4 tips for growing beautiful and healthy snowdrops

October 9, 2015

Although they may look delicate, snowdrops are very hardy little flowers that bloom before the last of winter's snow has melted. Here are some tips for cultivating snowdrops in your garden. [Image credit: iStock.com/Muzka]

4 tips for growing beautiful and healthy snowdrops

1. Plant them in the right places

Snowdrops like shade, especially as the soil heats up in late spring.

  • Grow them under trees and shrubs or let them poke up among the leaves of an evergreen ground cover.
  • Along the side of your house's foundation, they tend to provide a "wild" unkempt look as they bloom, and provide delightful tiny pops of colour.
  • Not many plants bloom as early as snowdrops, but they mix well with other spring-flowering plants.

Snowdrops go dormant in the late spring.

  • To disguise their resting place, plant them among leafy shade lovers, such as ferns and hostas.

2. Pick the right species

The common snowdrop (Galanthus nivali) has a fragrant honey-scented, white flower with the typical green markings between petals.

  • Collectors who enjoy expanding on the theme should try the cultivar 'Viridiapicis.' Their flowers have additional green markings on the tips of the petals.
  • In 'Flore pleno' varieties, the petals are doubled, resembling a starched petticoat.

Though still small, the giant snowdrop species G. elwesi grows taller than the other species, has longer leaves and sports green markings at the base and tips of the petals.

3. Give new bulbs a fighting chance

About two to three years after planting, snowdrops begin to multiply by producing small bulbs. Called offsets, they eventually push right out of the soil.

  • Dig these "offsets" while the leaves are still green but only after the flowers fade. Separate and replant them promptly.
  • Bulbs moved in late spring while the foliage is still green establish themselves more quickly than dormant bulbs planted in fall.

Snowdrops are generally trouble-free, as they go dormant before pests and diseases become active.

4. Plant them in bunches

Snowdrops grow from small bulbs that can dry out if they're stored too long before planting. Buy and plant crocus bulbs as soon as they're available in autumn.

  • Since each small bulb sends up a few narrow leaves and produces only one flower, plant the bulbs in groupings of 10 to 25 for an eye-catching display.
  • Set the bulbs eight centimetres (three inches) deep and five centimetres (two inches) apart.
  • Water after planting. Continue watering if less than 2.5 centimetres (one inch) of rain falls per week in late autumn.

Snowdrops are a delicate yet hardy plant that needs only a little bit of encouragement. However, if you give them the attention they need you'll have beautiful flowers that mark the end of winter for years to come.

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