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What Is Siberian Squill?

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  • Written By: O. Parker
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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Siberian squill is a species of small, flowering, perennial plant native to temperate areas of Eurasia. The scientific name for Siberian squill is Scilla siberica, and it is a member of the Hyacinthaceae, or hyacinth family. This small perennial also has naturalized in the United States and Canada, where it grows in temperate regions. The flowers bloom early in the spring, earning it the alternate common name of spring beauty. Siberian squill is an ornamental plant grown from bulbs.

Siberian squill grows 3 to 5 inches (about 7 to 12 cm) tall. The narrow, sword-shaped leaves are deep green, 3 to 5 inches (about 7 to 12 cm) long and originate from a central point at the soil level. The flower stalks are leafless and produce one to three small, bell-shaped flowers that are deep blue and hang down toward the soil.

Grown from a bulb, Siberian squill is well suited for both container culture and a position in an outdoor landscape. As a container-grown plant, Siberian squill can bloom as early as late January in a moderate climate, on a covered porch or in another protected area. When planted out in the landscape, blooms commonly emerge in early spring as the ground is beginning to thaw.

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Siberian squill thrives in full sun or light shade. A loamy soil with good drainage is preferred, but moderate clay soil is tolerated. In dry climates, irrigation may be needed to keep the soil slightly damp. The bulbs should be planted 1 to 3 inches (about 1.5 to 7 cm) deep in the fall before the ground freezes. In cold climates, a 4- to 6-inch (about 10- to 15-cm) thick layer of mulch spread over the bulbs can insulate the ground and help keep the bulbs from freezing.

The bulbous root system spreads slowly, gradually increasing the size of a colony without being invasive or aggressive. In a natural setting, a colony of plants spreads gradually, as offsets form and grow from a central bulb. For cultivation, plants are propagated by division of the root system in the fall. Crown rot, though rare, is one of the only diseases that threaten Siberian squill.

The small stature and rich color of Siberian squill make this ornamental bulb an attractive choice for use as a border around flower or shrub beds. It is planted in mass in cultivated wild areas and rockeries where the early blooming flowers add some of the first color to the landscape. Planted under landscape trees and shrubs, this bulb creates a soft looking ground cover.

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