Imagine your garden full of drifts of pure white snowdrops forcing their way up through snow and frozen ground. As one of the earliest of spring bulbs, snowdrops are the perfect antidote to the greyness of winter.
The tiny bell shaped flowers of snowdrops with their hint of green never fail to offer a welcome hint of spring that, in the depths of winter, still seems very far away.
Many species are very easy to grow and positively thrive in cold weather, producing their own anti-freeze to prevent frost damage.
Snowdrops grow best in cool, dappled shade such as under shrubs, around trees or in grassy areas where they will not be disturbed during summer.
The common snowdrop Galanthus nivalis can still be found growing wild mainly in shady spots like damp woodlands, grassland, and hedgerows. There are many named cultivars available from specialist bulb suppliers and it is possible to have snowdrops in flower right through winter until mid to late spring.
Snowdrops should be planted ‘in the green’ that is whilst in full growth, during late winter early spring. Snowdrops planted this way will establish very quickly even if in full flower.
Snowdrop bulbs needs to be planted in a humus rich soil that retains moisture and is well drained but doesn’t dry out in summer. They also appreciate a mulch of leaf mold to help keep them moist.
When conditions are suitable, snowdrops will quickly multuple into substantial clumps. But to get the drift effect we so much admire these clumps need to be dived regularly as they do not naturally make these beautiful drifts.
Dividing the clumps can be done in spring after the snowdrops have flowered or in late summer and autumn when the bulbs are dormant. Replant immediately so that the bulbs do not dry out, Water in well and keep moist if there is a very dry spell.
Established clumps of snowdrops will easily self-seed although seed sown bulbs may take up to four years to flower.
Dormant dry snowdrop bulbs bought in autumn must be planted immediately and may do poorly in their first year. But leave them undisturbed and they will flourish in following years.
Here’s something new and different for galanthaphiles, tha is lovers of Galanthus bulbs. The double snowdrop Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ makes a big splash in very early spring. These perky wonders produce masses of ruffled white and emerald green blooms atop sturdy stems.
They are so hardy they burst into bloom at the first hint of spring, often before the winter snows melt. Bring them indoors to chase away those winter blues!