Anyone who has not yet taken a closer look at these popular early-flowering plants will be amazed at the diversity of species and varieties that make up the grape hyacinth genus.
The species and varieties of grape hyacinth (Muscari) differ, among other things, in their flower shape, colour, growth height and site requirements. The Armenian grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) and the compact grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides) are very popular. These, and many more Muscari varieties, are presented in more detail below.
- How many grape hyacinth varieties and species are there?
- Muscari varieties and species
- Armenian grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)
- Compact grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides)
- Broad-leaved grape hyacinth (Muscari latifolium)
- Common grape hyacinth (Muscari neglectum)
- Tassel hyacinth (Leopoldia comosa; syn. Muscari comosum)
- Aucher-Eloy grape hyacinth (Muscari aucheri)
- Azure grape hyacinth (Pseudomuscari azureum; syn. Muscari azureum)
How many grape hyacinth varieties and species are there?
The genus Muscari comprises about 60 species, including hybrid forms bred by crossing different species. Many of these varieties are found in Turkey, but they are also common in parts of Spain, Greece and other temperate regions. About 10 of these species are common as ornamental plants in gardens. Armenian grape hyacinths are especially well known and enchanting with a number of beautiful varieties.
Muscari varieties and species
The following is an overview of which grape hyacinth species and varieties have which characteristics and features. Check out our other article to find out more about how to plant and care for grape hyacinths.
Armenian grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)
The Armenian grape hyacinth is a naturalised species in parts of Europe and typically grows in alpine meadows, on rocky slopes and along sunny woodland edges. The soils in the natural habitats are usually dry during the summer and fresh in winter and spring from rain. The formation of daughter bulbs of these early bloomers results in 10 to 20 cm high clumps of flowers. The flowering time of this species is from the end of March to the end of April. Muscari armeniacum bulbs are suitable for planting in large groups as well as in pots. In sunny, warm locations with suitable soil, this species feels right at home and spreads quickly. In the garden bed, it will spread via daughter tubers and self-seeding.
- Muscari armeniacum ˈPeppermintˈ: this cultivar’s buds are white at first and then develop into delicate light blue flowers with white tips. The flowers are firm, robust and particularly abundant.
- Muscari armeniacum ˈBlue Spikeˈ: these blue muscaris are double flowered, giving the inflorescence an inflated appearance.
- Muscari armeniacum ˈSiberian Tigerˈ: this Armenian grape hyacinth variety has pure white flowers.
- Muscari armeniacum ˈTouch of Snowˈ: the striking bicolour of these flowers makes this variety rather eye-catching. The inflorescence’s top flowers are white, while those below are blue with white tips.
Compact grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides)
The compact grape hyacinth prefers more or less fresh soils in full sun to partial shade. Unlike most other species, it has no daughter bulbs – it only reproduces by self-seeding. The scentless flowers bloom from April to early May and form lively bunches about 15 to 20 cm high. Compact grape hyacinths are also suitable for planting with other flowers along borders or sunny woodland edges as well as in pots. Planting Muscari in pots is recommended to prevent unwanted spreading.
- Muscari botryoides ˈAlbumˈ: the pure white muscari of the ˈAlbumˈ variety pairs well with other colourful flowering bulb plants.
- Muscari botryoides ˈSuperstarˈ: the inflorescences of this species are cornflower blue and the individual flowers are tipped with a pretty white ring.
Broad-leaved grape hyacinth (Muscari latifolium)
The natural habitat of the broad-leaved grape hyacinth is in montane vegetation zones. This species is mainly found in sparse coniferous and mixed forests in sunny to semi-shady locations that are often dry during the summer months and fresh again in winter and spring. A clear characteristic that distinguishes the broad-leaved grape hyacinth from the other species is the broad shape of the one to two blue-green leaves. It is one of the most vigorous species of grape hyacinth and grows 15 to 25 cm high. Broad-leaved grape hyacinths are also mainly propagated by seed, as they hardly form any daughter bulbs. The characteristic bicoloured flowers emerge from April to the beginning of May.
- Muscari latifolium ˈGrape Iceˈ: the white flower buds of this variety change colours to dark purple as they mature, providing a delightful contrast.
Common grape hyacinth (Muscari neglectum)
This species of grape hyacinth is found mainly in the warmer regions around Europe. Common grape hyacinths prefer sunny to semi-shady locations with alkaline-rich soils and somewhat drier conditions. Due to propagation via daughter bulbs, this species forms clumps with heights of 10 to 20 cm. Common grape hyacinths flower from mid-March to mid-April. In suitable locations, the forming of daughter bulb and prolific self-seeding can easily turn into a beautiful sea of Muscari.
Tip: Grape hyacinths which reproduce prolifically by self-seeding are great candidates for black box gardening.
- Muscari neglectum ˈBaby’s Breathˈ: the enchanting flowers of this variety are sky blue with a slight grey tinge.
- Muscari neglectum ˈValerie Finnisˈ: the buds of ˈValerie Finnisˈ start out a light sky blue and become more vivid as they mature. This variety is typically one of the most affordable.
Tassel hyacinth (Leopoldia comosa; syn. Muscari comosum)
In many shops, these are often still sold under their previous name Muscari comosum. Tassel hyacinths are naturally found in the Mediterranean region in rocky ground and farmland, such as cornfields and vineyards. Tassel hyacinth thrives in sunny to semi-shady locations with well-draining mineral soils and dry to moderately dry conditions. With ideal conditions, the plants can reach considerable heights of between 30 and 60 cm. This species has an unusual inflorescence – the upper part forms a branching, purple mop of sterile flowers, while the lower part has horizontally protruding, plum-coloured, fertile flowers. These showy inflorescences can only be admired in May.
- Leopoldia comosa ˈMonstrosumˈ: the branched purple flowers of this cultivar are all sterile and form a feathery inflorescence. From afar, they look like little purple pineapples.
- Leopoldia comosa ˈPlumosumˈ: the other-worldly inflorescences of ˈPlumosumˈ also have a feathery appearance and the purple flowers are sterile.
Aucher-Eloy grape hyacinth (Muscari aucheri)
The Aucher-Eloy grape hyacinth grows best in humus-poor and alkaline- and lime-rich mineral soils in sunny locations. This wild species, including its flowers, grows to be about 10 to 15 cm tall. Aucher-Eloy grape hyacinths flower from mid-April to May. Varieties of Aucher-Eloy grape hyacinths sold in nurseries are usually hybrid forms.
- Muscari aucheri ˈWhite Magicˈ: the buds on the inflorescence of this cultivar are pale yellow and mature to pure white with pale yellow tips.
- Muscari aucheri ˈOcean Magicˈ: the closed buds are green and as they open, they create a sea of colours with white buds at the top of the inflorescence, pale blue in the middle and dark blue with white tips at the base. This way you get the full spectrum of the ocean’s colours.
Azure grape hyacinth (Pseudomuscari azureum; syn. Muscari azureum)
The previous name Muscari azureum is still frequently used for this species. Azure grape hyacinths thrive in humus-rich, not too stony soils that are dry or fresh depending on the season. A spot in full sun to mostly sunny is important for this species. The two to three leaves of the azure grape hyacinths are relatively broad. The light blue hue of the inflorescences, which can be seen from mid-March to mid-April, makes this species distinct. The flowers often have blue stripes. Azure grape hyacinths flourish when planted in large groups as well as in planters. They self-propagate prolifically and quickly form seas of grape hyacinth flowers.
- Pseudomuscari azureum ˈAlbumˈ: this azure grape hyacinth variety has pure white flowers that combine wonderfully with other early bloomers.