In the early spring, I noticed more and more pretty purple flowers in the gardens AND in the lawns of homes around me. I noticed them last year and noticed that I have a bunch towards the back of my yard. I live in an older area where homes are over 100 years old. I loved seeing these little blue flowers and finally learned they were called Siberian Squill. They are sooooo pretty! And, I was so happy to see them in my yard.
Siberian Squill - Scilla siberica
These pretty blue flowers grow in both sunny and partially shady areas. It grows in areas of my yard that is full shade in the summer when the trees leaf out. But, in the early spring, it is sunny to partial shady. What I always thought was so pretty about this flower is actually part of a problem. It grows, naturalizes and multiplies in lawns that are starting to recover from the winter. They are a beautiful splash of color in the spring. I also liked that once the lawns were filling in, the Siberian squill would just be cut down with a lawnmower and would essentially disappear.
Problems with this plant
Although I love how this plant looks, it is a very aggressive, nonnative plant. It originally was brought over from Russia. I'll assume perhaps from Siberia? In the state of Wisconsin, where I live, it appears this plant may be designated as an invasive plant by the Wisconsin DNR within the next year or two. That designation may occur because it is so aggressive in spreading that it is squeezing out the native growing plants. It is especially harmful to the native spring flowers in the woodlands. Oddly enough, in Minnesota, not far from us at all, these plants are doing the same damage but are openly sold in nurseries and garden centers.
Don't be fooled by its size (about 6 inches tall) and pretty flowers. This is a tough plant! I've seen growing instructions stating this plant needs good soil. From personal experience, I can say it doesn't. Here you can see it's starting to grow in very rocky soil.
How does the squill flower spread?
Another issue in removing this plant, it's such an early bloomer, that often gardeners aren't out working in their gardens yet. The foliage often disappears as spring progresses and then people just forget to dig up the existing bulbs. The bulbs also grow fairly deep. The ones I dug up were at least 4 inches deep.
The picture below shows the squill growing through thick landscaping fabric that my neighbor put down last year! Most of the squill are to the right of the fabric, but you can see it growing individually and those are the ones who have managed to grow through the fabric (they aren't on top - I checked!
How to remove Siberian Squill
One important thing is to dig out the bulbs when they are blooming so you can see where they are. And you need to dig fairly deep (4-6 inches) to get to the bulbs. They are small, about the diameter of a dime or larger ones, a nickel. You really need to sift through the soil to get those roots.
Another thing I've done this year is just run my lawnmower over them before they have gone to seed. That's a hard thing to do when they are so pretty, especially in the early spring. These can potentially need to be cut down prior to your lawn needing to be cut. This is a long-term project.
I suppose chemicals are also an option. However, I live close to a lake and don't want those chemicals running into the lake water. Also, since these plants grow so early in the spring, the pollinators are feasting on them. However you feel about chemicals and pollinators, that is a decision I'll leave to you and your yard.
Have you seen my article showing what common plants look like in early spring? It's a great resource to figure out if what is growing in your yard is a friend or a foe (weed). Take a look at my article about