How to Grow & Care for Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)

Blue grape hyacinth flowers growing from dirt ground

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Grape hyacinth, also known as muscari, is a small bulb with tight clusters of blue flowers that resemble grapes, and it is also available in colors like white, pink, lavender, or yellow. Grape hyacinth grows best when planted in the fall in a location with full sun or partial shade, offering beautiful spring blooms that grow slowly and emerge with flowers in April or May that last for up to four weeks. Many varieties of grape hyacinths display the rare crystal blue color that many gardeners covet, but they have none of the fussiness that some other blue flowers possess.

Common Name Grape hyacinth, muscari, bluebells
Botanical Name Muscari armeniacum
Family Liliaceae
Plant Type Bulb
Mature Size 6–9 in. tall, 3–6 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full, Partial
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Neutral, Acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Blue, White, Purple, Pink, Yellow
Hardiness Zones 4–8 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, Asia

Grape Hyacinth Care

Here are the main care requirements for growing grape hyacinth:

  • Plant grape hyacinth in the fall in an area with full to partial sunlight and neutral to acidic soil.
  • Water the plant when the soil dries out, but avoid overwatering, which can cause bulb rot.
  • After the plant is done flowering in spring, remove the circular green seed pods that develop to encourage more flowers next year.
  • Shear the plant's foliage when it begins to yellow and go dormant in summer.
  • Once grass-like foliage grows in late summer or early fall, leave the foliage in place until spring. This foliage helps nourish the plant.
  • Fertilize the plant in fall with 1/4 cup of bone meal per 100 square feet of soil.


Grape hyacinth is invasive in its native regions of Europe and Asia in addition to North America, and its self-seeding growth habit can be a problem when planted near crops. These plants are often grown in containers to control their spread.

Royal blue grape hyacinth flowers closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Patch of royal blue grape hyacinth flowers in dirt ground with thin leaves

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Grape hyacinth stems and leaves with royal blue flowers in sunlight closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Grape hyacinth closeup with light blue flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova


Grape hyacinth does best in full sun but tolerates partial shade. Keep in mind that many sites that are shady throughout the summer are actually quite sunny in the spring before nearby trees have leafed out. These are ideal areas for planting grape hyacinths, as well as many other spring bulbs.


For the best results, plant grape hyacinth in any well-drained soil around your property. Grape hyacinths are most fond of somewhat sandy soil, but they do well in all but the soggiest blends. Additionally, grape hyacinth is not at all picky about soil's pH level.


Grape hyacinths like a fair amount of moisture during the spring, but their soil should be allowed to dry out a bit as the season progresses. This helps to prevent bulb rot issues throughout the months that they're not in bloom. Grape hyacinths typically need water about once per week, depending on how recently it has rained.

Temperature and Humidity

Grape hyacinths do nicely in all climate conditions within their USDA hardiness zone range. However, they do require a cool winter period in order to bloom, so unseasonably warm winter temperatures may cause bloom failure the following spring. When grown within its USDA hardiness zone range, grape hyacinth does not require any extra care over the winter.


No fertilizer is necessary for healthy grape hyacinth plants, but they may benefit from sprinkling 1/4 cup of bone meal (per 100 square feet of soil) once per year in the fall.

Types of Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinths offer many twists on the traditional deep blue cluster form, and you can look for unusual or heirloom varieties in specialty bulb catalogs. Because grape hyacinth bulbs are inexpensive, it pays to buy larger, more premium bulbs. They'll produce four or five flower stalks per bulb, as compared to two or three flower stalks produced by bargain bulbs. Some common varieties include:

  • 'Album': This pure white variety pairs well with blue grape hyacinth.
  • 'Blue Magic': This fragrant variety produces periwinkle-blue heirloom blooms.
  • 'Feather Hyacinth': This variety boasts frizzy masses of purple petals.
  • 'Mount Hood': This bicolored variety features flowers with a vivid blue body and white cap.


Grape hyacinth does not need to be pruned, but gardeners may cut back small sections of its foliage to make it more attractive during the growing season. However, the grassy foliage that develops after the plant's summer dormant season should be left intact throughout the fall and winter to aid blooming in the spring. Removing the green seed pods after spring flowering helps the plant produce more flowers the following year.

Propagating Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinth can be propagated via seeds from its pods or via division of the bulbs. Because this species spreads easily, most gardeners do not need to propagate it, but these methods can be used to grow new plants in other areas or to fill out a garden bed. Propagating grape hyacinth from seed can take years before the plant flowers, so division is most commonly preferred. Division can be done in the fall, while propagation via seeds is best accomplished in the spring.

How to Propagate Grape Hyacinth From Seed

  1. In the spring after the plant has finished blooming, locate the circular green seed pods that develop.
  2. Remove the pods from the plant and separate the seeds on a damp paper towel.
  3. Place the paper towel in a clean plastic bag or container that is slightly open to allow for air circulation.
  4. Keep the bag or container in the refrigerator until the seeds sprout (this may take up to three months).
  5. After they sprout, plant the seeds outdoors or indoors in rows on top of fresh soil with a small layer of soil on top.
  6. Mist the seeds when the soil dries out.
  7. Once the plants sprout up out of the soil, care for them as usual.

