One of the most interesting facts about grape hyacinths is that they’re not hyacinths, although they do strongly resemble them. The flowers are clusters of small purple or white petals that look like a bunch of grapes, which is another fact that results in their name. Grape hyacinths belong to the same family as lilies, and are from the genus Muscari. The Kuekenhof Gardens in the Netherlands contain a famous mass planting of grape hyacinths that is called the Blue River.
These little flowers average in size from 8-10 inches and are native to Asia and the Mediterranean. Grape hyacinths grow well in U.S. zones 3-9, meaning they are well suited for just about any climate. In fact, they require cold weather in order to bloom and are therefore winter hardy. Interestingly, unlike most spring bulbs, you may notice grape hyacinth leaves popping up just as everything else in your garden starts to die down in the fall.
The most common color for grape hyacinths is purple, which is a deep, shocking purple-blue color, but there are also white varieties. Due to their relative small size, grape hyacinths are generally planted in large groupings which gives maximum impact and pumps up their aroma, which is a pleasant mixture of musk and grass.
Perhaps one of the best things about grape hyacinths is that they deter deer. If you have a problem with deer munching on your flowers or garden veggies, simply plant a border of grape hyacinths and your work will pay off in spades.
In addition to garden and landscape plants, grape hyacinths can also be forced indoors. In this case, you should refrigerate the bulbs for twelve weeks, and then plant them in a pot that has a drainage hole. Place the pot in a sunny location and within a few weeks, you’ll have a grape hyacinth houseplant to enjoy. You can also cut grape hyacinths from the garden and keep them as cut flowers in a vase; the scent is amazing.