Scilla: How to Grow Scilla
What people like me look forward to on the first day of spring is the sight of bright green leaves, the smell of grass and flowers blooming in all sizes and colors.
With the collection of pink and white flowers, the eye-catching blue of Scilla is a perfect mix and contrast to add a burst of life to my garden after the harsh winter.
Scilla is popular for people who are going for a "meadow" looking garden as this easy growing wildflower can blanket the garden bed with its intense blue petals.
Scilla, also known as Siberian Squill and Glory of the Snow, is a spring-blooming flowering bulb.
The Scilla genus has 50 to 90 species that produce colorful flowers with bright blue being the most common.
Its beauty is at its peak during spring but other species bloom in late summer or fall.
Although often overlooked by gardeners who prefer tulips and daffodils, Scilla is mostly used to contrast and complement flowers like snowdrops, crocuses, Endymion and chionodoxa, creating harmony and balance of colors in the garden.
It is also a natural deterrent to deer and rabbits.
Facts About Scilla
Scillas are native to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It usually covers the woodlands, subalpine, seashores, and meadows throughout the countries of these continents specifically on the mountains of Turkey, Syria, and Iran.
North America, Australia, and New Zealand have naturalized species of the Scilla flower.
Scillas are easy to grow and low maintenance plants. This plant is usually grown outdoors but, can be kept indoors during fall and winter.
Scillas planted outdoors reemerge after the winter.
It grows in any light condition. This plant can adapt to full sunlight or part shade.
It doesn't require too much water during the colder weather and will thrive best in well-drained and fertile soil.
Scillas as indoor houseplants grow best in a room with a temperature ranging from 10° to 15° Celsius.
Like most plants, the plant height of scillas varies, depending on the species. The majority of species grow up to 12 inches and 6 inches thin. The flower stems and its long glossy leaves typically are of the same height.
Some varieties grow as tall as three feet while others have a mature height of four inches.
Scillas grow from a bulb. Abundant flowering and stronger scillas usually have a larger bulb since it is where the nutrients and energy are stored.
Each bulb sprouts multiple stems and the plant spreads through self-seeding.
During the winter, the leaves and flowers of your scillas may die but, the bulbs remain alive. Your plant will eventually return next spring.
Indoor scillas grow its bulb slower than those planted outdoors.
This wildflower is ideal for garden beds because of its long, glossy leaves that can grow up to two feet tall, depending on the variety.
Its grassy, basal, linear foliage is perfect for a naturalized grass lawn.
Each bulb usually produces two to six upright leaves.
The charm of scillas is its pretty little flowers that bloom in striking colors.
Scillas loves to show off its bell-shaped or star-shaped flowers dangling from its stem in spring.
Varieties of scilla produce pink, white, and purple flowers, with cobalt blue being the most common.
These vibrantly tinted flowers also emanate a faint fragrance, catching up with its fellow and popular spring blossoms.
Despite their small sizes, scillas never failed to boast of the bright colors of their flowers which are made more intense by its lush green leaves.
The wide varieties of scillas offer different vibrant tinted flowers that are ideal to complement your spring garden.
Pink, white, purple, and blue is among the colors of scillas.
Because of the charm of these pretty flowers, their beauty does not remain in your garden or the pots at home. It is also a popular addition to bouquets and wreaths.
Although the flowers disappear after the blooming season, the leaves gather and store sunlight to be used on the next abundant flowering season.
Types of Scilla
As mentioned earlier, Scillas have at least 50 species. The following are the most popular varieties of scilla.
Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta (English Bluebells)
English Bluebells is a variety of scilla that is native to England and western European countries.
This plant grows a small clump of strappy, acute-tipped foliage topped with arching terminal, bell-shaped, deep violet-blue flowers.
Each bulb produces 3 to 6 leaves and 4 to 16 flowers with six petals each. The flowers are joined together forming a narrow straight-sided bell and emit fragrance.
A mature English Bluebells can reach 12 to 18 inches tall.
English Bluebells are easy to grow and require low maintenance. They love partial shade but tolerate full shade, and thrive well in moist, well-drained soil.
The advantage of this plant is it is more resistant to pests and diseases compared to other houseplants and deters deer and rodents.
Although its beauty is more appreciated when massed on a landscape, English Bluebells makes a beautiful cut flower too!
Scilla Bifolia (Alpine Squill)
The Alpine Squill is native to the mountains of central and southern Europe, Turkey, and Syria.
