||How exciting to see the very first sign of impending spring when all else is dormant. The gray-green sword-shaped leaves of snowdrops, poking through the cold wet earth or even the snow, bear the news that spring is almost here! Every year I am entranced by their exquisitely simple form and think it surely must be my favorite blossom!
Galanthus nivalis or Snowdrops thrive in a woodland situation with moist conditions in winter and spring. They enjoy dappled shade of deciduous trees but can be grown among perennials where they will be shaded during the summer months by their companions. Snowdrops can push up through low-growing ground cover plants. Each bulb usually produces a single, fragrant pendent bloom shaped like small white drops on an arching flower stalk. Over the years these little woodland bulbs form colonies of clumps as their spent flowers bend down toward the earth to carefully deposit their seed.
I find that the best way to increase their numbers is to divide them ‘in the green'. You do this by dividing them just after blooming but before the leaves turn yellow. It is a great gift to receive a clump from a friend's garden. Divide it into groups of no fewer than 4 to 5 bulbs and plant them in a random pattern.
In a few years each little clump will have formed a thick clump creating bold drifts of white.
You can also find these bulbs at the local nurseries or from mail-order nurseries, but order early because these little treasures are sure to be sold out quickly! Planting bulbs is not quite as effective as planting in the green, so when your clumps start forming, you could divide them for quicker results.
Plant your snowdrops in almost any soil, amending the soil with organic matter. They do not mind heavy clayish soil. I like to clean the areas in my garden where the snowdrops live first thing early winter so as not to crush the emerging leaves. The leaves start poking through in mid-December.
Snowdrops look great en masse on their own or combined in a naturalistic manner with other early bloomers such as the golden flowered Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite) and Cyclamen coum with its bright pink to white flowers and intricately marbled foliage.
The snowdrop clumps can be lifted in early winter to force indoors. Plant the clumps in a container and move to a bright indoor spot. Replant in the garden as soon as they are through flowering.
In any case, be sure to pick a few of these exquisite blossoms to bring in the house for up-close viewing!
|Type of plant:
Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis family)
Europe to W. Asia
USDA 3 to 9
Glaucus, lance-shaped, slender leaves
White pendent bloom with arching stem,
three small inner tepals marked green,
and three larger outer tepals
Flowers are sometimes scented
Mid-winter to early spring
Humus rich soil, that does not dry out in summer
Moist in winter and spring,
some dryness tolerated in summer
Bulbs in early fall
Division right after flowering before
the leaves begin to die down