Grape Hyacinth/Muscari Armeniacum
The Grape Hyacinth must be the easiest of all bulbs to grow. As a fully-hardy garden bulb, any used indoors must be dried off after use and planted in the garden, where they will usually recover and continue to give pleasure for many years to come. Use the Grape Hyacinth in the garden, in window-boxes for a mass of colour in early Spring, as a cut bloom or as a houseplant.
This Turkish bulb has long, narrow leaves, which first emerge in Autumn and then shrivel away in early Summer. Looking like tiny ‘pixie’ hats, the conical, fragrant flowers rise in miniature spires on leafless stems in Spring. Numerous cultivars of Muscari armeniacum have been developed, and flower colours of all shades of white, through the blues, to deepest violet are now available; close examination shows that each tiny floret has a nipped-in waist and a ripple of white around the edge.
This tough little bulb will last best indoors if the growing conditions are cool: central heating will finish it off very rapidly. Grow the Grape Hyacinth outside or in an unheated conservatory, bringing it indoors once the blooms have appeared; provide temperatures between a cool 4°C (40°F) and a maximum of 20°C (68°F) to obtain the best results.
Pot-grown plants can tolerate full sun, as long as it is not combined with hot temperatures: plants which are being grown-on (before flowering) need about four hours of bright light each day.
Water this plant carefully. Keeping thejust moist during the growing period. Take particular care if it is in a pot with no drainage holes. After flowering, gradually reduce the amount of water given and stop completely once the leaves wither and turn yellow. Plant the dry bulbs out into the garden.
The Grape Hyacinth is a plant that has no need for any additional humidity if given the cool growing conditions required.
Do not feed this plant: it will take what it needs from the potting compost in which it is growing.
Grow Muscari armeniacum in a free-draining blend of one part loam-based potting compost, one part coarse moss peat and one part sharp sand; plant new bulbs 7cm (3in) deep in early Autumn for flowering in Spring.
Look for specific cultivars r for a good colour range: – M. a. ‘Blue Spike’ is a compact, pale blue, double-flowered cultivar: M. a. ‘Cantab’ a single blue: M. a. ‘Heavenly Blue’ is a bright blue and very fragrant example.
Slugs may eat the bulbs and the foliage before the plants even begin to bud: eradicate these pests with a proprietary slug killer. Very hot conditions will cause flowers to die off very quickly.