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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A beautiful relationship indeed.