Purple flower looks like grapes

Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinth produces clusters of small, bell-shaped, blue flowers.

Susan Mahr, UW Horticulture
Revised: 5/11/2010
Item number: XHT1177

What is grape hyacinth? Grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) is a mid-spring-blooming, perennial bulb in the lily family (Liliaceae) that is native to southeastern Europe. Grape hyacinth’s common name refers to the plant’s clusters of small, bell-shaped, cobalt-blue flowers (with narrow, white rims) that look like clusters of grapes. The scientific name Muscari comes from the Greek word for musk, and refers to the mildly sweet fragrance, variously described as slightly grassy or grapey, that is produced by the plant’s flowers.

What is grape hyacinth? Grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) is a mid-spring-blooming, perennial bulb in the lily family (Liliaceae) that is native to southeastern Europe. Grape hyacinth’s common name refers to the plant’s clusters of small, bell-shaped, cobalt-blue flowers (with narrow, white rims) that look like clusters of grapes. The scientific name Muscari comes from the Greek word for musk, and refers to the mildly sweet fragrance, variously described as slightly grassy or grapey, that is produced by the plant’s flowers.

Grape hyacinth grows four to eight inches tall, and produces floppy, narrow, green leaves that emerge from the ground in early spring. The leaves are soon followed by the plant’s flowers. Each bulb produces one to three flower stalks with 20 to 40 tightly packed flowers per stalk. Following flowering in early summer, the plant’s foliage dies back. However, unlike many other spring-blooming bulbs, grape hyacinth starts growing actively again in mid-fall and persists through the winter. Grape hyacinth is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9.

There are several varieties of M. armeniacum and M. botryoides, another early spring bloomer that is virtually indistinguishable in appearance from M. armeniacum.

•‘Album’ is white-flowered and fragrant, but not as vigorous as the standard type.
•‘Blue Spike’ is flax blue with double flowers, and blooms slightly later than the standard type.
•‘Fantasy Creation’ has double blue flowers that may develop green overtones as the flowers age.
•‘Saffier’ has sterile, blue flowers that are longer lasting than most varieties.
•‘Superstar’ has densely packed white-edged, periwinkle-blue florets, topped with a cap of paler florets.

In addition to M. armeniacum, there are about 40 other species of Muscari. Only a few of these are widely available as ornamentals however.

•M. azureum grows four to six inches tall and has bright blue flowers that open more widely than M. armeniacum. The variety M. azureum alba has white flowers.
•M. comosum or tassel hyacinth, is a somewhat rarer species that grows eight to 12 inches tall and blooms in late spring, producing flowers that are a purplish brown.
•M. latifolium is native to pine forests in Turkey and grows six to 12 inches tall. This variety produces only one leaf and in early spring produces bi-colored flowers, with pale blue florets on top and dark blue-black florets on the bottom. M. latifolium prefers cooler climates (USDA zones 2 though 5).
•M. plumosum (also commonly classified as M. comosum plumosum), or feather hyacinth, has sterile and threadlike, purple-blue flowers that create the appearance of a feathery plume.

Where do I get grape hyacinth? This ornamental is best initially established by planting bulbs that can be purchased at your local garden center. Select bulbs that are large, firm (not soft), and free of gashes and other blemishes. Avoid bulbs showing any signs of fungal growth (e.g., colorful masses of spores) on their surfaces. Once established, grape hyacinths readily naturalize, reproducing by division and self-seeding. Note that in some situations, grape hyacinths can become invasive.

How do I grow grape hyacinth? Plant grape hyacinth in the fall in well-drained soil. It tolerates both sunny and shady conditions. Plants in full sun tend to have better vigor, however, while those planted in partial shade tend to flower for a long period of time. When planting bulbs, place them three to four inches deep and two inches apart. Use bone meal at the time of planting, as well as after blooming, to improve grape hyacinth performance. Be sure that plants are well-watered during leaf growth and flower production, but reduce watering after the foliage begins to die back.
How do I use grape hyacinth most effectively in my garden? Grape hyacinths work well when they are planted in rock gardens, in the front of flowerbeds and borders, or along walkways and paths. They also mix well with other early blooming bulbs, and are a popular container plant. Grape hyacinths have their greatest impact when they are grown in masses and loose drifts. They are particularly attractive when allowed to naturalize under trees and shrubs. Because grape hyacinth tends to releaf in the fall, this plant can provide an attractive element to a garden in the fall and winter landscape if weather conditions are mild. In addition, grape hyacinth is an excellent cut flower and can be used for indoor forcing .

