Scilla mischtschenkoana
Common Name: scilla 
Type: Bulb
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Northern Iran, Caucasus
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: February to March
Bloom Description: Pale blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer

Culture

Easily grown in humusy, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. May be planted under deciduous trees where plants will receive full sun at bloom time in early spring prior to the time when the tree leaves appear. Performs well in average garden soils. Thrives in sandy loams. Plant the bulb bases 3-4" deep and 2-3" apart in fall. Bulbs may be scattered somewhat haphazardly into large drifts. Foliage will disappear by summer as plant goes dormant. Plants will spread by offsets and self-seeding. Winter hardy to Zones 4-8.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Scilla mischtschenkoana, commonly called squill, is a bulbous perennial of the asparagus family that typically grows to 3-6" tall. It is native to northern Iran and the Caucasus. Campanulate, star-shaped, pale blue flowers (each to 1/2” wide) bloom in February and March in loose upright racemes. Each flower has six spreading, petal-like, pale blue tepals, with each tepal having a distinctive single dark blue mid-rib (center stripe). Some variation in flower appearance naturally occurs. Each plant has 3-5 narrow basal leaves.

This plant is sometimes sold in commerce as Scilla tubergeniana, but this is generally considered to be a synonym of the species. This species was apparently named as S. mishtschenkoana by A. Grossheim in 1927, but subsequently named S. tubergeniana by J. Hoog in 1936. Reasons for this name problem are not clear, but some suggest it has something to do with the fact that most amateur gardeners could neither spell nor pronounce the originally given species name, all of which is of zero botanical significance but somewhat important practical or commercial significance. ‘Tubergeniana’ is in reference to the Van Tubergen Bulb Company of Holland which apparently introduced this species to western culture around 1936.

Genus name comes from the Greek name skilla for sea-squill.

Specific epithet honors Russian botanist Pavel Ivanovich Mishcenko (1869-1938).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Crown rot may occur in moist but poorly drained soils. Deer and rabbits tend to avoid this plant.

Uses

Late winter to early spring bulb which is effective when massed in front of or around shrubs or trees, or planted in large groupings with other early spring bulbs. Mass in sweeping drifts in woodland, wild or naturalized areas. May be naturalized in lawns. Rock gardens. Edging. Cottage gardens.