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Spring Squill Planting Tips: Growing Spring Squill Flowers

Spring Squill Planting Tips: Growing Spring Squill Flowers


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

The name may be weird but the squill flower is lovely. The spring squill flower is in the asparagus family and grows from a bulb. What is spring squill? Spring squill bulbs can be found wild on the coasts of Britain, Wales, and Ireland. The population is declining so it may be hard to find these pretty blooms, but you may be able to get bulbs or seeds to grow the flower in your garden.

What is Spring Squill?

Spring blooms are simply magical, as they signal an end to winter and the start of the long, languorous days of summer. In coastal parts of Europe, the lucky hiker or beach goer may see the spring squill flower. This delicate blue bloom peeks out among seaside grasses. Its habitat is threatened, so populations are getting scarcer, but the dedicated beach comber can still find the plants in naturalized masses.

As the name might suggest, squill blooms in spring. The leaves are strappy and clustered in a tuft that splays out from the center of the plant. The flowers are light bluish lavender, with six starry petals and pronounced stamens with darker tips. Each flower stem may have several blooms. Surrounding the bloom are darker blue bracts.

Although a perennial, the leaves will die back in winter and re-sprout in early spring. Spring squill bulbs are used as decor but be wary of their extreme toxicity.

Growing a Spring Squill Flower

The plants produce seeds whose seedlings can take many seasons to mature and bloom. In fact, it can take two to five years from seed to get flowers. A quicker way to get blooms is to find bulbs for sale, but these seem to be in short supply after a quick look.

If you already have the plants, you can divide off the offsets for more squill, however, do not harvest bulbs from the wild.

The spring squill thrives in semi-fertile, often sandy, well-draining soils in full to partial sun. They hide among native grasses, so it is important to make sure the soil remains cool. The plants have no specific pH preference.

Spring Squill Planting

Since these take a long time from seed, it is best to start them in frames indoors. Plant the seeds three inches (10 cm.) deep in pre-moistened potting soil. Alternatively, you can sow seeds outside in a prepared bed in late summer or early fall.

Germination takes place in cooler temperatures so keep indoor flats in an unheated basement or attic. When plants are two inches (5 cm.) tall, move them to larger containers to grow on.

Harden them off when ready to plant outdoors and move them to prepared beds. Surround the root zone with mulch to keep soil cool and conserve moisture.

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The giant white squill, urginea maritima, is, hands down, the most extraordinary flower bulb I have ever encountered. Absolutely every single thing about this bulb is bizarre and bewitching! If you already know and love urginea maritima - the giant white squill bulbs are in stock and ready to roll right now! If you are not familiar with this amazing variety, have I got a story for you! Sit back with a cup of coffee and let's explore this incredible plant.

To begin the story of the giant white squill at the beginning, (or at least the beginning of the story in the U.S.) we should begin with Peter McCrohan, the man who brought them to America.

Years ago, while traveling in the Mediterranean, Peter saw these astonishing white blooms curling and twisting, growing in an apparently dry field. Upon investigation, he learned the glorious flowers were just an incidental result of growing the active ingredients in the rat poison that was produced there.

Peter saw an opportunity. He believed that the stunning blooms would be welcomed in the high end cut flower industry in America, and he decided to find out. He bought eight of the massive bulbs and shipped them home to the Mojave desert. Investing great time and energy in the desert, over the years, Peter's patch of giant squill grew to cover eight acres!

His instincts were correct - the toniest areas of the country went wild for the spectacular, twisting, twining bloom spikes, and they became used in upscale garden design and style magazines and imagery. But it was Jim Threadgill, the owner of Easy to Grow Bulbs, who saw the potential for a giant squill market with the home gardener. So the bulb man and the godfather of the American Giant Squill began a beautiful friendship!


How To Grow Siberian Squill Flowers

One of the first spring bulbs to come to flower, the Siberian squill is a short, tough, cold hardy flower that spreads out and produces wide swaths of brilliant blue early in the spring. Native to Siberia, as well as other parts of Russia and Eurasia, the Siberian squill naturalizes easily, and has spread all around the gardens of the United States in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 8. The Siberian Squill is a member of the lily family (Liliaceae) and one of the most popular flowering plants among the more than 100 species in the genus Scilla, which are native to Europe, Africa, and Asia.

As short and dainty as they seem to be based on first glance, these bright blue four to eight inch tall flower spreads do not ever need to be carried indoors even on the coldest of winters. In fact, in order to get them to bloom when you are growing them indoors, you have to chill them to activate their reproductive systems.

