ISSUE 69  |  Spring Cleaning

DIY: A Carpet of Brilliant Sapphire Stars for Your Garden

April 25, 2013 10:00 AM

BY Justine Hand

The first spring at our new home is proving a season of surprises as the plantings of the previous owners reveal themselves. Somewhere after the eager snowdrops and inevitable crocuses, a new favorite burst forth with brilliant sapphire stars: little Scilla siberica.

Native to the woodlands and subalpine meadows in Europe and Asia, Scilla Siberica, or Siberian squill or “Spring Beauty” is well established in the US. Despite its small stature, it finds strength in numbers, producing a vibrant blanket of blue blooms wherever you plant it.

A word of caution though, as Scilla’s very strength can be its weakness. Where I live in the suburbs, Scilla’s self-propagating habits make it all charm. But if you live near a woodland, it can quickly become invasive, taking over wild species.

Photography by Justine Hand, except where noted.

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Above: A member of the hyacinth (Asparagaceae) family, Scilla Siberica is available for fall shipment (the best time for planting) from White Flower Farm: $12.95 for 50 bulbs.

siberian-squill-scilla-justine-hand-2Above: Each individual Scilla bulb will produce from three to four small flowers (very similar in size to snowdrops).

siberian-squill-scilla-justine-hand-3Above: An azure star. It may look as if I enhanced these photos, but I assure you, Scilla siberica really is this blue.

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Above: There are also white or pink varieties, including Scilla Siberica Alba; 50 bulbs for $18.95 from White Flower Farm (ships for fall planting). Photograph by Audrey Sharkikh via Flickr.

N.B.: Interested in planting multiple layers of bulbs of different varieties on top of one other to create a blooming bouquet in a corner of your garden? See DIY Video: Create An Instant Spring Garden.

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Above: After my daughter, Solvi, picked flowers to make leaf prints, I read that squill can be poisonous if ingested (fortunately she seems little worse for the wear). And alas, the flowers she picked,only lasted a few days. Luckily there are plenty more where these came from.

N.B. Read about some of our other favorite early spring bulbs in Hardworking Hellebores and A Carpet of Snowdrops.