Scilla peruviana

Scilla peruviana – Portuguese Squill

Big conical heads of many star-shaped bright blue flowers rise above semi-evergreen strap-like foliage.


This is a spring blooming bulb, with long semi-evergreen strappy leaves similar to a hyacinth, with big conical heads of many star-shaped bright blue flowers rising to about 40cm. In truth, the general appearance is slightly messy. The plants will almost completely lose their leaves for a few months during summer. Over time S. peruviana will multiply and form large clumps. A variety with white flowers is also available.


This is one of the rare examples where the English name is more informative than the Latin name. It does indeed come from the countries around the western Mediterranean. It seems the early systematic botanists found the plant growing in the Antwerp garden of a certain Everardus Munichoven, who reportedly got the plants from Peru. There is also an unsubstantiated story about the plants having been shipped from Spain in a vessel called the “Peru”. Either way, Linnaeus simply continued the error.

Soil / Aspect:

S. peruviana should be grown in well-drained, relatively lean soil that has a sandy or gritty texture. The bulbs will not tolerate dense, heavy soils or soils that are too rich or too moist. Full sun is best for flowering. There are reports that it will tolerate only the lightest of frosts, but it has survived frosts in our Motueka garden and there are reports that it is hardy down to -13°C though it is not widely grown in northern Europe so I doubt that.


This seems to a remarkably trouble-free plant, suffering not at all from our slugs. It should be dead-headed in the normal way. If flowering gradually decreases, dig and divide the bulbs in early summer to give them more room.