Squills, forest hyacinths


Just like hyacinths and camas, squills are among the easiest bulb flowers to grow.

A summary of key Squill facts

Common name – forest hyacinth
Family – Scilloideae (formerly Hyacinthaceae)
Type – spring bulb

Height – 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary

Outdoor blooming – April to June

They produce nice blooms in spring, and decorate gardens or terraces with beautiful white or blue blossoms.

Planting squills

Most squills bloom in spring, providing beautiful fragrant bells in the early days of the season.

Group the bulbs in clusters, with only little space between flowers, instead of spreading them throughout the garden.

Squills planted directly in the ground for spring blooms

  • It is best to plant your squills in fall, 4 inches (10 cm) deep, and they will bloom in spring.
  • Squills are much more appealing if you create clustered spots of color.
    For that, you should plant bulbs in groups, spacing them 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
    The more, the merrier!
  • Squills like sun but must be protected from scorching. Favor part sun instead.
  • Check our advice on planting bulbs in the ground.
  • Here are also our tips to plant plant bulbs in clay and waterlogged soil.

Caring for squills

Squills that are planted in fall will bloom in spring. This is the normal, natural blooming cycle.

  • Cut floral scapes off when they are wilted, but keep the leaves untouched.
  • When blooming is over, cut leaves back only when they have already turned yellow, and only then. The span of time between blooming and wilting leaves is when the bulb is stocking up on nutrients for the next blooming cycle.

All there is to know about squills

There are many different squill varieties, which each have different flowers and blooming seasons.

Most common is Scilla campanulata, which is the one that also has the broadest range of hues, from white to blue and including pink, too.

Two-leaf squill or Scilla bifoliaAnother common one is the two-leafed squill, shown here at the right, that blooms in spring and particularly loves growing on cool forest floors.

Spring squills, with scientific name Tractema verna, are a species that is mostly found along the Atlantic coast, or in the Pyrenees mountain range in low altitude. The Pyrenees is also where Lily-hyacinth squills Tractema lilio-hyacinthus are found, so named because they look like lilies.

Massive Portuguese squillFinally, giant squills, more commonly called Portuguese squills, bloom from spring till the beginning of summer. This flower’s latin name is Scilla peruviana, which means “Peruvian squill” – but the only connection it has to Peru is that “Peruviana” was the name of the boat that brought it over from the other side of the Mediterranean! Its blossoms can reach up to 16 inches (40 cm) across, and sometimes even more.

Among the fall-blooming squills, there is the one called Prospero autumnale.

Smart tip about squills

Squills bloom year after year without any care at all. Plant them in different exposures, as your garden permits, to stage their blooming for as long as possible.

Our tip: just forget about them, and sit back and savor their bloom every year.

Read also on the topic of bulb flowers

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Squill blossoms up close shared by xulescu_g under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Dreamy two-leaf squill shared by kasadziem under © CC0 1.0
Scilla peruviana (Portuguese Squill) shared by Forest & Kim Starr under © CC BY 4.0