Like hyacinth and camas, it’s very easy to grow squill bulbs.
Summary of key Squill facts
Name – Scilla
Common name – forest hyacinth
Family – Scilloideae
Type – spring bulb
Height – 8 to 16″ (20 to 40 cm)
Soil – ordinary
Exposure: full, part sun – Outdoor blooming: end of spring, early summer
This bulb produces nice blooms in spring, and decorates gardens or terraces with beautiful white or blue flowers.
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.
Planting squill in the ground
- 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 squill
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.
Another common one is the two-leafed squill, shown in the main article picture at the top. It 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.
Finally, 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 blooming for as long as possible.
Our tip: forget about care, just sit back and savor the blooming every year!
Read also on the topic of bulb flowers
CC BY 4.0: Kim & Forest Starr
CC BY-SA 2.0: xulescu_g
Pixabay: Katarzyna Dziemidowicz, Annette Meyer, Jürgen
I planted some squill years ago. Since then, they have spread far and wide, but not closely together. Do I just have to plant more bulbs next fall to get that dense look? Or is there some other way ?
Hello Beth, planting more bulbs is of course one way to go, but it isn’t the only one. There are two-three things you can try first:
– remember to deadhead the flowers. Once they wilt, remove the flower stalk but don’t touch the leaves. This will channel the plant’s energy into splitting out new bulbs instead of making seeds (seeds won’t sprout as often).
– add a 2-inch (5 cm) layer of rich compost. Place it carefully by hand to keep the leaves above the layer. This will nourish the bulbs in the long term. We’ve done this with tulips and each bulb became an extra 4 or 5 bulbs in the following year.
– in the same vein, try preparing a batch of fermented weed tea. This is very helpful to help bulbs stock up on nutrients as well. Apply only during the phase when leaves aren’t yet starting to turn yellow.
Lastly, as with many low-lying forest flowers, you should know that squills didn’t develop to “hog the resources”. This means it’s rare to see a truly dense patch of squills in the wild. This type of plant aims to spread far and not so dense. It tries to catch as much sunlight as it can without disturbing its sister-flowers. This explains the natural distance between plants in a forest setting where shade and sun dot the ground and shift as days and seasons go by. You’d find some large patches in a clearing after a tree is felled, but then it’s often quickly overrun by ferns and the like.