The tiny bulbs grow quickly and multiply, and the siberian squill also self-seeds, and can even be somewhat invasive, if you weren’t looking for a ground cover or a flower that will spread out wherever it sees fit, one of several reasons why the squill is a great naturalizer and adapts well to new environments (as long as they are well suited to its preferences). Siberian quill are also a cinch to grow once the plants are established and the right environment has been achieved to fit its few needs. Plant Siberian squill in the garden beds as a filler, border, or anywhere you need a ground cover, or plant in a container with other flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips, and they will emerge in spring with different heights and colors.

The thin, blade-shaped leaves stick out from the base of the plant and arch forward like the flower stems, but without obstructing them. The leaves either arch forward and down where the blooms rise just above the tips of the foliage, or they arch high, but just to the left, right or front of the flowerheads and stems, that always seem to outstretch the leaves by just a bit to give you a clear view of their deep indigo hue.

When closed, the blooms look like polished kyanite bells. They are a subtle dark blue flowers, but still brilliantly colored and kind of droopy in form. When the blooms are fully open, they are star shaped, with each petal resembling a light periwinkle, to a medium-dark (with almost neon texture) lapis lazuli in shade. The open, star-shaped blooms are the most eye-catching, but the closed, bell-like flowerheads have a relaxing effect to them, both in the way that they sit atop their stems, and the difference in shade of blue that the underside of the petals flaunt.

Varieties of Siberian Squill

There are only a handful of varieties of siberian squill that have been named by horticulturists. This is probably because there are only a few varieties that have been brought over to the United States and Europe from Russia. There are surely many other varieties that grow in the wild in Russia as well, but we are not privy to their names, nor are their seeds available to gardeners around the world. The handful of varieties that have been naturalized and brought to the states and been given a western name are as follows:

Scilla sibirica taurica – has bright blue flowers, and is the most popular variety of siberian squill in gardens today.

Spring Beauty – this variety also has bright blue flowers, but the flowerheads are bigger than the scilla sibirica taurica, they bloom for a longer period, and the stems are sturdier, so as to better support the larger flowers that the Beauty produces. They are also very popular, especially in the UK.

There is some misinformation about Siberian squill, “Spring Beauty,” petals being considered edible. While there may be some truth to it, I could find no website or source that would back up the claim, other than one site, that didn’t seem to have a correct picture of spring beauty variety, as it was shown in pink, not bright blue, so we cannot recommend using the spring beauty petals

Alba – The alba variety is very similar to the scilla sibirica taurica, except that the flowerheads are pure white in color.

Growing Conditions for Siberian Squill

Grow in an open location with full sun or morning sun and afternoon shade. A well-drained soil, container, or bed is essential to avoid root and bulb rot. You will also notice a lackluster flower producing performance if you don’t amend the soil with some decaying organic matter prior to planting (if the soil needs the boost, that is). The best way to integrate organic matter into the soil is to work in a two inch layer of compost just under the soil in the garden bed or container.

Though their underwhelming blooming period is a little disappointing, it has its advantages too. Siberian squill is a perfect choice for planting underneath deciduous trees, as the impressive flower completes its short bloom cycle before deciduous trees have a chance to let all their leaves develop, which would block the blooms much needed light source. Siberian squill is also a great choice to help thicken up the lawn, as again, the short bloom cycle will be complete most likely before you ever feel the need to mow.

How to Plant Siberian Squill

Place Siberian squill pointed end up during the fall in holes that are dug out to be five inches deep and are spaced two to four inches apart. Though you can expect the blooms to pop up well before the rest of your spring flowers even form buds, you can’t expect the Siberian squill blossom to stick around and decorate your garden throughout the entirety of the spring. Squill blooms usually are at their best during the winter and will only last for an entirety of two to three weeks in the early spring before retiring from bud making until the next cool season comes around.

Care of Siberian Squill

When planted in a good location, there is very little care needed for Siberian squill to thrive. You will need to fertilize the plants when the leaves emerge in the late winter or spring. For best results, use a granular fertilizer or a bulb fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen.

Aside from meeting fertilization needs and being sure not to overwater the Siberian squill, your duties are rather limited. The only other thing that you need to keep an eye on is when your blooms start to fade away. You will want to deadhead spent blooms to encourage more growth and more colorful displays from your groundcover.

