Friday, April 13, 2012

Scilla Siberica - Be Careful What You Wish

I fell in love with Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica) from
photos showcasing 
naturalized masses of dainty blue flowers
cheering up woodland scenes.

I've long admired these swathes of 
clear blue blooms
in a lovely garden in town.

So pretty with daffodils.

But this year, the show got a bit out of control.  
The scilla has jumped the bounds of neatly groomed beds and 
spread across the lawn.

It's even spread 
across the street and 
taken over the neighbors yard.

Siberian Squill's ability to create a 
dramativ show is due to its
hardiness and tendency to spread,
both by bulb offshoots and self-seeding.
But this strength can turn into its biggest liability.

I've been trying to determine 
whether Scilla siberica is invasive, and 
have read conflicting reports.
I've not found a definitive indication that 
Scilla siberica is truly invasive.
However, this example highlights the 
importance of understanding the 
characteristics of plants you plant in your garden.

For more information on 
Scilla siberica's invasive qualities, 
read the last few comments below-
several share their 
inability to remove scilla from their gardens.

While charming photos of
bright blue Scilla siberica may lure you,
be careful what you wish for...
before long you may have more than you bargained for.

If you choose to plant it,
plant it where its spreading nature will be welcome,
not where it will create future frustration.



Søren said...

I think it's a perfect lawn plant; the bloom is more or less spent by the time you need to mow the lawn, and that will prevent it from self-seeding and also stunt the offshooting a bit.

Bridget said...

I had these in pots...they died over the Winter!

Giga said...

Widok niebieskim od kwiatków plam na trawniku jest cudowny. Mam je też w ogródku i nie przeszkadza mi, że są nie tylko tam, gdzie je sadziłam. Pozdrawiam.
View from the flowers blue spots on the lawn is wonderful. I have them too in the garden and do not bother me that they are not only where they thought. Yours

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I love it and want it to do this in my lawn. It doesn't seem to spread into actual garden beds or the woods so I am fine with its "invasive" qualities.

HolleyGarden said...

Given the fact that it has spread everywhere, I would consider that invasive, but what a pretty invasion! Not one I would mind at all! I have recently purchased a 'black and blue' salvia. Conflicting reports about it being invasive. I guess I'll find out - the hard way!

Carol Flett said...

Thank you for the warning. I think it is absolutely wonderful in your pictures, but I will now be careful about where I put it.

Alistair said...

The Scilla siberica looks wonderful though I haven't as yet been tempted to plant it. Ah well! here goes, I just wont take a telling.

Sharon@SproutsandWildlings said...

Well, it sure looks nice. I think I understand what you mean wondering if it is invasive. I think we need a wider vocabulary for this. There's a difference between what I call aggressive or thuggish plants and what I would call exotic invasives. For me, invasive implies a plant that can escape into a natural area and outcompete native plants, thereby unbalancing the ecosystem. But a plant can be really annoying in your garden if it spreads agressively, but yet still not be capable of escaping to the wild (or even be a native that wouldn't, I guess, be a concern for outcompeting other natives). Even aggressive spreaders can come in a range of flavors, though, with some having a huge potential to cause havoc in a garden bed and others that maybe are quite difficult to eradicate without shouldering others out. I don't live in an agricultural area, but plants that can become expensive agricultural pests are probably a separate category too. I wonder if the state lists might be a bit of a mix between plants with the potential to cause problems for agriculture and those that are a threat to natural ecosystems.

scorpionfly said...

This plant is invasive and it is a complete thug of a plant. Don't be fooled by the fact that it looks pretty. The problem with this plant is that it can dominate woodlant areas to the detriment of many native woodland species. My neighbour has a swathe of this plant and even through I have a plastic divide, it still turns up in my beds and my lawn. The only way to deal with it is to put a hole in your lawn and take out the bulb. Also do not let it flower.

Chris said...

Thanks to all who have offered insight from their experience. I often wish I could find more descriptive information about aggressive or invasive qualities of plants. I've seen plants recommended on prominant web sites without so much as a mention of their aggressive nature. And, of course, you can easily purchase garden thugs unwittingly since plant tags often leave that information out. It always pays to check several reliable sources before trying a new plant.

Indie said...

Beautiful, but it looks like it's leaning on the 'invasive' side in your area!

Annie said...

