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When thinking of winter gardens, one often thinks of a white, bare landscape. But what if that doesn’t always have to be the case? Blooms can be enjoyed, even in late winter, if you plant a few Snowdrops in your garden! These little flowers are quite hardy, and though they prefer cool weather, they can even grow in moderate climates as long as they get at least one cold spell in a year.
By planting a few of these flowers, you will be able to bring some life back into your winter garden. If you have never dealt with Snowdrops before, below we have covered everything you need to know to have all your bases covered. Soon, you will be getting your own batch of Snowdrops to bloom in the bleak harshness of late winter.
What Are Snowdrops?
Snowdrops are flowers that are native to the Middle East and Europe. These hardy flowers can bloom even while it is cold enough for there to be snow. People often mix up Snowdrops with the Snowflake flower, but they are not the same. Snowflakes are larger in size and bloom at the end of Spring. Whereas snowdrops bloom in late winter and early spring, some even bloom in the fall.
Snowdrops only produce a single bloom, most often with six white petals, the three inner petals also having a few green markings. At first, the flower seems to hang from the stem like a drop of snow, but it stands straighter when the flower blooms. When Snowdrops are seen blooming in gardens, people know that spring is near.
Types of Snowdrop Flowers
The different Snowdrop varieties may have small differences that most people won’t notice, like slightly bigger petals or a difference in the smaller green-marked petals. Still, those with experience can easily make them out if they look carefully. Here are some of the easiest Snowdrop varieties to grow in your garden:
1. Galanthus Nivalis
Galanthus Nivalis is also known as the common snowdrop, as it is the species that most people are familiar with. If you plant them in clumps, they will look much prettier when they bloom.
2. Galanthus Woronowii
The hoof-like green markings characterize this Snowdrop species on the smaller, inner petals. It is one of the shorter species of Snowdrops, standing at 15cm tall.
3. Galanthus ‘Armine’
With slender white petals encasing the smaller, green-marked petals, these elegant Snowdrops are a great addition to your garden.
4. Galanthus Elwesii
Known as the Giant Snowdrop, this variety has the largest petals out of all the Snowdrop species and gives off the most fragrance. The Giant Snowdrop can reach up to a foot tall and is native to the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean countries.
5. Galanthus Cordelia
This particular Snowdrop blooms into a pretty rosette of the inner petals, with some green markings showing. They bloom in mid or late winter.
Where To Plant Snowdrops?
Your Snowdrops need to be planted in spring in soil that is moist and has good drainage. As these flowers love the shade, they will grow very well if planted along the side of the house or under trees. If planted in the shade, the Snowdrop bulbs dormant in summer will be kept cool until the weather turns cold.
Make sure that you mark out where you have planted your Snowdrops, as the plant is not visible above ground when it is dormant. If you accidentally damage them while digging out the weeds near them, your Snowdrops will not bloom during the early spring.
To prevent your Snowdrops from getting damaged accidentally, plant them next to a Fern plant or a Hosta. These plants will grow to cover the bare spot that the Snowdrops leave when they are dormant.
How To Plant Snowdrops?
When you get your Snowdrop bulbs, plant them immediately as they are prone to drying out quite fast. Avoid planting the Snowdrops in soil too rich in clay, as it will cause the bulbs to freeze when it gets cold.
Before you begin to plant your Snowdrops, you should give the soil a good working over so that you can remove any large stones or weeds that are currently in it. You can also use this time to fertilize your soil. Mix in some compost or dried manure into the soil after removing anything unnecessary from it.
With a shovel, dig a ten-inch-deep hole. When you plant the bulb into the hole, it should be flat side down. Leave about 5 inches between the soil level and the top of the bulb.
Once you have placed the bulb in, cover it with soil and then pat it down to make the soil firmer. Make sure to water the soil well. If you are interested in growing more than one Snowdrop plant, make sure that there are around four inches of space between each bulb.
Snowdrops can be grown in pots, so ensure that the pot has good drainage holes before you add draining potting soil to it. You will need to follow the same procedure as you would if planting them in the ground.
As an alternative, you can plant Snowdrops in smaller individual pots as well. You should also remember that if you are growing your Snowdrops in pots, you may need to water them more frequently than in the ground.
If you want to grow Snowdrops from seeds, you will need to wait for the flowers to fade. The white flowers turn into what looks like green fruit. These are the seed cases. The stem is pulled to the ground as these ripen, and the seeds are released. Gather up these seeds as soon as they have been released. The seeds that will germinate well are those that are freshly released.
To be sure that you will be able to catch the seeds, you can tie some netting around the fruit before it turns ripe and releases the seeds. With the netting, the seeds will get caught before they hit the ground. Plant these a few inches deep and water the soil. These seeds should start to germinate in the spring that follows.
How To Care For Snowdrops?
Snowdrops are hardy plants and are easy to care for. Frequent weeding around the bulbs is necessary, but make sure you do not touch the bulbs as you do so.
You will only need to water your Snowdrops when the soil dries out. When they are grown in pots, make sure to keep the soil watered during the summer season. When the flowers begin to fade, it is the perfect time to fertilize the soil. By doing so, you are allowing your Snowdrops to store up nutrients to help them survive and bloom again.
Once your flowers have bloomed, do not remove the leaves. Allow them to stay where they are as they will begin to gather energy to get them through to the next year. The yield from Snowdrops is larger in the second year as they tend to take a year to get established in their new home.
How To Propagate Snowdrops?
Snowdrops multiply in two ways: one by generating bulb offsets, and the other is by dropping seeds. The offsets are new bulbs that form on the mother bulb.
You can thin out the bulbs by using a trowel to dig five inches straight down the clump of bulbs that you want to remove. You will need to be gentle as you ease the trowel under it to help it get loose from the earth. You can then pot this separately.
If you want to share the Snowdrops with your friends and family, you can share the bulbs you separate during this procedure.
Common Pests and Problems With Snowdrops
One of the best things about Snowdrops is that they have very few problems related to pests and disease. They may have the occasional damping off or grey mold if planted in soil with inferior drainage. Pests rarely bother the bulbs as the vegetation produced by Snowdrops is toxic.
Where To See Snowdrops
Snowdrops are awe-inspiring flowers, and the different types are grown in various gardens, such as:
- Montrose Gardens, Hillsborough, N.C.
- Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, III
- Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Wilmington, Del
Are Snowdrops Poisonous?
Snowdrops are poisonous, which is why animals like deer and rabbits stay away from these plants. It is highly recommended to wear gloves while handling the plants and pick an area of the garden that can be off-limits for your children and pets.
The toxin produced by Snowdrops can cause dermatitis, so it is always best to wash your equipment and your hands well after you have handled the plants.
Snowdrops are wonderfully hardy little flowers that herald the coming of spring when their pretty blossoms start to bloom. Caring for Snowdrops is very simple, and as long as you plant your Snowdrops in soil with good drainage and protect your bulbs from too much heat, you will be rewarded with good, strong flowers that will continue to bloom year after year.
Remember that it is best to plan to grow Snowdrops in your garden or a pot in your home. Avoid allowing your children or pets to go near these plants as they are toxic to animals and humans.