There is a famous planting of grape hyacinth at Keukenhof Gardens in The Netherlands known as the Blue River. This dense planting of M. armeniacum winds past trees, shrubs, and other spring flowers, giving the illusion of a flowing blue river. You can attempt to duplicate this effect in your own garden. However, such a planting requires a substantial number of bulbs and may be cost prohibitive.

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Grape hyacinths can be particularly attractive when used in mass plantings in flowerbeds with other spring-flowering bulbsGrape hyacinths can be particularly attractive when used in mass plantings with other spring-flowering bulbs or in containers
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WISTERIA

Twining, woody vines of great size, long life, and exceptional beauty in flower. So adaptable they can be grown as trees, shrubs, or vines. All have large, bright green leaves divided into many leaflets; spectacular clusters of blue, violet, pinkish, or white blossoms and velvety, pealike pods to about 6 inches long. Fall color in subdued shades of yellow. To get off to a good start, buy a cutting-grown, budded, or grafted wisteria; unnamed seedlings may not bloom for many years. If you start with budded or grafted plants, keep suckers removed for the first few years, or they may take over. Do not allow aggressive Asian species to grow on trees or escape into ornamental areas, as they will quickly smother the landscape. Also be wary of growing them near the house, as their muscular stems can tear apart structures. Wisterias resist damage by browsing deer.

silky wisteria

wisteria brachybotrys

  • Native to Japan.
  • Silky-haired, 8- to 14 inches-long leaves divided into 9 to 13 leaflets.
  • White, very large, long-stalked, highly fragrant flowers in short (4- to 6 inches.) clusters that open all at once during leaf-out.
  • Older plants (especially in tree form) have remarkably profuse bloom.
  • Shiro Kapitan (‘Alba’) is the most commonly sold form; it bears pure white (sometimes double) flowers with yellow markings.
  • Murasaki Kapitan (‘Violacea’), bears blue-violet flowers with white markings.
  • Okayama has faintly scented deep mauve blossoms.

japanese wisteria

wisteria floribunda

  • From Japan.
  • Leaves are 1216 inches long, divided into 15 to 19 leaflets.
  • Very fragrant, 112 feet clusters of violet or violet-blue flowers appear during leaf-out.
  • Clusters open gradually, starting from the base; this prolongs bloom season but makes for a less spectacular burst of color than that provided by Wisteria sinensis.
  • Many selections are sold in white; pink; and shades of blue, purple, and lavender, usually marked with yellow and white.
  • Macrobotrys (‘Longissima’, ‘Multijuga’) has long (112- to 4 feet) clusters of violet flowers.
  • Longissima Alba bears 2 feet clusters of white blossoms; ‘Ivory Tower’ is similar.
  • Rosea has lavender-pink blooms; ‘Violacea Plena’ sports very full clusters of double, deep violet-blue flowers.
  • Texas Purple blooms at an early age.

american wisteria

wisteria frutescens

  • Native from Virginia to Florida and Texas.
  • Leaves 712 inches long, divided into 9 to 15 leaflets.
  • Later blooming and less vigorous than Wisteria floribunda and Wisteria sinensis, with thinner stems; not destructive.
  • Mildly fragrant, pale lilac flowers with yellow blotch appear in dense, 4- to 6 inches-long clusters in late spring after leaf-out; blossoms look like grape clusters.
  • Amethyst Falls has vivid lilac-blue flowers.
  • White-flowered ‘Nivea’ blooms earlier than the species.

