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Products > Scilla natalensis 'Dwarf'
Scilla natalensis 'Dwarf' - Dwarf Blue Squill
Image of Scilla natalensis 'Dwarf'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Bulb/Tuber/Rhizome etc.
Family: Hyacinthaceae (~Amaryllidaceae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Blue
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Merwilla plumbea 'Dwarf Form']
Height: <1 foot
Width: <1 foot
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Scilla natalensis 'Dwarf' (Dwarf Blue Squill) - This diminutive plant is a charming addition to the garden with purple new growth in early winter that turns to a rich green that lasts until late fall before it has a short dormancy period and is leafless. In spring appear the 18-inch-tall wands with lavender-blue flowers in a pyramidal shaped inflorescences bloom.

Plant in full sun to light shade with the upper third of the bulb above soil and regular to occasional irrigation. Has proven hardy to 25 F in our nursery but may be damaged by an early or late frosts. A great plant for clefts in rocks or in containers with very little dormancy.

Scilla natalensis species comes from eastern southern Africa, throughout the states of Eastern Cape, Lesotho, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Swaziland and into Mpumalanga where it grows solitarily or in groups in varying habitats from sunny drier slopes and cliffs to moist cliff faces and stream edges from highlands to coastal areas. The genus Scilla was named after the Greek name for Sea Squill, which was Scilla maritima before first becoming Urginea maritima and later Drimia maritima. The current name for the species however is now Merwilla plumbea based on scientific work on the Hyacinthaceae (J. C. Manning , P. Goldblatt & M. F. Fay, "A Revised Generic Synopsis of Hyacinthaceae In Sub-Saharan Africa, Based On Molecular Evidence, Including New Combinations And The New Tribe Pseudoprospereae", Edinburgh Journal Of Botany 60 (3): 533568 (2004)) . The epithet that was chosen was because Scilla plumbea, described by J. Lindley in 1830 (from a from a drawing made in 1913 by Sydenham Edwards in 1813 at Kew Gardens), was the oldest named of the three plants previously known in a group of Scilla that were synonymized as one species with the other two described later with Scilla natalensis described in 1855 and Scilla kraussii in 1873.

The new genus name honors F van der Merwe, a botanist who worked on the Hyacinthaceae. The specific epithet comes from the Latin 'plumbeus', which means "colored like lead" which is sometimes interpreted as a lead blue color and was a reference to the flowers. We continue to list it under its older, more familiar name until such time as this new name gets wider recognition. Scilla natalensis has been used in traditional African medicine but it is known to be toxic to animals and is thought to contain a cardiac glycoside like compound. No parts of this plant should be eaten!

This great dwarf selection came to us in 1999 from the amazing plantsman and aloe hybridizer John Bleck. John told us he originally got this plant from the late and great Manny and Bert Singer at their Singers' Growing Things nursery in Northridge, CA. The Singers had it as numbered collection #1076 from David Spencer Hardy (1931-1998). Hardy was co-author of the Aloes of the South African Veld, namesake of Aloe hardyi (the name published shortly after Hardy's death) and was in charge of the living collection of succulents of the Botanical Research Institute (BRI) which in 2004 combined with South African National Botanic Garden Kirstenbosh to form the current South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). This plant has passed through many great horticultural hands to get to us! 

This information about Scilla natalensis 'Dwarf' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.