How We Grow Muscari

Written by Hannah Miller. Reviewed and Fact Checked by Elizabeth Smith. Published to Spring Plants. Updated: 21st March 2024.

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Muscari, also known as Grape Hyacinth, is a popular mid-spring flowering plant grown from bulbs.

Expect grape-like, fragrant flowers in purple, blue and several other colours such as cream, white, pink and red.

Plant details:

  • Grown from bulbs, planted shallow in pots or deeper in beds.
  • I’ve seen them naturalise, multiply and rebloom year after year.
  • I use them at the front of borders, edges and in my pots.
  • Delightfully fragrant.
  • Bee and pollinator-friendly.
  • Like most spring bulbs, they are easy to care for and require no special treatment if located in a suitable spot.
  • Bell-shaped blooms.

Size

Height: Up to 25cm (10in)

Spread: Up to 10cm (4in) 

Location

Borders, edges, containers, rock gardens

Sunlight

Full sun or partial shade

Hardiness

Hardy perennial US zone 4-9 and all parts of the UK

Muscari - closeup in our garden

Closeup of Muscari in our garden

Muscari clusters

A cluster of Muscari in our garden

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Muscari

I asked qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith to answer questions about muscari:

How Do Muscari Plants Arrive?

While Muscari can be purchased as established pot plants, I usually buy the bulbs and grow them myself as it’s cheaper.

Where is the best place to plant muscari?

I’ve found that crocus plants thrive in full sun but will still perform well in partial shade.

I’ve had great results with them in pots and containers, at the front of flowerbeds/borders and in rockeries.

How hardy are muscari? Will they come back every year?

Muscari bulbs are hardy to US zones 4-9 and can be grown in all parts of the UK.

Like many spring bulbs, muscari will thrive when subjected to a cold winter, but I’ve seen them struggle after warm, mild and wet winters, something we seem to be getting more of.

In the UK, I’ve seen them naturalise, spread and rebloom year on year.

Does muscari require full or partial sunlight?

I have grown them successfully in full and partial sunlight.

What are suitable soil conditions for muscari?

As with most bulbs, free-draining soil is best to avoid bulb rot and diseases associated with wet, boggy ground conditions.

Try this recommended compost mixture for bulbs such as muscari grown in pots and containers.

My garden soil is often boggy, so I add grit, sand and even organic matter to loosen it up and improve drainage at the time of planting..

How and when should muscari bulbs be planted?

I plant muscari bulbs from mid-autumn up until the first harsh frost.

I plant them 8-10cm (3in to 4in) deep and space them around 5-8cm (2-3in) apart.

For a more natural look, you could grow them in clusters of 6+ bulbs, but for a formal appearance, dig a trench at the front of the border or flowerbed and grow in a neat line.

Are there any pests and diseases?

Muscari is very resistant to bugs, pests and diseases and I’ve never had any issues worth noting.

The squirrels in my garden do not dig up the bulbs either.

When do muscari flower and how long for?

My muscari plants bloom from early to mid-spring.

The exact time for you will depend on your location within the UK and environmental conditions, but late March, April and into May are months when muscari plants can usually be seen.

Are there any water and fertiliser requirements?

Muscari dislikes overly dry ground conditions, so may require some additional watering during drought.

I’ve never felt the need to fertilise muscari but my soil is nutrient rich anyway.

Is muscari toxic or harmful?

Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) is nontoxic for pets and for most people no skin irritation will occur. Muscari is often sold as a cut flower.

Read more: Is muscari toxic?

25 x Muscari Blue Grape Hyacinths - Cute Little Cobalt Blue Flowers - for Your Beautiful Garden
10 x Muscari latifolium Bulbs (Grape Hyacinth) Free UK Postage
25 x Muscari Blue Grape Hyacinths - Cute Little Cobalt Blue Flowers - for Your Beautiful Garden
10 x Muscari latifolium Bulbs (Grape Hyacinth) Free UK Postage
25 x Muscari Blue Grape Hyacinths - Cute Little Cobalt Blue Flowers - for Your Beautiful Garden
25 x Muscari Blue Grape Hyacinths - Cute Little Cobalt Blue Flowers - for Your Beautiful Garden
10 x Muscari latifolium Bulbs (Grape Hyacinth) Free UK Postage
10 x Muscari latifolium Bulbs (Grape Hyacinth) Free UK Postage

Caring For Muscari After Flowering

I’ve always found muscari to be a tough, hardy perennial, but as with most bulbs, follow these tips, so it comes back year after year:

  • After it’s finished blooming, trim back the flowering stem just under the lowest bloom, so energy isn’t wasted and is sent to the bulb instead.
  • Don’t tie the foliage or cut it back until it’s discoloured and withered.
  • There is no need to lift the bulbs unless you want to divide them to create new plants or to control the spread. Lift them in the summer when they’re dormant.
  • Don’t be concerned if muscari grows in Autumn, it’s normal for this plant to shoot up blades well before winter and spring.

Muscari Companion Plants

Through years of testing and experimenting, I’ve found that these six spring-flowering plants go well with muscari:

Alternatives

I have paired and replaced muscari with true hyacinths with success.

While muscari are often referred to as a “grape hyacinth” this is actually just a common name and hyacinths are completely different plants.

If you like muscari there’s a good chance you’ll like hyacinths as they grow to a similar height, have similar foliage and also bloom in the spring.

Explore our hyacinth growing guide here.

Advice From Daniel at DIY Gardening

Daniel, co-owner at DIY Gardening, added this:

Don’t forget that musacri bulbs can be grown in layers with larger bulbs of other species planted underneath them.

This technique is often used in containers where horizontal space is limited and ensures the container produces plants throughout the growing season without the gardener needing to remove the bulbs or dig in new plants.

Discover more about bulb layering on Sarah Raven’s site.

The best companion plants for muscari are listed above, but tulips and daffodils are my favourite popular pairings. Also, try placing muscari directly in front of a row of daffodils or tulips.

As standalone plants, grow them in pots or in borders/beds as clusters of 6+ bulbs.

Daniel Woodley

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This guide was reviewed and fact-checked by qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith.

Explore: Elizabeth's profile and qualifications.

Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a keen gardener who grows organic fruit and vegetables in her Surrey garden and is moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. 

She is also the proud grower of a dahlia and herb garden.

Hannah worked for the NHS for 12 years but also has a level 3 qualification in horticulture and is currently studying for her level 4.

More About Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller

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This muscari growing guide was published by DIY Gardening

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