Each bulb grows two, narrow, star-shaped, long basal leaves and one to six upright scapes topped with one-sided two to ten star-shaped blue flowers in each raceme.
A mature Alpine Squill can reach up to three to six inches tall.
It grows healthy when planted in fertile, well-drained soil. Alpine Squill likes light shade but can tolerate full sun.
Like the English Bluebells, it is resistant to pests and diseases and deters deer and rodents.
Scilla Hyacinthoides (Hyacinth Squill)
Hyacinth Squill is a low growing bulb plant that produces 10 to 12 wide, green leaves which are 1.5 feet in length.
Hyacinth Squill grows several flowered, spike-like raceme that blooms starry, blue flowers with white bracts. During the flowering period, a mature Hyacinth Squill stands tall at three feet tall.
This plant adapts to full sun or partly shaded areas. It grows well in humus-rich, well-drained soil and requires less water.
Like the first two varieties, Hyacinth Squill tolerates pests and diseases.
Scilla Litardierei (Amethyst Meadow Squill)
Amethyst Meadow Squill is a Croatia native scilla variety that received the Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
This bulbous perennial grows up to five narrow basal leaves and erect a pyramidal, composite of star-shaped lavender to royal-blue flowers.
A mature Amethyst Meadow Squill can reach up to eight inches tall and three inches wide, perfect for borders in the garden.
This bulb grows well in moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil and tolerates full sun and partial shade.
It requires regular watering but should be reduced during the dormancy period in summer.
Amethyst Meadow Squill resists deer, rodents, and squirrels, but is prone to eelworm and slugs.
Scilla Madeirensis (Madeiran Squill)
The Madeiran Squill, a native from the island of Madeiran in Portugal, is a bulbous perennial that produces verdant foliage of pointed leaves, and coned-shaped flowering stalks that bloom hundreds of the adorned tiny purple-speckled flowers.
The medium green leaves can grow up to 12 inches tall. During the flowering season, the Madeiran Squill can reach at least 2 feet in height.
Unlike the other scilla varieties, Madeiran Squill shows off its flowers in late fall to early winter. Its vibrant amethyst blooms complement the dull white snow, making it a favorite houseplant displayed on windowsills.
Although blossoms in fall, this plant requires care during the winters. It needs to be placed in an area with a temperature of 5celsius, and a maximum of 29°celsius during the growth period.
Madeiran Squill loves fast-draining soil, and bright, indirect light and needs average watering.
However, this charming and exotic species are endangered in the wild and rarely seen in the market.
Scilla Mischtschenkoana (White Squill)
In contrast to the first blue to lavender varieties of scilla mentioned above, the White Squill is quite an eye-catcher with its pale blue to snowy white blossoms.
Native to the mountains of Iran, the White Squill is an early bloomer, blossoming in late winter or early spring.
The bulb grows up to four stems, each with three to five starry ice blue to white flowers with a dark stripe through each petal and linear, grass-like leaves.
White Squills grow the healthiest when planted in moderately fertile, moist, and well-drained soil. It thrives in full sun and dappled shade.
It also has a great tolerance to deer and rodents.
Scilla Peruviana (Portuguese Squill)
Native to Spain and the western Mediterranean region, the Portuguese Squill grows one or more six-inch-long stems that hold globes composed of up to 50 compact starry lavender flowers. These flowerheads are the same size as a softball. Its leaves are long and strappy similar to the hyacinth.
Portuguese Squill can grow up to 20 inches tall and 8 inches wide.
This plant blooms in late spring to early summer, and its blossoms have great longevity lasting up to three weeks.
Portuguese Squill likes humus-rich, fertile, well-drained soil and can be placed under full sun or partial shade. It requires low to average watering and loves warm Mediterranean weather.
This variety of scilla is prone to eelworm and slugs.
Scilla Sardensis (Lesser Glory of the Snow)
The Lesser Glory of the Snow traces its origin back in western Turkey. It is a clump-forming bulb that produces two narrow lance-shaped basal leaves and a raceme with up to 15 slightly arching showy blue flowers. The unique trait of this variety is the little white on the center of each flower.
It blooms in late winter and early spring.
A mature Lesser Glory of Snow can reach up to eight inches tall and two inches wide.
It enjoys moderately fertile, well-drained soil and tolerates full sunlight and light shade. It requires regular watering.
