NEWBIE: Blue Grape Hyacinths AND Calgary Tulips - Knowledgebase Question

woodstock, Ge
Question by akanjumo
August 15, 2008
I HAVE NEVER GARDENED BEFORE AND HAVE BEEN DRAWN TO THESE I WANT TO PLACE AN ORDER WITH BRECKS, I HAVE NO CLUE WHERE TO START OR WHAT TO DO I NEED HELP OR A GUIDE OF SOME SORT....HELP


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Answer from NGA
August 15, 2008

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You've chosen two very easy to grow spring blooming plants! Grape Hyacinth, otherwise known as Muscari, are actually not Hyacinths at all. They are members of the Lily family, and are native to the Mediterranean area and Asia Minor. They are small plants, usually not much more than 10 inches tall, and produce blue or purple petals that are fused together and have small white tips, giving them a balloon-like or, well.....grape like appearance, and they have sort of a musky-grassy smell. One grape hyacinth plant doesn't look like much, but in a mass planting, these small bulbs can be a total knockout.

Grape Hyacinths do well from zone 3 to zone 9, so they are a viable option for most of us. They are also one of the plants to choose if deer are a problem in your area. Planted at the bases of shrubs, or left to naturalize under trees, they can have a stunning effect. They make good companions to Daffodils, Tulips, alyssum, candytuft, and just about any other spring plant you can think of, adding a beautiful shade of blue that is otherwise hard to come by at that time of year. They will tolerate most soils, except areas that don't drain well. They have grass-like, gracefully arching leaves, and make good border and container plants. They will do well in full sun to part shade.

Grape Hyacinths come to life just as everything else is dying down. Bulbs should be planted in the fall. In established plantings, the leaves will emerge in late summer and persist through the winter, making a nice looking winter border along paths, etc. They will tolerate very cold weather, down to at least zero, but may experience some damage in extreme weather. They flower in early to mid-spring, and after flowering, as with most bulbs, the leaves should be left intact until they die back.

Calgary Tulips are noted for their compact stature and unusually large flowers, Calgary is a luscious ivory-white with creamy-yellow flames. It flowers in mid-spring and grows in full sun to part shade. When planting tulips, it is nice to place them close to one another to avoid having them standing by themselves like soldiers in the garden. This is one flower that always looks better in groups. You can place bulbs as close as six inches away from each other in the ground, and for long rows of tulips, sometimes it is nice to dig a trench to plant them in. Tulips require ground that does not retain much water, because with prolonged exposure to water in the ground they tend to rot. You can test the ground by pouring water in a hole and checking to make sure it drains away in a reasonable amount of time.

When tulips begin to die in the summer, its important to leave them until they have all become brown. This ripens the soil for the next year, and also allows the tulips to live to their full life span. Be sure to rake away the browned and dead parts of tulips in June or July, however.

Hope this answers all your questions!

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