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Scilla Siberica Bulb Plants, or "Siberian Squill"

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Picture of Scilla siberica bulb plant.

Picture of Scilla siberica bulb plant.

David Beaulieu

Taxonomy of Siberian Squill:

Plant taxonomy classifies Siberian squill as Scilla siberica. This is a case where the scientific name is better-known than the common name, so I use the former in the entries below.

Plant Type for Scilla Siberica:

Scilla siberica is a spring bulb plant.

Characteristics:

Like tulips, snowdrops, crocuses, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, daffodils, etc., Scilla siberica bulb plants brighten our yards with spring flowers. The stems of Scilla siberica bear blooms while still on the short side. In a flag-raising ceremony conducted by Mother Nature herself, as the stem pushes up to its mature height (about 8"), the bloom is hoisted aloft. Scilla siberica bulb plants (see picture at right) bear tiny, nodding, blue, star-like flowers.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Scilla Siberica:

Scilla siberica tolerates dry conditions in summer, although they do require moisture during the growing season. But the latter is rarely a limiting factor in many regions, where spring (the growing season for Scilla siberica) is quite wet. A friable soil is preferred.

Scilla siberica needs some sun, but this is another requirement easily met. Since the plant does, after all, bloom in spring, it won't be shaded even if planted under deciduous trees. By the time such areas become shaded, the bulb will have already flowered.

Planting Zones for Scilla Siberica:

Scilla siberica grows best in planting zones 3-8.

Care for Scilla Siberica:

Scilla siberica is a bulb plant. Plant the bulbs for Scilla siberica flowers in fall. This is a small plant, so their bulbs must be planted closely together (2"-3") for a showy spring display. The idea is to have a blanket of Scilla siberica to cover an area, replacing winter's blanket of snow! Do not remove foliage until it has turned yellow, so that your Scilla siberica bulb plants have a chance to store nutrients for next year.

Uses in Landscaping:

While many plants perform poorly if planted under trees, Scilla siberica bulb plants will grow well under deciduous trees, due to their early blooming period (see above, "Sun and Soil Requirements for Scilla Siberica"). Because it is a small plant, it can also be effective in rock gardens.

More on Scilla Siberica: Toxicity, Origin of the Name:

Scilla siberica naturalizes well, making it suitable for woodland gardens. It is also deer-resistant.

This is a poisonous plant. As something to be feared, in that sense, it is appropriate that the genus name is related to Scylla, a monster famously referenced in Homer's Odyssey as residing adjacent to another grave danger for sailors, Charybdis. To be trapped "between Scylla and Charybdis" has become an idiom in English, roughly equivalent to being caught "between a rock and a hard place."




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