The Lesser Glory of Snow resists pests and diseases and deters deer, rodents, and squirrels. Its deep rich blue blossoms emit a faint fragrance and attract butterflies.
Scilla Siberica (Siberian Squill)
Siberian Squill is a bulbous perennial that has narrow, strap-shaped basal lush leaves and purple stems displaying short racemes with two to five drooping, bowl-shaped vivid sky-blue flowers.
Siberian Squill grows up to six inches tall and six inches wide.
This easy growing and low maintenance Siberian Squill prefers average, well-drained soil and thrives in full sun to mostly shade. It also requires regular watering.
This variety of scilla is one of the most winter-hardy plants. It resists pests and diseases and deters deer, rabbits, and rodents.
Gardeners prefer using this flower as a lawn naturaliser. They also combine Siberian Squill with other spring blossoms such as snowdrops and the Glory of the Snow.
Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow)
Native to Turkish soil, Glory of the Snow is one of the earliest plants to show off its blossoms in spring.
This bulbous perennial has two to three strap-shaped lush leaves and a one-sided raceme that bears starry saucer-shaped, bright blue flowers with a pale white center. Each flower has six petals.
The Glory of the snow can reach up to six inches tall and six inches wide.
This spring favorite easily grows in an average or medium, well-drained soil. It tolerates full sun or part shade.
Generally, Glory of the Snow is pest and disease-free, and deer resistant.
Hyacinthoides Hispanica (Spanish Bluebells)
The Spanish Bluebells that grace the European and northwest African landscape are robust bulbous perennials that have linear to glossy strap-shaped lush leaves, and dark green to purplish, sturdy stems where drooping, bell-shaped flowers hang.
Naturally, the blossoms have a striking blue color. Spanish Bluebells can produce flowers in shades of violet-blue, lavender, pink, or white depending on the cultivar.
When grown under good conditions, the Spanish Bluebells can reach up to 18 inches tall and 16 inches wide.
This plant tolerates drought and dry sandy soil, but for healthier growth, plant them in an average, moist, well-drained soil.
Placing them under a full sun will make the colors less vibrant or even fade. It is ideal planting them in partial shade or full shade.
This plant is disease and pest free and tolerates deer and rodents.
However, Spanish Bluebells are considered invasive in the United Kingdom. This is because the plant is naturalized and adapts quickly. It poses threats to dilute native species like the English Bluebells.
How to Grow Scilla
Scillas are a pleasing addition to our dull garden beds. Plus, it is one of the earliest flowers that welcome the arrival of spring.
This plant is not really picky about its soil, but scillas love average to medium soil that drains well. You can use peat moss, ground bark, compost, or decomposed manure to improve the draining ability of your soil.
Waterlogged soils may damage your scilla bulbs and impair their growth and flowering.
If grown indoors, better to plant it in a mixture of coarse sand and ordinary potting soil.
Majority of scilla varieties thrive in full sun to partial shade to dappled shade.
It is good for your scilla to get full sun in winter while partial shade during summer.
Outdoors, you can plant them anywhere, even under the tree shade where they can still get an adequate amount of sunlight. If placed in deep shade, your scilla may not blossom.
However, scilla variety like the Spanish Bluebell dislikes full sun. It thrives best in partial or full shade.
Generally, scillas are not particular about the light conditions as long as they get good light.
Temperature & Humidity
Scillas are known to be winter hardy! It can survive a temperature as low as -32° Celsius. However, it may not survive long enough in warmer climates.
The best temperature for your scilla indoors is 15° Celsius.
Scillas are not really particular about humidity.
Scillas need an average amount of water. Water your scillas as needed, especially during the growth period.
Reduce watering when it’s dormant. Overwatering your plant may damage your bulb.
Dehydrating your plant, especially during summer may wrinkle your bulb.
However, forced bulbs need moist soil so avoid drying them out.
Generally, scilla only needs feeding when it is newly planted or as a young plant, but it is not really required.
Scillas will do just fine when in the right environmental conditions.
The best time to fertilize your plant is in spring. Bulb fertilizer promotes steadier growth.
Fortunately, scillas are low maintaining plants. They don't need any special pruning or grooming, especially if you prefer them to naturalize your lawn.
Scillas like to roam around so if you are maintaining a specific look of your garden, you can remove its offsets.
After the blossoming season, scilla flowers will die, and the leaves may turn yellow. During this period, allow the leaves to wilt on their own rather than removing them. The yellowing foliage is still gathering sunlight and make food for the next flowering season.
