grape hyacinths form daughter onions, which can be separated in the summer from the mother onion and replant. Also over seeds one can multiply the plants.Since grape hyacinths are among the cold germs, the applied seeds require temperatures around the freezing point for several days to germinate. The young plants only blossom after several years of development. Since grape hyacinths quickly grow in abundance at sites they prefer, it is easiest to cut out pieces of plant carpet right after flowering and plant them elsewhere.

Diseases and pests

Grape hyacinths are robust, so diseases and pests do not play a big role. Eating damage by nudibranchs are also rare. If the location is too humid or the plants are too dense, they can get burnt mushrooms, recognizable by the black or white spots. The infested plant parts are then completely removed and disposed of with household waste.

Video Board: Grape Hyacinth Planting and Care Tips Video.

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