Why Some Dislike Muscari?

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It always surprises me when gardeners post on disliking a particular plant. This early bloomer does not deserve all the criticism or disdain. Just ask a honeybee and they will tell you their early blooming preferences.

One negative observation, “What does the garden look like at this time of year?” I say don’t cringe to what the garden looks like with winter-browned leaves and open areas of soil, but rather how and what it serves. See my tiny northern garden this late April below. Loads of Muscari and some brown sticks of foliage past.

MuscariPhlox

So What Are the Pluses and Minuses of Muscari?

Deer don’t eat them and that is a plus. They are not heat tolerant. So that does not work in their favor in many places around the country. They have some very unattractive leaves, so I will give gardeners that one, but really it is a shame to disparage such a delightful and easy to grow plant. Yet, Muscari still draws ire from gardeners. Why? Too many and too common. But if you were a bee, neither of these reasons would bother you.

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Other gardeners complain that once you have Muscari, it is there to stay. It naturalizes well and others consider that a plus. Sadly, not including Muscari in a spring garden, keeps it off the menu for the bees.

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Gathering nectar and pollen is what honeybees need to do early in the season. Cobalt blue flowers and the sweet fragrance entice bees. Given that 90% of flowering plants need assistance for pollination, Muscari is a hard-working plant needing bees.

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Clump flowering plants like Muscari will have scores of bees foraging the plants at the same time. Muscari ‘Dark Eyes’ is shown below with Myosotis and in an above image, Phlox subulata. It also blooms with species tulips in my garden, Tulipa batalinii.

Muscari-in-Garden

We gardeners can help bee populations by watching what bees gravitate to in our gardens, and catering to their preferences by planting the flowers they visit. This charming little plant is one bees find early in the season. It’s a beautiful relationship gardeners have with bees. Just look at those bulging pollen baskets!

Every spring is different in our area. This year in the above and below gallery from April 23 and 26, the Muscari made a nice showing with Tulips, Candytuft (Iberis), Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla), Myosotis, Hyacinth, and more. Those bare spots will fill in with perennials, annuals and bulbs as the season rolls on. My post on annuals self-sowing gives you an early clue as to how full.

A few are even in the lily bed just footing the daffodils, even though from this angle one can’t see many of them. A week or two later the show will be quite different in all the beds.

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Do you think the Muscari will still be in bloom? I am away right now, so when I return in May, I might post the answer to that question.

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A beautiful relationship indeed.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
This entry was posted in Bees, garden, Macro Photography, Nature, photos, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Why Some Dislike Muscari?

  1. First, great photos. Second, I love this plant! It’s so pretty, and it has spread nicely. My sister doesn’t like because it gets out of control and shows up in her lawn. I’ll take that chance. Mine here in Amherst is still blooming.

    • I bet mine will still be blooming when I get back from Seattle. It is a bit cool. When I left at 6am there was a beautiful fog covering Buffalo. When I got to Chcago, fog greeted us too. Only what made Buffalo so pretty was the sunrise over the fog. Chicago was all grey. I am guessing Seattle will have fog too. I am on the plane now as I answer your comment. Boy is Internet terrible on this flight.

  2. I adore muscari for me and for pollinators….and great advice…watch what pollinators like and plant that! And I especially love it in the lawn now as it has moved around and out of the beds….it will be in bloom still here in early May since the weather has cooled a bit.

    • I would not mind it in the lawn myself. The only problem is it lasts too long and the grass needs mowing. Right now I am cultivating the dandelion in the grass for the bees. I have not mown the lawn yet. Saw a huge bumblebee yesterday nectaring. We are cooler now too. Chicago was really nippy when I flew in this morning.

  3. Muscari is beautiful and an important part of the early spring garden for humans and bees. There are lots of unusual muscari cultivars available other than the plain blue one (which I love). Muscari latifolium is two-tone pale and dark blue and takes shade. Gardeners shouldn’t see the leaves after muscari blooms because other later plants should cover it up. Native moss phlox is a great companion. As you know, bulbs are not meant to be planted all alone because they go dormant..

    • I really don’t see the leaves either. You can tell by the lily bed, too much is growing right now. I have it planted with spreading Phlox. It makes a nice combo. Muscari is never “alone” because it is so darn short. Many plants overtake it rather soon after it blooms. I also have the pale two-tone variety. It does not spread as readily as the old standbys.

  4. Mel says:

    I have lots of muscari and I love it. I had deer munch down the foliage over the winter. First time in over 25 years. They pulled up the bulbs in some places.

    • I had deer in my city garden when I was leaving on one of my trips last year. That really was a shock to see a small heard trotting up the street. I do pity gardeners that deal with deer. They must have been really hungry to eat Muscari. I have even seen them trying out boxwood in a hard winter.

  5. David says:

    Who knew? I would have thought muscari was a wine. πŸ™‚ I enjoyed learning something new, not to mention the photos, in this post.

  6. Paula says:

    Donna, I’ve followed your blog for a few years and just love it. Today I finally shared it on Facebook with my friends at the Horticultural Society of Maryland.Do you give garden talks?

    • Thank you for following and sharing Paula. It is much appreciated. I have given talks to local clubs, but have since stopped with all my traveling. My specialty and presentation is design, but I have given talks on nature and the environment. It was part of my collegiate studies to learn these subjects.

