Scilla Bulbs - How to Grow and Care.
Of the Scillas, Scilla sibirica is probably the most
common - and admired! There are others outlined below which will
Blue is the predominant colour of the flowers of the Scilla
bulbs, but there are also a few whites and a pink worth growing.
All Scillas are spring flowering - March being the start,
though sometimes earlier. The image below was taken on March
15th. The flowers are well advanced on this, so safe to assume
some initial colour in first week of March.
is nothing quite like the vivid blue flowers of Scilla sibirica, even
though sometimes you will have to go hunting for it - being just a few
inches tall - 4-6in in a good season!
The Scillas generally, are well suited to being naturalised in drifts
below trees, in woodland or even in grass - providing you do not rush
about with the lawnmower until all of the foliage had died off.
a great choice for following on from the snowdrops naturalised in such
positions - and sometimes, it is possible to have the later snowdrops
and earlier Scillas at the same time. I have yet to see that, but I am
sure that it is possible, for I have photographed both on the same day -
although in different parts of the garden.
All Scilla bulbs are available as dormant bulbs in early Autumn and
should be planted as soon as possible. They are also available as pots
of flowering plants - the nurseryman well aware of how valuable they are
at an otherwise dreary time of year - for weather and cashflow!
Scillas are the same family as Hyacinths - Hyacinthaceae - and the
individual flowers are akin to the florets on the Hyacinth spikes.
Planting and Looking After Scilla Bulbs.
Scilla bulbs are small, but should nevertheless be planted at a depth
of around 4in deep. Plant the bulbs in early autumn - and potted
flowering plants in Spring. They can be planted in most soils that are
well drained. The dormant bulbs in summer, do not like to be in
permanently wet ground.
Scilla sibirica and others are suited to rockery positions,
or different areas such as woodland or under shrubs. If in woodland,
then in areas where there is not too dense a carpet of leaf littler from
the autumn leaf fall. If naturalised in lawns, best in areas where they
can be left to die down naturally before mowing that particular area.
They mingle well with other early bulbs, but the vivid blue deserves
its own drift - spectacular!
Squirrels tend to go hunting round for newly planted bulbs - as do
field mice (so sadly declining). Throw a roll of chicken wire over
the area and remove in the spring to deter squirrels.
Scillas are easy to look after - the least done, the better they seem
to do. Naturalised drifts rarely need to be divided - just leave them -
unless you want to rob the drifts of bulbs for other areas.
Scillas in Pots and Containers.
A window box full of Scillas is something to look forward to in early
spring - or probably late winter if the window box is on a sunny/warm
windowsill. They are also good for planting in hanging baskets - around
the rim with Scilla sibirica for the flowers hang their heads. Patio
containers - either full of Scillas or mingled art the edge of crocus
and the like, make for a bright few weeks in the early part of the year.
Might even tempt you out in the garden or on the patio to admire them.
No scent worth talking of.
Plant up a few pots to be bought indoors for the winter. Leave
outdoors until first green starts to pop through, and then enjoy the
emerging flowers indoors.
Propagation of Scillas.
Growing Scillas from seed is easy - but takes a few years to get into
flower. Sow harvested seed as soon as ripe - place in cold frame or cold
greenhouse. Too much heat will delay germination of Scilla seeds. They
will show through in around 6-8 weeks.
Digging up and then division of the bulbs after - take off the
offsets - in autumn is the quicker way to amass another belt of vivid
blue. Plant in their flowering positions - but expect to wait a further
year before any flowers of consequence are seen.
Types of Scilla Bulbs.
Scilla hyacinthoides is often touted as the tallest of
the Scillas. It is NOT a Scilla - but a Hyacinth, so not to be
Scilla bifolia is a good small Scilla - somewhat
different as the flowers open out upwards facing. It is a good
naturalising type, and reaches around 5in high. A rather purplish
blue, but still a good colour for the early spring.
Scilla silicica is one for the cold greenhouse or
alpine house. It needs protection. A pity for it has lovely lavender
Scilla peruviana - evergreen more or less. Flowers held
aloft to 12in in dome shaped clusters. There is a white form -
Scilla peruviana f. Alba.
Scilla sibirica will always be the favourite - a
stunning blue, and easy to grow in almost any situation other than
waterlogged. The fact that it originates from Russia and the Ukraine
gives clues to its hardiness.