Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Ask Ella: Grape Hyacinth Isn’t A Real Hyacinth?

Ask Ella is a reoccurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight grape hyacinth, a variety of hyacinth characterized by its smaller buds and cool, blue-purple color.

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With its petite bell shaped flowers, grape hyacinth (most often Muscari neglectum but used as a catch-all phrase for any of the Muscari genus) looks almost like lavender, more than hyacinth. In fact, grape hyacinth and normal hyacinth aren’t all that related, and grape hyacinths are only referred to as such because of their vague resemblance to hyacinths. Truthfully, hyacinths belong to their own family: Hyacinthaceae; previously, both plants belonged to the Liliaceae family.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Like hyacinth, grape hyacinth is very much a spring plant, though grape hyacinth has an especially short season– so buy it when you see it! Once cut, grape hyacinths last around four or five days. To prolong their life, make sure to provide clean water on the daily, and split the stems.

When using them in arrangements, be aware that grape hyacinth tends to have shorter stems, and therefore work best in smaller arrangements as an accent. Their color pairs well with bright, seasonal greens and other fresh hues that speak to early Spring’s new life; think: plush cottage roses or pale ranunculus. We mixed ours with a bunch of parsley from the store and a single anemone for a very affordable tabletop bouquet that feels cheerful and very of the season.

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