kentucky wisteria

wisteria macrostachya

  • Native from Illinois to Texas.
  • A good choice for smaller gardens.
  • Like Wisteria frutescens, blooms among new leaves in late spring, after the Asian species bloom.
  • Mildly fragrant flowers are light blue to violet or blue-purple, in 8- to 12 inches-long, fragrant, pendulous clusters.
  • Shiny leaves usually divided into nine leaflets, each to 3 inches long.
  • The 4 inches pods are smooth, sometimes twisted.
  • Less vigorous and better behaved than Asian species.
  • Not destructive.
  • Clara Mack has white flowers.
  • Bayou Two o Clock’ has blue-violet flowers held in long, pointed racemes.
  • Pondside Blue bears pale blue-violet blossoms.

chinese wisteria

wisteria sinensis

  • Native to China.
  • Leaves are 1012 inches long, divided into 7 to 13 leaflets.
  • Violet-blue, fragrant flowers appear before leaf-out; they come in shorter clusters (to 1 feet.) than those of Wisteria floribunda but make quite a show by opening all at once, nearly all along the cluster.
  • Alba has white flowers.
  • Cookes Special’ is a grafted form with blue-purple flowers to 20 inches long.
  • Blue-violet ‘Caroline’, probably a hybrid, blooms early and is highly fragrant.

Plants are not fussy about soil but need good drainage; in alkaline soil, watch for chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins) and treat with iron chelates or iron sulfate. Pruning and training are important for control of size and shape and for bloom production. Let newly planted wisteria grow to establish framework you desire, either single trunked or multitrunked. Remove stems that interfere with desired framework and pinch back side stems and long streamers. For single-trunked form, rub off buds that develop on trunk. For multiple trunks, select as many vigorous stems as you wish and let them develop; if plant has only one stem, pinch it back to encourage others to develop. The main stem will become a good-sized trunk, and the weight of a mature vine is considerable. Support structures should be sturdy and durable.

Tree wisterias can be bought already trained; or you can train your own. Remove all but one main stem and stake this one securely. Tie stem to stake at frequent intervals, using plastic tape to prevent girdling. When plant has reached height at which you wish head to form, pinch or prune out tip to force branching. Shorten branches to beef them up. Pinch back long streamers and rub off all buds that form below head.

In general, wisterias do not need fertilizer. Prune blooming plants every winter: Cut back or thin out side shoots from main or structural stems, and shorten back to two or three buds the flower-producing spurs that grow from these shoots. It’s easy to recognize fat flower buds on these spurs.

In summer, cut back long streamers before they tangle up in main body of vine; save those you want to use to extend height or length of vine and tie them to supporteaves, wall, trellis, arbor. If old plants grow rampantly but fail to bloom, withhold all nitrogen fertilizers for an entire growing season (buds for the next season’s bloom are started in early summer). If that fails to produce bloom the next year, you can try pruning roots in springafter you’re sure no flowers will be producedby cutting vertically with a spade into plant’s root zone.

Muscari armeniacum in bloom.

Grape hyacinth has long, linear leaves.

Grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) is a mid-spring blooming, perennial bulb in the Lily Family (Liliaceae) native to southeastern Europe. It is NOT a true hyacinth (genus Hyacinthus). The name of the genus, Muscari, comes from the Greek word for musk, referring to the scent produced by the flowers of many species in the genus. The common name comes from the resemblance of the clusters of the small, bell-shaped, cobalt-blue flowers to upside-down clusters of grapes. Grape hyacinth is hardy in zones 3-9.

Long, linear, floppy green leaves emerge from the ground in early spring and are soon followed by the flowers. The foliage dies back following flowering in the early summer, but unlike many other spring-blooming bulbs, it starts growing actively again in mid-fall and persists through mild winters.

Grape hyacinth blooms in early spring

A self-seeded grape hyacinth.

Each bulb produces one to three 4-8 inch high flower stalks with 20-40 tightly packed flowers per stalk. Each bell-shaped floret has a thin white band on the rim. Most have a mildly sweet fragrance variously described as slightly grassy or grapey. They are excellent as cut flowers and can be used for indoor forcing. The flowers open sequentially from the bottom up the inflorescence, with the lowest flowers withering as the top ones open. Pollinated flowers are followed by tripartite seed pods. They readily naturalize, reproducing by division and self-seeding, and may even become invasive in some situations.

