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How to Grow Scilla Plants

Guide to Growing Squill and Bluebell.

Members of the Scilla genus range in height from 15 to 90 cm.

They are usually grown ad a hardy bulb in the garden.

They bloom from spring to the start of summer, and have bell or tubular shaped flowers of blue, white or purple; these are carried on spikes.

Common names for Scilla include Bluebell, Cuban Lily, Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinth of Peru, Siberian Squill, and Blue Squill

Latin species names include Scilla hyacinthoides, and Scilla campanulata.

Scilla is a member of the Asparagaceae, and thus related to Asparagus, the Yucca plant, Ornithogalum nutans, Polygonatum, and Veltheimia plants.

Scilla Siberica
Scilla Siberica (Siberian Squill) by @tone.

Quick Scilla Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Squill, Cuban lily, Bluebell.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy bulb.
  • Height: 4 to 12 inches (10—30 cm), some wild species reach 36 inches (90 cm).
  • Native: Europe, Asia, and Africa.
  • Growing Region: Zones 4 to 10.
  • Flowers: Spring and the beginning of summer.
  • Flower Details: Blue, white, purple. Variable flower shapes, usually tubular but Scilla litardierei for example has grape-hyacinth-like flowers. Separate stamens.
  • Foliage: Bulbous. Strap-shaped.
  • Sowing: Typically takes four or five years for seed grown Scilla plants to produce flowers. Cover seed. Germination time: one to six months.
    Method 1: Seeds should first be sown into flats in the autumn. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist. Bring the flats indoor at the beginning of spring and keep at 50°F (10°C).
    Method 2: In the spring, mix seeds in a moist growing medium, then put in flats, wrap in a large plastic bag, and stratify by refrigeration for three weeks. Next bury the flat as described above.
    Once seedlings emerge transplant them to their final location.
  • Planting: Three to five inches (8—12 cm) deep depending on bulb size. Autumn. Space at 3 to 5 inches (8—12 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Light requirement is species dependent: most species will grow in both full sunlight or partial shade, but Scilla siberica and Scilla non-scripta should be grown in full shade, while Scilla peruviana and Scilla pratensis prefer full sun. Rich loam. Good drainage. Neutral to slightly acidic soil (pH 6—7). Autumn top dressing or spring feed. Regular watering during periods of growth until the end of flowering. Divide every three years to maintain vigor. Spreads readily, consider growing in a confined area. Propagate: from offsets in the autumn.
  • Miscellaneous: Many species are considered endangered in their native countries yet have become invasive in other areas; ensure that you have permission before removing or gathering seeds from wild-plants.

How to Grow Bluebell and Other Scilla

It is easiest to grow plants from Scilla bulbs; these should be planted outdoors in the autumn; plant smaller varieties at about 8 cm deep, and larger species at 12 cm. Space the bulbs 9 cm (small) to 12 cm (large) apart.

If you prefer to grow from seed then start them off indoors in the spring. First imbibe the Bluebell seeds by sowing them in flats (lightly cover the seed), put them in a black bag, and place in the fridge for three weeks. Flats should then be sank into a shady part of the garden. It should take from one to six months to germinate.

Transplant the young seedlings into either a sunny or partially shaded part of the garden that has a good drainage and a rich loamy soil of pH 6 to 7. It should take about 4 years until seed grown Scilla will flower.

Caring for Scilla

Scilla plant species such as Bluebells and Squill are pretty easy to look after. They like moist ground, so water well when flowering. However, when flowering has finished, stop watering and allow the bulbs to dry. Additionally, apply manure every autumn. You may like to grow them in a contained part of the garden as they spread rapidly. If you require further plants then plant the offsets that Scilla produces in the autumn.



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