How to Propagate Grape Hyacinth by Division

  1. Dig up the bulbs from healthy plants and remove them from the soil. If your grape hyacinth is growing in clusters, only divide the largest bulbs.
  2. Gently pull the plants apart to separate them.
  3. Dig new holes for the bulbs slightly larger than the size of the bulb.
  4. Plant the bulbs in containers or directly in the garden, pointing the flat side of the bulb down into the soil hole.
  5. Add a mixture of compost into the soil, then fertilize with standard bulb fertilizer or bone meal.
  6. Water the plants thoroughly and care for them as usual.

How to Grow Grape Hyacinth From Bulbs

Like most spring-flowering bulbs, fall is the best planting time for grape hyacinth. Choose a site with average soil that drains well; grape hyacinth bulbs will rot if planted in a site that remains wet. Here's how to grow grape hyacinth from bulbs:

  1. Start with a grouping of at least 25 bulbs for a small garden. In an average-sized suburban garden, plant drifts of at least 100 in the flower garden or scattered beneath trees and shrubs.
  2. Space the bulbs approximately 3 inches apart and 3 inches deep. You can take out a spade full of soil and plant a handful of bulbs all at a time, making it possible to install a large drift in under an hour.
  3. Water the bulbs thoroughly when first planted, then only water when the soil dries out. Continue caring for the bulbs with regular waterings until they emerge from the soil in spring.

Potting and Repotting Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinth can be grown in containers either indoors or outdoors. This species does not grow well in soggy soil, so choosing the right pot is key. A clay pot with large drainage holes on the bottom allows excess water to escape through the pot walls and bottom.

Because grape hyacinth spreads easily, the plant may outgrow its pot during the growing season. Repot your grape hyacinth by removing the cluster of bulbs, separating them, and potting them with fresh soil in new containers.

Common Pests and Diseases

Grape hyacinth may have to contend with a variety of pests and diseases, some more serious than others. Common culprits like aphids and spider mites are typical, though they'll rarely become prominent enough to be considered an infestation. If you notice these pests on your plants, you can try loosening them from the plant using a strong spray of water from a garden hose.

More serious are bouts of yellow mosaic virus, which is often characterized by a green pattern on the leaves, shortened stalk, or trouble growing. These diseases are typically spread by spider mites that infect the bulb, which is why they should be taken care of immediately if spotted on the plant. Unfortunately, yellow mosaic likely means the infected bulb won't survive, and any afflicted plants should be dug up and burned so the infection doesn't spread.

How to Get Grape Hyacinth to Bloom

Bloom Months

Grape hyacinth typically blooms in early spring. This can range from early March to late April depending on the USDA hardiness zone it's grown in (the plants will bloom earlier in warmer regions).

How Long Does Grape Hyacinth Bloom?

Grape hyacinth blooms for about three to four weeks.

What Do Grape Hyacinth's Flowers Look and Smell Like?

Grape hyacinth is named for its flowers that resemble small grapes and grow in clusters. While the flowers are usually blue, other varieties of grape hyacinth are available in white, pink, lavender, or yellow. The blooms do not have a heavy scent, but up close, gardeners may notice a slightly sweet fragrance similar to grapes.

How to Force Grape Hyacinth to Bloom Indoors

Grape hyacinth can be forced to flower indoors in containers. Chill the bulbs in the refrigerator for about 10 weeks (40 degrees or below) to prepare them for blooming. Time the beginning of the chill period for about 22 to 24 weeks before you want the bulbs to bloom.

For blooms in late January through March, chill the bulbs in September through October. After chilling, plant 12 to 15 bulbs in a bulb pan or other container that's at least 6 inches around and 6 to 8 inches deep. Moist potting soil is preferable—place the bulbs about 1 inch apart with the exposed tips pointing up.

Move the pot to a cool, dark area for about 10 weeks, until shoots about 2 inches long have formed on all the bulbs. At that point, you can transfer the pot to a sunnier location, and flower buds should appear within two to three weeks.

Caring for Grape Hyacinth After It Blooms

No extra care is required for grape hyacinth after it blooms, but gardeners can remove the seed pods that develop after the flowers fade to encourage more blooms during the next growing season.

Common Problems With Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinth does not typically experience many growing problems, as these low-maintenance plants sprout up in the spring with flowers on their own. However, improper sunlight and watering may prevent the plants from growing healthy.

Drooping Leaves

If your grape hyacinth's leaves are drooping, the plant is likely not receiving enough light. The area may be too shady, but you can transplant grape hyacinths to a spot in your garden with more light by simply digging the plants up and replanting them elsewhere.

Yellow Leaves

Grape hyacinth leaves may yellow if the plant is overwatered. Allow the plant to dry out, then water when the top inch of soil feels dry.

Leaves Falling Off

It's perfectly normal for your grape hyacinth's leaves to die back after the spring flowering season. If the foliage looks unattractive, you can remove it from the plant. When new foliage appears in the fall, be sure to leave it alone until spring to encourage healthy flowers.

  • Do grape hyacinths come back every year?

    Yes, grape hyacinths come back every year. These spring-blooming flowers are ideal for garden beds, rock gardens, containers, and landscape edging for low-maintenance flowers that emerge annually.

  • Do grape hyacinth bulbs multiply?

    Grape hyacinths spread very quickly if left unchecked. These plants are commonly spread by seeds, but they can also spread underground.

  • How long does grape hyacinth live?

    Grape hyacinth flowers only live for about three to four weeks, but the plants themselves will continue to come back every year for roughly four years.

  • Where is the best place to plant grape hyacinth?

    Grape hyacinths grow best when planted in full sun and well-drained soil. They can be grown directly in the garden or in containers, and many gardeners opt to grow them in containers to prevent them from spreading.