Beneficial Insects, Garden Pests and Common Diseases of Siberian Squill

Siberian squill flower blossoms, despite their small height, pack quite a powerful fragrance, which does a fine job of attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects to the garden. Fortunately, though there are some rumors about the flower being edible, no deer, rabbits, voles, chipmunks, or other wildlife has seemed drawn to it.

Siberian squill needs consistent moisture right after they are first planted, and while they are getting established, however they don’t like to sit in waterlogged, overly wet, or damp soil, especially during the summer months, when they go dormant. In over-saturated soils, root rot can be an issue. Crown rot, because of the same reasons, is also an occasional issue when there is waterlogged, or poorly-draining soil.

Videos About Siberian Squill

Want to see what siberian squill looks like in full bloom? Take a close-up look at this bluish-purple flower cluster of siberian squill in full bloom.


Squill Care

Squill grows well in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. Squill thrive in the dappled shade of deciduous trees and shrubs and around the base of perennials because they complete their life cycle before the larger plants leaf out and limit their sunlight.

Squill, like most spring bulbs, are planted in fall as soon as the soil cools. Plant squill bulbs with the pointed growing tip facing upward. Plant bulbs 2 to 4 inches deep and 2 to 4 inches apart. Water bulbs after planting and again in late fall. In the garden, squill is most eye-pleasing when planted in drifts of no fewer than 100 bulbs—aim for 20 bulbs per square foot. Plant bulbs along walkways, interspersed with perennials, and in herb or rock gardens. Deer and rodents rarely eat squill.


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Scilla Bifolia 'Blue'

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Contains: 10 Scilla bulbs

Botanical Name: Scilla bifolia 'Blue'

Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Sun

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Scilla Bifolia 'Alba'

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Contains: 10 Scilla bulbs

Botanical Name: Scilla bifolia 'Alba'

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Planting spring bulbs into your garden in autumn

Despite the dark evenings and drizzly, cold weather, autumn is the best time for planting bulbs. And nothing lifts the spirits after a long winter than the sight of the first spring flowers. A bit of colour bursting forth in your garden just as the frosts start to fade is a fantastic way to welcome the new gardening season.

But to get the optimum effect, it’s important to plant bulbs while the soil is still warm – now. Doing so will help them develop a small root system before it gets really cold, which allows them to flower earlier than other plants.

Bulbs are energy powerhouses that bloom year after year. They store the energy like a battery over winter then erupt into flower in spring. They are foolproof plants – hardly anything can go wrong with them.

Plant them too deep, too shallow or even sideways and they will almost certainly still flower come spring. They are also a great investment. If cared for, they will spread and give you more plants and flowers every year.

Bulbs are versatile. They work hard in borders to fill gaps around flowers and shrubs. They grow up through lawns – they look stunning around the base of trees – and are excellent in containers indoors or outdoors. They really are some of the easiest garden plants to grow.

So get them in the ground now and let nature get on with it over winter.

Simple rules for planting

Planting bulbs in autumn isn’t that tricky. But they will flower better if you give them the right conditions. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil – the only thing bulbs can’t stand is excess water as it makes them rot.

Most like to be planted two to three times as deep as they are tall. Once you have dug your hole, line the base with a layer of grit or sand. Then plant the bulb using the light bulb technique – push and twist it into the soil as if you’re sticking a bayonet bulb into your light fitting.

If you simply place the bulb in the hole without any pressure, you could leave a gap where rainwater will collect and start to rot away at it. Make sure you plant the bulb the right way up.

If in doubt, plant sideways. It will still work that way.

Space the bulbs about two widths apart for optimum spread to give their foliage space. If you have trouble with squirrels digging them up as a snack, grate a little soap over the bulb to deter them. Then fill in with soil and water in.

Varieties to choose

Everyone has heard of the big four spring flowering bulbs – tulips, crocus, daffodils and hyacinths. For the greatest impact, plant them in groups of the same colour and variety. At least six bulbs give a stunning show. You can also arrange them by height. Plant tall tulips at the back, daffodils in the middle and crocuses at the front. Crocuses and daffodils are especially popular under the lawn. Simply dig up your turf in autumn, plant the bulbs and

lay the grass back down. They will push up in spring for a burst of colour. Snowdrops are perfect for shady spots under trees, while muscari look especially elegant in containers.

My top eight bulbs for planting in autumn are:

1. Narcissus

7. Colchium bulbocodium


Watch the video: When And How To Plant Spring Bulbs