The Demise of the Exuberant Alpine Scilla

Back at the beginning of April, I spoke of the big mass of Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ under the witch hazel. Not big—huge—and spreading like a rash into the lawn—what little lawn I have. They had to go.

I filed my tax returns and decided I had to deal with this plant. These plants. As much as I love their beautiful tiny flowers, they have choked out everything else under the witch hazel and were heading for the Japanese anemones.

The area in question might be 60 or 70 square feet. It took a week of half days of digging to get them out of that main bed with a poaching spade.

There are about 10 full plants in this one poaching spadeful.
A spadeful of Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea.’ Photographed on April 25, 2018.

They were fruitful and multiplied. I probably started with two dozen bulbs—I tend to buy that many when the bulbs are small.

I learned several useful bits of information in the process:

  • The smaller bulbs seemed to be further down. The youngest were teeny tiny.
  • There was a large variation in their depth.
  • Sometimes they would snap off at the bulb even when pulling from a clump in the spade. The solution was to turn the clump root end up, and pull the bulbs out.
photograph showing roots and bulb sticking out for easy removal
A clump of Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ turned root-end up. Photographed on April 25, 2018.

The most amazing thing about this process was that I filled the city compost bin to within a few inches of the top with the evicted plants—it’s a 64-gallon cart! How big are these plants?

A single Chionodxa bulb with roots and plant, less than 5 inches long, with a bulb that's roughly a quarter inch in diameter
A single Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ next to a ruler. Photographed on April 30, 2018.

Not big, but covering the bed they were like an unruly lawn. It completely smothered a large clump of a species tulip and several small hostas.

Photograph showing 3 hostas coming up from one recently moved root
Hostas, leafing out. The stray bits of green are silver maple seeds that either did not get fertilized or were tossed overboard by squirrels. Photographed on May 10, 2018.

The remaining hostas were lifted, had their roots carefully cleaned, and were replanted in a huddle in the shade. As of today, those hostas are are leafing out nicely, and the areas that start gold are going quickly to white, as they should.

I will be picking seedling Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ out of the lawn this year and next, at least.