  7. susurrus says:

    Lovely pictures. I like muscari and have never been troubled by their leaves. I’m trying to remember them – I think they’re a little cylindrical? My rule of thumb is I prefer smaller bulbs, as the withering foliage is usually more low key.

    • Very good point. The smaller bulbs are less intrusive when dying back. Too many people yank the daffs and tulips before the right time to make way for other plants. I have a post on disguising/companion planting the bulb leaves with perennials and annuals. I would add the link, but I am on a plane and Internet is terrible. In my lily bed, I have the daffs followed by Allium, then iris, then lilies. The similarity of leaves really hides the ones dying back.

  8. rogerbrook says:

    Many folk worry about so called invasive plants. I love them!
    Plants can just be too easy to grow. Dandelions are lovely in the right place and bees love them too. If they were hard to grow we would seek them out
    I have recently planted muscari in an area where I am encouraging plants to naturalise in fine grass.

    • I leave the dandelion in the lawn for bees. I just have to make sure I mow them before they put out seed. I have four posts on dandelion that really note what you mentioned among other things. I should repost them sometime. I was going to show my weed lawn because it is pretty in purple and yellow right now, but I worry a client or two might see it. πŸ˜€

  9. swo8 says:

    I don’t have any Muscari in my garden, but definitely get some. I’ve focused on the other spring bulbs.
    Leslie

  10. KL says:

    I love muscari and absolutely adore them. Unfortunately they do not naturalize in my garden. I guess squirrels eat them. I need to plant more. Absolutely great photos and such a beautiful garden.

  11. As a curiosity, have you ever seen anything other than the honeybee on the Muscari? I’ve only ever seen honeybees there.

    • I really don’t often go on bee “hunt” early in the year, but you are right, I can’t remember other bees foraging. I have no clue where the honeybees come from since the city does not allow hives to my knowledge. I get a lot of them on crocus and Muscari too.

  12. alesiablogs says:

    my garden is looking a bit pitiful. But its mine nonetheless and the bees don’t seem to mind.

    • I doubt that. I just saw your recent photos of it. Anyway, I am hours from seeing it!

      • alesiablogs says:

        Haha. It is not as pretty ! The purple is fading!! My fave color! See u soon!

        • BTW, I was painting on the iPad before I finally got the Internet. Did you see that recent post? I painted birds. It took a while before I could get online. No movies on United unless you get to log on to the free service. No USB either, so laptops, phones and iPods are all losing power. I was in the United Club in Chicago on line and it was great for a very short time. I should have plunged in the phone there since I was listening to iTunes. Still at 85 percent so A ok!

  13. Patty says:

    Muscari has never been a favorite plant but i enjoy seeing it pop up here and there in mid spring. The bees do like visiting muscari and that makes me happy.

  14. aussiebirder says:

    Beautiful pics Donna and great bee macros!

  15. I like this flower. In fact I’ve seen some in Pink, White & a Pale Blue as well that I think would look lovely in a garden. You had beautiful photos of them here.

  16. I have also observed that Muscari is definitely a favorite for bees in April. My affection for Muscari is without apology. I only wish mine would spread more quickly.

    • Dispite the clay and hundreds of squirrels here, bulbs do very well in my garden. They are such a joy when the snow melts and the sun shines. Maybe in time you will get more spread, I know here it took a lot of years to get all those large clumps from very few starts.

  17. I didn’t realize people dislike Muscari. Who could dislike such a lovely little bloomer that benefits the early pollinators? I don’t have a ton of them here, but I have a nice little patch, and they cheerfully greet me when I walk out the back door. πŸ™‚

  18. I also love this plant as it is one of the first bursts of color in the springtime and has such a natural look. Also, as you mentioned, besides being colorful, it is an important plant for pollinators…two thumbs up from this gardener!

  19. Susan Loughran says:

    I love Muscari and have it lining the front beds. I love that the leaves come up in fall and stay green all winter. In the early spring I cut those back because by then they are lanky. Then come the beautiful blooms and new leaves. I make sure I deadhead and cut back the leaves when they dry out, so there is no mess all summer.

  20. You’ve sold me. I try some next year.

  21. A.M.B. says:

    I smile whenever I find some rogue muscari growing in someone’s lawn. I love their audacity. I planted some by accident this year because it sneaked into the batch of early snow glories I planted. I was happy to welcome them to my yard.

  22. I never knew the name of this plant, but we have them in our front flower beds and I enjoy the color they bring early in the season. My dad planted a bunch of them when our youngest was born (13 yrs ago) and they have come up every year and multiplied – I think they’re pretty!

  23. Andrea says:

    Hi Donna, the first time i saw muscari was in the mountains of Turkey when from an international conference i attended, someone invited our session to go to the mountains and attend the Snowdrop Festival. I don’t know what they are up to or who is inviting, but i immediately sign the paper. I am so glad i did, i saw not only traditional food and yogurt making, very old traditional houses, the rocky mountains with melting snow and of course the snowdrops, crocus, and muscari I love them on sight. They said it is grape hyacinth, and then later i learned it is muscari. If only they grow in our hot climate, i will be importing them, but sorry they are not for us.

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