For such small plants, snowdrops are capable of creating a great deal of excitement. Whether it’s the first sighting on the deepest of winter days, or the breathtaking spectacle of a carpet of snowdrops, as magical as a fresh dusting of the real thing.
And with so many variations available – in flower forms (including showier ‘doubles’ with several layers of petals), sizes, colors, fragrances, and markings (the green or yellow details found on the petals) – it’s no surprise snowdrops also inspire collector’s fever and are a favorite in a winter garden. Snowdrop enthusiasts are called ‘galanthophiles’ and some will spend more than $425 on a single, sought-after bulb.
If you're looking for a festive display of seasonal blooms in pots, on your porch, or brought into the house for a table centerpiece, then snowdrops are some of the best bulbs for Christmas flowering.
They are also renowned for an early display in the backyard, making them a regular pick for the best winter plants for pots and borders.
How to plant and grow snowdrops
Snowdrops are some of the best winter flowers to grow. If you want to know how to plant snowdrops, your key takeaway should be that they are best planted ‘in the green’ when they’re still growing, rather than when they’re dormant. This means, unlike most bulbs, now is the season to purchase as well as enjoy them.
‘Always plant snowdrops where they will be shaded in the summer, ideally by trees or shrubs whose roots will dry out the soil, providing the dry rest that the snowdrops need,’ is the advice of Chris Ireland-Jones from specialist nursery Avon Bulbs (opens in new tab).
‘In the spring, they’ll also need a reasonable amount of light and lots of moisture. You should then avoid cutting the foliage back until it has withered away in June.’
1. Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’
Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ is an early-flowering cultivar that creates an impression with tall stems and dramatically pointed flowers. It has an appealing green heart-shaped marking on its inner petals, with long white outer segments and glossy green leaves. It grows to around 9 inches in height.
2. Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’
This is a mid-season snowdrop that has an especially strong, ‘honey-like’ scent, making it perfect for bringing inside. It grows to around 6 inches and has gray-green foliage. The inner part of the flowers has a V-shaped mark at the tip.
3. Galanthus ‘Viridapice’
This snowdrop has long ‘spathes’ (the extension of the stem above the flower) and green markings on both the inner and outer petals. It grows to around 6 inches and has gray-green leaves.
4. Galanthus ‘Imbolc’
Galanthus ‘Imbolc’, named after the spring festival, is one of the last snowdrops to flower. It has large petals and fairly short stems, around 4 inches in height. The inner segment of the flower has a green tip and a further green tint leading to the center of the flower.
5. Galanthus ‘Starling’
An unusual variety, Galanthus ‘Starling’ has flowers that look out rather than down, making it easier to appreciate the mass of green-tipped petals inside. It's short and has single flowers.
6. Galanthus ‘Lord Monostictus’
Galanthus ‘Lord Monostictus’ has large flowers with bold green crosses on the inner petals and broad, blue-green leaves that curl down at the edge. It grows to around 7.5 inches and blooms between November and January.
7. Galanthus nivalis
Galanthus nivalis – the name means 'milk flower of the snow' – might be simple, but it is inexpensive and easily found, so is ideal for planting in great swathes. It flowers between January and March.
How easy are snowdrops to grow?
Snowdrops are some of the easiest and best spring bulbs to grow. Despite their delicate looks, they are tough plants that can withstand freezing temperatures. They are resistant to deer, so great for wild or naturalized and used as woodland plants.
Snowdrop bulbs take a year to become established, then will spread in drifts each year after. The bulbs do not need to be lifted and divided, making snowdrops some of the easiest bulbs to grow.
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