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Scilla is a genus and species of flowering bulbs, commonly paired with Endymion and Chionodoxa.
Along with these varieties, there are about 50 to 80 other bulb-forming plants in this genus.
These plants belong to the family Asparagaceae and the Scilloideae sub-family.
Scilla plants are found natively throughout Europe, Africa, and parts of the Middle East.
The various species within this genus produce flowers of different colors with blue being the most common.
It’s a spring bloomer but easy to force indoors for fall or winter blooms.
Typically pronounced as [SIL-uh], some call it [SKI-uh]. It also goes by the common names of:
- Siberian squill
- Glory of the Snow
These are easy plants to grow, returning year after year when grown in the garden.
Scilla Plants Care
Size and Growth
The size and growth of the plant depend on the Scilla species.
Most of these species are low-growing bulbs producing strap-like leaves.
The long, glossy foliage is green and may reach up to 12” inches.
As a bulb, the leaves and flowers die out each year only to return the following spring.
When forced indoors, plant bulbs outdoors grow slowly next year.
Flowering and Fragrance
Most varieties of scilla produce star-shaped or bell-shaped flowers with a faint fragrance in early spring.
The color of the flowers also varies depending on the species.
While blue flowers is the most common, other varieties produce white, purple, or pink flowers.
The flower stems typically reach the same height as the leaves, up to 12” inches for most species.
A few varieties have stems that reach as tall as three feet while others only grow up to four inches.
While these plants grow best in the garden, forcing allows the bulbs to bloom indoors.
This process starts toward the middle of the fall and requires the following steps:
- In late October or early November, place the bulbs in small pots with a mixture of coarse sand and regular potting soil. A light coating of fungicide may protect against mold growth.
- Bury the bulbs with their pots in the garden and cover with up to six inches of soil. A layer of leaves helps protect the bulbs through the winter in particularly cold regions.
- Allow the plants to remain in the ground for about 12 weeks. It gives the roots time to grow and the bulbs to drop to a suitable temperature.
- After 12 weeks, dig the plants and their pots out of the garden and bring indoors. For best results, keep the plants in rooms between 50° and 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
- Try to keep the plants at 50° degrees Fahrenheit and then increase the temperature to 60° degrees Fahrenheit after the flowers appear.
- To reuse the bulbs, plant them out in the garden after the flowers die.
Light and Temperature
These plants need full sun to light shade and grow well in most regions.
They thrive in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
When grown indoors, they grow best at temperatures around 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Feeding
When forcing the plants, don’t allow the soil to dry out.
If planting the bulbs in the fall, add bulb fertilizer to encourage steadier growth.
Soil and Transplanting
Scilla plants are bulbs and don’t need transplanting, other than burying the forced bulbs after flowering.
Avoid heavy soil or sand. Otherwise, average garden soil or potting mix works fine unless forcing the bulb indoors.
For indoor growth, use a mixture of coarse sand and ordinary potting soil.
Shallow pots also work better for bulbs.
If grown in a garden, the plants may start to spread through the offsets and seeds.
Adding fertilizer to the soil in the fall helps encourage the spread of the plant.
Grooming and Maintenance
These plants don’t require any special grooming.
How to Propagate Glory of the Snow Scilla Bulbs
Mature plants may produce offsets. Remove these offsets in the fall to quickly propagate scilla.
Follow the previous directions for forcing bulbs indoors or grow the offsets out in the garden.
Propagating with seed is also possible but plants grown from seed may take several years to produce flowers.
Collect the seeds from the capsules and sprinkle directly over the soil.
Scilla Plant Pests or Disease Problems
These plants rarely experience disease or pest problems except for gray mold.
For severe mold growth, the bulbs need tossing. For minor mold growth, treat with fungicide.
TIP: Use a fungicide powder to dust the bulbs before planting lightly.
Soaking the bulbs in a mixture of warm water and liquid fungicide for a half hour is also helpful.
Suggested Scilla Uses
Squills and glory of the snow look great covering large portions of the garden and when grouped together.
Try mixing several varieties to add a mixture of color to the garden. Make sure to include them when layering bulbs in the garden.
Bulbs forced indoors make attractive additions to open windows.