Siberian Squill

Siberian Squill

siberian squill
<p><em>The photo of Squill on the left is courtesy of Susan Mahr, UW Horticulture.</em></p>

March is a time of the year when the weather is just beginning to warm up but the trees and shrubs are still not very showy.  However, there are many early spring blooming bulbs that we can add to our landscapes for early interest and to reduce the drab winter colorations in our gardens.  One good early spring blooming bulb is Siberian Squill, or Scilla, the March plant of the month. 

Siberian Squill, Scilla sibirica, is a small bulb that grows well on the edge of the understory of deciduous trees.  This plant only grows to 6 inches tall and wide and has dark green, grass-like leaves.  The leaves emerge early in the spring, just before the flowers appear.  The flowers are nodding, blue, and star-shaped.  One to three flowers are held on each flower stalk and they bloom in March and April.  The plant will go dormant by early spring, so no leaves will even be present through the summer months.

Siberian Squill as a straight species is beautiful and unique, as it is hard to find a blue flowering plant.  There are a couple of good varieties to choose from for different combinations in your garden.  Scilla siberica taurica is a good choice for bright blue flowers, brighter than the straight species.  'Spring Beauty' is a good one for a little more height and it has larger flowers for more impact in your garden.  'Alba' is a good choice with completely white flowers. 

Squill is a good choice for an understory location.  It prefers full to part sun and moist, well-drained soils.  Scilla will spread easily by seed once established so it can develop nicely over an area on its own.  Also, due to the grass-like leaves that only last for a few weeks and the spreading habit, it does well in a lawn or non-mowed naturalized area to give it some early color and interest.

According to the University of Wisconsin Extension, Siberian Squill is a good pollinator plant for bees and other pollinating insects.  Which is good, because at that time of the year, there are not as many plants for bees to forage.  They are also poisonous to us to eat, as it may be fatal and it can cause a minor skin irritation, according to NC State University Cooperative Extension, so be careful with it around pets and small children.  Siberian Squill is a great plant that is not eaten by voles, rabbits, or deer, so wildlife should not bother these plants or the bulbs.

Siberian Squill is a nice, fun burst of color early in the spring that can be planted right into other later growing plants in your landscape.  It can grow in the understory of trees or out in your lawn or naturalized areas of your landscape to add a bit of color and then go dormant for the year.  It is one plant that is not eaten by wildlife so it is a good choice for acreages where voles and squirrels may typically eat the bulbs you plant.  So the next time you are looking for a plant with early spring color, look to plant Siberian Squill. 

siberian squill
The photo of Scilla on the right is courtesy of The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org
Nicole Stoner

Nicole Stoner, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, provides a monthly feature on plants to consider for your acreage. This month, she has another plant that provides early season interest. In preparation for spring, she has chosen Siberian Squill or Scilla.