Grape hyacinth produces 1-3 flower stalks per bulb (L), with 20-40 tightly packed florets (LC). Each bell-shaped floret has a white band on the rim (C). The flowers open from the bottom up the inflorescence (RC), and if pollinated are followed by tripartite seed pods (R).

Grape hyacinth combines well with other spring bulbs and low perennials.

A mass planting of Muscari.

Grape hyacinths are good for planting in rock gardens, in the front of beds and borders, or along walkways and paths. They mix well with other early blooming bulbs, and are a popular container plant. They look best in masses and loose drifts, and are particularly nice when allowed to naturalize under trees and shrubs.

There is a famous planting of grape hyacinth at Keukenhof Gardens in The Netherlands known as the Blue River. This dense planting of M. armeniacum winds past trees, shrubs, and other spring flowers, giving the illusion of a flowing blue river. You can try planting a large drift of grape hyacinth in your garden for a similar effect – but you’ll need a LOT of bulbs!

Displays of blue grape hyacinths, including the “Blue River” (RC) at Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands.

Grow grape hyacinth in well-drained soil in sun to shade. Place in full sun for maximum vigor. However, the flowers last longer in partial shade.

Plant the bulbs in the fall, placing bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep and 2 inches apart. The plants benefit from bone meal applied at planting and after blooming. Reduce watering after the foliage begins to die back.

Muscari ‘Album’.

There are several varieties of this species (or M. botryoides, another early spring bloomer that is virtually indistinguishable in appearance from M. armeniacum).

  • ‘Album’ – is a fragrant, white-flowered selection that is not as vigorous as the standard type.
  • ‘Blue Spike’ – has flax blue flowers with double florets on branched flower spikes.
  • ‘Carneum’ – has pinkish flowers.
  • ‘Cantab’ – has sky blue, slightly fragrant flowers and blooms slightly later than the standard type.

    Muscari ‘Superstar’.

  • ‘Fantasy Creation’ – has double blue flowers that may develop green overtones as the flowers age.
  • A lighter blue cultivar of grape hyacinth.

    ‘Saffier’ – has deep blue flowers that are longer lasting than most varieties because they are sterile.

  • ‘Superstar’ – has densely packed periwinkle-blue florets edged in white, topped with a cap of paler florets.

There are about 40 species of Muscari, but only a few are widely available.

  • M. azureum – has bright blue flowers that open more widely than M. armeniacum. This 4-6” tall species blooms in early spring. The variety M. azureum alba has white flowers.
  • M. comosum, or tassel hyacinth – blooms in late spring, with purplish brown flowers on 8-12” plants.
  • Muscari latifolium

    M. latifolium – this native of pine forests in Turkey produces a single leaf from each bulb. It blooms in early spring with bi-colored flowers clusters that have pale blue florets on top and are dark blue-black on the bottom. The 6-12” plants prefer cooler zones 2-5.

  • M. plumosum (also commonly classified as M. comosum plumosum) or feather hyacinth – has sterile and threadlike, purple-blue flowers that create the appearance of a feathery plume.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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Grape Hyacinth Control: How To Get Rid Of Grape Hyacinth Weeds

Grape hyacinths rise in early spring with sweet little clusters of purple and sometimes white flowers. They are prolific bloomers which naturalize easily and arrive year after year. The plants can get out of hand over time and removal is a process that requires persistence. Fear not. There is a method and a plan for removing grape hyacinths.

Grape Hyacinth Weeds

Grape hyacinth produces numerous seeds once the blooms are spent and bulbets are formed off the parent bulbs for future flowers. This allows grape hyacinth plants to spread rapidly and sometimes out of control. Grape hyacinth weeds infest untilled fields and garden beds alike and may rely upon sequential grape hyacinth control for complete removal.

Most grape hyacinth bulbs are planted on purpose with the intention of brightening up the front path or spring flower bed, but the ease with which this plant reproduces can make it a real nuisance in some instances and its invasive abilities are a threat to crop land.

Grape hyacinth control will necessitate the removal of seed heads before they produce viable seed and extraction of as many bulbs as possible. Because the plants are able to make many

tiny bulbs off the main one, it can be almost impossible to find them all in a season. Complete elimination may take years.

