Snowdrops (Galanthus) are hardy perennial, winter-flowering plants that are often heralded as the first sign of spring. Snowdrops bloom as early as January and February whatever the weather – they will even push through frozen, snow-covered ground.
Although known for their small, white bell-shaped flowers there’s an incredible range of snowdrops to grow. Snowdrop fanatics will ‘collect’ different varieties, featuring flowers in different sizes and with different markings, colour changes and numbers of petals. To the amateur gardener, a snowdrop is a snowdrop, but to the expert each and every one is a collector’s item with a significant difference.
How to grow snowdrops
Grow snowdrops in moist but well-drained soil in partial shade. Plant snowdrops in the green in February and March or as dry snowdrop bulbs in October and November. There’s no need to prune plants but you may want to deadhead spent blooms to concentrate energy back to the bulb for a better display the following year. Dig up and divide congested clumps every few years.
Grow snowdrops in moist but well-drained, hummus-rich soil in dappled shade.
Try growing snowdrops beneath deciduous shrubs, such as Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, or along the front of borders where herbaceous plants can provide ground cover when the snowdrops are dormant. They also do well at the foot of a deciduous hedge, and are often planted in grass, at the front of spring border displays, and in rock gardens.
Snowdrops do well in pots, but they suffer if grown in soil that dries out in summer and will need repotting annually.
Once snowdrops are established there’s no maintenance required. Leave them well alone. Allow foliage to die back naturally to ensure the nutrients from the leaves are returned to the bulbs. Divide established clumps every few years.
Propagate snowdrops by lifting, dividing and replanting. Established clumps can be lifted and divided after flowering in March or April. With a hand fork carefully lift the bulb (with roots intact) and foliage still in place. Replant in the garden straight away. Water well. Don’t worry if the foliage looks a bit sorry, as by next winter they should be healthy and strong.