When it comes to gardening, there always seems to be something new to learn. Even experienced gardeners may not know what to do with grape hyacinths after they have flowered. If you’re wondering the same thing, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Although grape hyacinths are not particularly high maintenance, learning what to do with grape hyacinths after flowering will ensure that they return to brighten up your garden year after year.

What to Do With Grape Hyacinth Bulbs After Flowering
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What are Grape Hyacinth Bulbs?

Grape hyacinths, scientifically known as Muscari armeniacum, are perennial bulbs that belong to the Lily Family (Liliaceae). They are native to southeastern Europe. These plants bloom in mid-spring and are not true hyacinths, despite their name. The flowers of the grape hyacinth are often mistaken for bluebells and resemble tight clusters of blue blooms that look much like miniature grapes, giving them their common name. They are known for their sweet grape bubblegum scent and can grow in various hues, including purple, yellow, blue, and white.

What to do with Grape Hyacinth Bulbs after Flowering?

Grape hyacinths are renowned for their low-maintenance nature. Best left in the ground, with minimal effort, these perennial beauties can grace your garden year after year.

Step 1: Deadheading

  • Purpose: Once the vibrant blooms of the grape hyacinth fade and wither, it’s essential to deadhead them. This process involves removing the spent flowers and stems. Deadheading prevents the plant from diverting its energy into seed production, ensuring that the bulb stores more energy for the next blooming season.
  • How-to: Gently snip off the faded blooms and stems using a clean, sharp pair of secateurs, ensuring you don’t damage the surrounding foliage.

Step 2: Leave the Foliage

  • Purpose: The green leaves of the grape hyacinth play a crucial role even after the flowers have faded. They continue to photosynthesise, converting sunlight into essential nutrients and sugars. These are stored in the bulb, fortifying it for the next growth cycle.
  • How-to: Allow the foliage to remain intact and undisturbed. Over time, it will naturally yellow and wither. Only then should you consider removing it.

Step 3: Let Nature Take Its Course

  • Purpose: Once the foliage has completely died back, the bulb enters a dormant phase. During this period, it requires minimal attention.
  • How-to: Refrain from watering the dormant bulbs. The area needs no particular care until the onset of spring. At that time, consider applying a light fertiliser to nourish the soil and prepare the bulbs for the upcoming blooming season.
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)
Grape Hyacinth Flowers

How to Lift and Divide Grape Hyacinth Bulbs?

Every 3 to 4 years, grape hyacinth bulbs will self-propagate into clusters that can be separated to form new bulbs.

Steps 1 & 2

Steps 1 & 2 are the same as above. You will want to ensure that you remove the stem and deadhead the flower but continue letting the foliage continue to grow and absorb sunlight, therefore, refuelling the bulb’s energy stores.

Step 3 – Lift Your Bulbs

Once the foliage has all but died back, you can lift your bulbs. Dig an area around the bulbs being careful not to scratch or scar them as this open wound can leave your bulb susceptible to disease and rot.

Step 3 – Clean Your Bulbs

Once your bulbs have been lifted, they will require a clean. It is best to do this with a soft brush. Gently shake off any excess soil and then using a soft brush, give the bulb a gentle clean.

Step 4 – Divide Your Bulbs

Once you have lifted your bulbs and brushed them off, you will see where the new bulbs have formed, and you will be able to just gently break these apart with your fingers.

Important: It is best to replant all of your bulbs old and new immediately in the places you wish them to grow next year.

Grape Hyancinth Flowers Look Like Grapes
Grape Hyancinth Flowers Look Like Grapes

How to Store Grape Hyacinth Bulbs?

Storing grape hyacinth bulbs correctly ensures they remain viable and ready for planting in the next season. Here’s a guide on how to store them:

1 – Lifting the Bulbs

After the foliage has died back post-flowering, use a spade to gently lift the clump of bulbs from the ground. Ensure the spade is inserted far enough away from the bulbs to avoid accidental damage.

2 – Cleaning and Curing

Shake off any loose soil from the bulbs and remove any dead or damaged ones.
Lay the bulbs out on a newspaper in a cool, dark place for about three days to cure.

3 – Storing

Once cured, place the bulbs in a mesh bag or a paper bag with holes for ventilation.
Store the bag in a cool, dry location with a temperature between 10-15°C.

Alternatively, for short-term storage, you can place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is typically closest to the freezer. However, avoid storing them in the freezer as it might be too cold.

4 – Check Periodically

Every few weeks, inspect the bulbs for any signs of mould, rot, or damage. Remove any compromised bulbs to prevent them from affecting the healthy ones.

Conclusion

Grape hyacinth bulbs are extremely low maintenance and do not really take much in the way of looking after them. As long as you let the leaves continue to grow after the flower has gone, they will still be able to store enough energy to flower the next spring. Many people will just mow over the leaves once the flower has gone but this is not a good idea as you will end up with stunted grape hyacinths the next spring and that is if they even grow at all. If you need to lift and store your grape hyacinth bulbs, it is not too difficult either providing you follow the steps that we have laid out for you, you will have beautiful grape hyacinths year after year.

What to do with Grape Hyacinth Bulbs after flowering

Garden Doctor Tips

“Replant stored bulbs in early spring once the ground has thawed!”

“Do not forget to leave the foliage in the ground until it dies back on its own. The bulb needs the foliage for photosynthesis!”

“Over time, grape hyacinth clusters will expand. Lift and separate bulbs every 3 years and plant a few elsewhere to establish new clusters!”

“If storing bulbs for winter, check on them every 4 weeks to ensure that none of them have rotted and gone mushy, if any have, throw them away immediately!”

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years do grape hyacinth bulbs last?

Grape hyacinth bulbs do not really like to be out of the ground but those that are in storage and cared for properly will last around 12 months before they require planting.

Do you have to dig up grape hyacinth bulbs every year?

No, grape hyacinths do not need to be lifted every year. Grape hyacinths will do fine being in the ground through the winter although it is a good idea to lift bulbs every 3 or 4 years to separate the bulb clusters.

Can grape hyacinth bulbs be left in pots?

Yes, grape hyacinth bulbs can be left in pots as long as they are planted deep enough and are protected from heavy frost.


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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