Looking to add a surprising sea of pale pink color to your spring garden? This lovely grape hyacinth, with its small, charming heads of the lightest pink, will help you do just that. While we usually think of this species as ranging in shades from a dark cobalt to sky blue to white, ‘Pink Sunrise’ is a modern cultivar that mixes up the traditional grape hyacinth color palette in a wonderful way. At the start of spring, the blooms begin light pink and then progress to blush as the season advances.
Like other grape hyacinths, ‘Pink Sunrise’ is not a fussy bulb. It is happiest in cool, well-draining soil in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Being very pale pink and only about 6 to 8 inches tall, it’s best when massed together in the garden to give a carpet-like appearance. Just leave some room for it to spread through naturalization in future years. The bulbs should be planted in fall. If you want this charmer to cover a large space, rather than digging small individual holes for each bulb, dig the entire area 2 to 3 inches deep and place the bulbs 2 inches apart in a natural pattern.
Because ‘Pink Sunrise’ is small and delicate, it is also lovely paired with larger bulbs. One wonderful combination is ‘Pink Sunrise’ with dark purple tulips (Tulipa cvs., Zones 3–8). This contrast sets off the grape hyacinth blooms and allows them to truly shine. Alternatively, you can play up the soft pink color palette by pairing them with light pink tulips and ‘Royal China’ daffodil (Narcissus ‘Royal China’, Zones 3–8), a white selection with a pink rimmed cup.
Besides planting them in the garden, I especially love using ‘Pink Sunrise’ bulbs in spring pots. To force them or any other grape hyacinth, plant in containers filled with potting mix, water them thoroughly, and then store them in a cool, dark location. They will need 8 to 10 weeks of cold storage (40°F) before they start to sprout. Because their color is so unexpected, they can truly shine as the star of a forced bulb display. Fill a number of pots with ‘Pink Sunrise’, and then group those pots with other containers full of daffodils, tulips, and pansies (Viola spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8).
You can also transplant forced bulbs into a mixed spring container garden that combines ‘Pink Sunrise’ with the palest pink pansies, early forced pink hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla cvs., Zones 6–9), and pink lamium (Lamium maculatum cvs., Zones 4–8) for a truly stunning combination. And, of course, a small bud vase with a few of these and other spring blooms is always a lovely addition to your home.
‘Pink Sunrise’ grape hyacinth
Name: Muscari ‘Pink Sunrise’
Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil
Native range: Mediterranean region, Southwest Asia
Susan Nock is a garden designer and container gardener who owns Thistle in Boston. She can be followed on Instagram @thistlecontainers.
Illustration: Elara Tanguy