Grape Hyacinth Control

The first step to get rid of grape hyacinth is to remove seed scapes after the flower petals have fallen. Although it takes at least 4 years for the little seedlings to form flowers, the seeds will eventually restart the hyacinth take over.

Pull the leaves as well, as these are giving solar energy to turn to starch, which is then stored for the next year’s growth in the bulbs and bulbets. Normally, leaving the foliage until it has died back is recommended, but in this case, it is just adding fuel to the fire. You can also use a propane weed torch and burn off the greens. This method will require several years for complete success but eventually the plants will die.

Getting Rid of Grape Hyacinth Bulbs Manually

Removing grape hyacinths manually is a bit of a chore but works better than herbicide use. This is because the bulbs and bulbets have a waxy coating which helps protect them in winter, but also erects an effective barrier against chemicals. Dig at least 6 inches down and pull out as many of the bulbs as possible.

Removing grape hyacinths completely is a challenge because it is hard to spot every single bulb. If you want to be meticulous, allow the foliage to grow in spring and then follow each and every leaf to its bulb or bulbet source. That is a bit intense for most gardeners, so some follow up is usually necessary the following season and possibly even the next.

Chemical Warfare to Get Rid of Grape Hyacinth

A 20 percent horticultural vinegar applied to the leaves will kill the foliage, leaving the bulbs weak.

Another way to get rid of grape hyacinth is with weed killers. Spray at the rate recommended on the bottle on a windless, mild day. Be careful because this method of grape hyacinth control is non-specific and can kill other plants if the chemical spray gets on their leaves.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

How to Plant Muscari

AndrisL/iStock/Getty Images

Drifts of grape hyacinths (Muscari spp.) rising like mist from the soil can only mean spring is on the way. Although blue grape hyacinths are the most common, the plants also bloom in white, yellow, pink or purple. Suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 or 5 through 8 or 9, depending on variety, the dainty bulbs multiply with enthusiasm. Massed beneath deciduous trees, they flower before the trees’ leaves emerge spring. For the most impressive display, plant grape hyacinths where they have plenty of room to spread.

Planting Time and Temperature

As hardy bulbs, grape hyacinths need 14 or 15 weeks of temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit to flower. Plant them early enough in the fall to ensure they’ll get the required chilling period.

Early fall planting also gives the bulbs time to develop root systems before the soil freezes. Plant them four weeks before the temperature stops rising above 32 degrees in your area. After that, it’s too cold for the frozen soil to thaw during the day.

Choosing the Site

Plant grape hyacinth where it will receive four or more hours of daily sun. Choose a location with well-draining, averagely fertile soil where the bulb can spread without encroaching on other plants. Small bulbs such as grape hyacinths display most attractively in groups of 50 or more. Space them 3 to 4 inches apart.

Preparing the Soil

The biggest obstacle grape hyacinths face is poor drainage. To keep them happy, amend the planting site soil before planting with well-aged manure, compost or peat moss.

Cover every 10 square feet of the planting bed with 1 to 2 bushels — 25 to 50 pounds — of the amendment and work it into the top 8 inches of soil with a spade or tilling fork. Don’t skimp on the amendment; a generous amount keeps bulbs healthy for years.

Planting the Bulbs

If the soil is loam or clay, dig the planting holes with a trowel; if it’s sandy, use a specialized tool called a bulb dibble. Insert its pointed end 3 to 4 inches deep into the soil and work it back and forth to create a hole large enough for the bulb.

Before planting, sprinkle the base of each hole with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of 0-46-0 superphosphate fertilizer and scratch it into the soil so it won’t touch the bulbs. Phosphorous — the “P” in N-P-K fertilzer — promotes healthy roots.

Place a bulb with its pointed side up in each hole, leaving loose soil beneath it so its roots won’t struggle. Replace half of the removed soil and water the planting bed well to settle the bulbs and add the rest of the soil. Unless the fall is exceptionally dry, don’t water again before the soil freezes. Overwatering could lead to bulb rot.

Caring for Newly Planted Bulbs

To preserve soil moisture and prevent frost heaves from lifting the bulbs during winter, cover the planting bed with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch. Wood chips or pine bark make effective choices.

Grape hyacinth bulbs contain all the nutrients they need to sustain their first season of flowering.

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