How to Grow Squill — Scilla

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Scilla–commonly called squill–bears nodding, bell-shaped to flat or star-shaped flowers in spring. The blossoms are usually blue, but also pink, purple, or white.

Scilla is a perennial bulb. It has strap-shaped mid-green leaves that offset the colorful flowers. Scilla stands just 3 to 6 inches tall.

Plant Scilla in groups in autumn for spring blooms. Naturalize Scilla under trees and shrubs or in a lawn. Plant Scilla with other dwarfs, spring-flowering bulbs, such as miniature daffodils.

Scilla is a genus of about 90 species of bulbous perennials native to subalpine meadows in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Get to know Scilla

  • Plant type: Hardy late winter- or early spring-blooming bulb
  • Growing Zones and range: 2-8; grow as a perennial in Zones 8-10
  • Hardiness: In colder zones, grow squill as an annual planted in spring
  • Height and width: 4 to 18 inches (10-45cm) tall, 4 to 10 inches (25cm) wide
  • Foliage: Semi erect, linear to elliptic, sometimes channles, basal leaves
  • Flowers: Bell-shaped white, purple, or blue flowers in spikes
  • Bloom time: Late winter or early spring
  • Uses: Beds, borders, meadows, containers, houseplant
  • Common name: Squill
  • Botanical name: Scilla spp.
  • Family: Liliaceae
  • Origin: Meadows and woodlands inEurope, Africa, and Asia

Where to plant Scilla

  • Plant Scilla in full sun to light shade.
  • Grow Scilla in humus-rich to average, well-drained soil.
Squill, Scilla
Squill, Scilla

When to plant Scilla

  • Plant Scilla in mid-autumn in Zones 2-6; plant in late autumn in Zones 7-8.

Planting and spacing Scilla

  • Space Scilla 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) apart. Select a spot that is not wet in summer.
  • Plant Scilla 2 to 3 inches (5-7.6cm) deep.
  • Plant in groups of 3 to 4 dozen for best effect.
  • Soak bulbs with dry roots in water for a few hours before planting.

How to water and feed Scilla

  • Squill needs ample water while blooming; keep the soil evenly moist. Squill needs moderate water when it goes dormant in late spring. Avoid watering squill in summer.
  • Squill does not need fertilizer.

Scilla care

  • Lift and store bulbs after blooming and after foliage yellows.
  • Scilla is commonly pest free.

Growing Scilla as a houseplant

  • Scilla can be forced after a chilling period.
  • Plant bulbs in the fall in a well-drained, soilless medium.
  • Water well and place the pots outside, either buried in the ground or protected in a cold frame for 10 weeks.
  • If the temperature does not drop below 40F during this period, place the bulbs in a refrigerator to chill.
  • Put the pots in a room where the temperature is cool, light is bright to direct and humidity is high.
  • Keep the growing medium evenly moist, and do not fertilize.
  • After the bulbs have flowered, they can be planted in the garden for blooms the next season.

Scilla pests and diseases

  • Aphids may attack Scilla.
  • Scilla is susceptible to rot diseases.

Scilla propagation

  • Divide Scilla and pot up offsets when dormant. Offsets form at the base of the plant.

Scilla varieties to grow

  • Scilla bifolia, two-leaved squill. Grows 6 inches; linear, basal leaves; star-shaped, blue to purple flowers.
  • Scilla peruviana, Cuban lily. Grows 10 to 12 inches; star-shaped mauve-pink flowers; blooms in late spring; hardy in Zones 4-8
  • Scilla sibirica, Siberian squill. Grows to 6 inches tall; two to five strap-shaped leaves; drooping bell-shaped, waxy flowers 1/2 inch across are deep blue; hardy in Zones 2-7. Cultivars ‘Alba’ has white flowers; ‘Azurea’ has bright blue flowers; ‘Taurica’ has light blue flowers.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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