This stuff is a greedy garden thug. Watch out. It will spread from lawn to garden, and multiply no mantter what you do to it. Read up on how people have tried to fight back once it takes hold, and you will find there is no way to stop it. Nothing kills it. Use it in wild areas, but never in a garden or lawn. Seriously, it is exceedingly invasive and gobbles up space and nutrients that your other plants need. I have battled with it for 30 years (it came with the house), and can quell it a little by pulling the leaves off-- but I have to do that to about a million plants. and still, it marches on....

Mrs gardener in MA said...

the former owners of the house we bought planted these scilla bulbs as part of a Spring garden and now, fast forward 120 years and these "pretty????" blue flowering plants are not where they were planted but have taken over the entire side yard and are venturing all over our acre lot into neighboring yards. I have dug and dug these out filling several trash barrels every year to NO AVAIL. I have mowed and mowed them down and now after completely digging up the entire side yard, have absolutely no doubt that these are INVASIVE AND A MENANCE. Every year I scour the internet hoping that someone has some idea how to stop this agressive plant. Do not plant or even think about it....

Anonymous said...

Every year there are more and more and more. They are definitely invasive and this year my lily-0f-the-Valley has been severely compromised because the scilla is so think, it has killed it. This is maybe a good plant if you only want scilla, but it is boring after it is finished blooming. I'd rather have a variety of plants that are compatible with each other. I too scour the internet hoping that someone somewhere has a solution as to how to get rid of them!!! In the meantime i can keep only one garden bed free of them by continually digging and pulling them out.

Anonymous said...

Oops! I just planted them. So we'll see. It can't, I think, be any worse than the 30-yr-old Crocosmia I just blasted out of the corner of the lawn. Needed a pick axe to even start to make an impression on the mass of bulbs. It hasn't spread beyond that area, but that's because we haven't much soil in the lawn area itself. A very rocky place.

Unknown said...

Invasive and destructive. I don't suggest introducing it. Anywhere including a woodland setting.

Ultimately this will be the only flower you will see through your window. By mid to late May you'll only be left with a dense carpet of wet mushy leaves which block any other plants from developing.

I also want to give fair warning for everyone's safety... Dense carpets in your lawn are extremely slippery.

The people who already have these plants are offering good advice. Do not introduce them to your property.

Budsy said...

My squills have spread quite voraciously. I really like them though. They have, however, displaced almost all my Chionodoxas I planted with them originally as companions, and I do like the Chionodoxas a little moreso. I need to plant those Chionodoxas in their own group on another part of the property I guess. For those who don't like the fading foliage, remember that just about everything does this sort of thing (e.g. daffodils!!), and the squills are gone in just a week or two. Mow them down, rake them out, spade 'em in... you can't get rid of them anyway. ;-)

Paula Graham said...

sure beats dandelions!!

Me said...

Scilla siberica is evil. The foliage turns mushy and brown, covering other flowers as well as several inches of the sides of my walk. It must be hand-pulled from the beds along my pathways. It's uncontrollable. I dug two feet of dirt out of the one bed along my front walk and put in all new soil. I had just as much mushy brown foliage the next year. This stuff is unstoppable and has moved from bed to bed to bed. If it were just pretty flowers, it would be tolerable, but the ugly, mushy, brown, slimy foliage makes it necessary to spend a lot of time each spring carefully pulling it all out.

Me said...

P.S. It doesn't just self-seed. I never let it go to seed. One bulb multiplies to countless bulbs.

Joel Springsteen said...

This plant can be highly invasive. There are large patches (50 yards wide) in a remnant forest in my area (Milwaukee). Where it has not yet spread I counted 30 species of native woodland wildflowers but in the scilla patches there are only 2-3 native woodland wildflowers that can compete. The area I'm speaking of is one of the most biodiverse remnants left in the city of Milwaukee but the areas where the scilla has taken over have been impoverished. Not worth planting as it has no natural predators to keep it in check the way it probably does in its native range in Eurasia.

Curog said...

Lawn mowing can be a problem! I planted a few plants in my lawn 40 years ago. In Spring I have beautiful patches of blue... heck, my whole lawn. Toward the end of it's season, when the grass is getting high enough to mow, I have a problem in that it's leaves are pulpier and juicier than they look, and footing gets pretty slick. Still... they're a welcome harbinger of Spring.

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