Once the leaves dry out, you can remove them by pulling them gently out of the soil.
Scillas mature fast and reproduce quickly.
You can propagate this plant using its offsets and seeds.
Offset is basically the daughter plant of your original bulb. It is produced asexually by the mother plant.
In propagating scillas, remove the offsets from the mature bulbs during fall. You can now plant your bulb in your garden or even force them.
Another way of propagating the scilla is through its seeds.
You can collect its seeds from its capsules and plant them on the soil. However, it may take several years for them to grow, mature, and flower.
As a bulbous perennial, scillas do not need transplanting unless you choose to force them.
Forcing the bulbs basically means tricking your plant to flower indoors outside its blooming season by giving it the right condition.
Transplanting of forced bulbs happens in fall. You can bury your bulbs with their pots in your garden with six inches of soil covering it.
Dig your plant and its pot out of your garden soil after 12 weeks.
Keep your plant indoors in a room with a temperature of 10° Celsius.
By maintaining the right condition, your forced scilla will flower.
You can restart the entire process with the same forced bulb once its flowers wilt.
Scilla Health Benefits
Traditional medicine already recognized the health benefits of specific varieties of scilla bulbs and often included them as ingredients for supplements and tonics.
Listed below are the health benefits of scilla bulbs.
- Heart Tonic. Cardiac glycosides rich scilla bulbs help to stimulate the heart. It treats mild heart failure and irregular heartbeats.
- Scilla bulbs are also used in treating chronic bronchitis, asthma, and cough.
- It also relieves edema.
- This plant induces vomiting, and some use it to cause abortion.
- Small doses can act as kidney stimulant.
- It helps to treat hair problems such as dandruff and skin diseases like psoriasis.
- There are studies that acknowledged scillas’ effectiveness against cancer.
However, although this plant is packed with wonderful health benefits, it is not advisable to consume the scilla bulb directly or be taken by the mouth. Scillas have chemicals that are considered unsafe and may cause discomfort.
Uses of Scilla
Herbalists and horticulturists acknowledge the medicinal use of some varieties of the scilla.
Its medical wonders date back to 1500 BC in the Mediterranean Sea where ancient physicians used it for heart diseases.
Today, traditional physicians still use medications containing scilla for the treatment of cardiovascular ailments.
The medicinal properties of the scilla bulb are at the highest level after its foliage wither. It is the perfect time to harvest the bulbs.
The inner layer of the bulbs is sliced, dehydrated, and ground into powder.
Mashed bulbs are also used in poultices.
The Scilla Mischtschenkoana or the White Squill is a common ingredient in herbal supplements.
However, several varieties of scillas like Drimia Maritima or the Red Squill contain toxins and chemicals that are used to poison rodents and can be deadly to humans.
Scilla is a perfect addition to the garden. The grandeur of its flowers and its fragrance offers a classic way to welcome the spring season.
However, it doesn't mean that it only shows off its beauty in spring and disappears in summer.
Forcing the bulbs to blossom makes it a stunning ornamental plant indoors, displaying flowers in every season possible.
The azure, white, pink, and lavender blooms are also bouquet favorites.
Scillas are known to be spring flowers. Depending on the variety, scillas produce cobalt blue, lavender, white and pink blossoms, making them a great companion to tulips, snowdrops, and crocuses.
It is an easy growing, low maintaining plant. It is also winter hardy and spreads quickly.
Pests and diseases are never a problem for scillas. Rodents and deer seem to avoid them as well.
You can plant it in your garden or keep it indoors by forcing the bulbs.
These colorful mini flowers make a great window display and bouquet decoration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Scilla poisonous?
Most scillas contain chemicals and toxins that can cause discomfort, even vomiting when consumed by humans and animals. These chemicals are often used for rodenticides.
How do you plant Scilla bulbs?
The ideal time to plant scilla bulbs is in mid to late fall.
Bury the bulbs in the soil four inches deep and four inches apart from the other bulbs.
For a natural look, plant a cluster of 10 bulbs, two inches apart from each other.
Water the soil after planting.
What does Scilla look like?
Scilla is a spring-blooming bulb. Its height does not exceed three feet.
Most varieties produce strap-shaped leaves and a raceme which holds either drooping, bell-shaped blossoms or a globe or cone composed of star-shaped flowers.
The most common color of scilla flowers is deep blue. Other varieties produce white, pink, and lavender.