By Nikki Phipps
Snowdrops are a striking, honey-scented little plant and a member of the Amaryllis family. Growing and caring for snowdrops bulbs is easy enough for even the most inexperienced of gardeners.
Snowdrops Plant Info
Snowdrops’ genus name, Galanthus, means ‘milky-white flowers’ and comes from the fact that the blooms resemble drops of milk hanging from the stem. There are about 75 snowdrop species, all of which produce white flowers. Some varieties of snowdrop bloom strictly in winter, while others will bloom in the fall. In areas of the southern U.S., they may even bloom throughout the winter season, and it’s not uncommon for them to be seen in bloom before the first crocus.
- The giant snowdrop (G. elwesii) is native to Turkey and other parts of Europe. This species of snowdrop has nodding white flowers growing up from a clump of narrow, gray-green leaves. It is one of he earliest to appear. With wide greyish leaves, the flowers are distinguished by mostly having two green spots on the inner petals.
- Another species, the common snowdrop (G. nivalis), is a double-flowered form with drooping, pear-shaped blooms and broad grayish-colored leaves. This snowdrop blooms in late winter and prefers woodland environments.
- A couple of other snowdrop species worth mentioning are (G. plicatus) and (G. woronowii). G. plicatus, called Three Ships, is native to Crimea and was brought back from there in the 1850s where it quickly became a favorable plant among Victorians. This particular species is notable for its interesting foliage. The greenish-gray to blue-gray leaves are folded along the edges with a silver-colored stripe down the center. The other species, G. woronowii, is native to Russia, the Caucasus, in addition to parts of Turkey and Iran. This species has broad, brightly colored green foliage and a green marking along the tips of the inner three white petals.
How to Grow Snowdrops
Snowdrops reach up to 8 inches in height once mature. The bulbs should be planted in the fall approximately 2-3 inches deep.
Snowdrops can be located in full sun or light shade but require moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil in order to thrive.
For the greatest effect, snowdrops should be planted in large numbers. Use them under deciduous trees and shrubs or as edging in beds and borders. These lively winter plants are also great for rock gardens and naturalize quite easily in woodland settings too. Winter aconite makes a good growing companion for snowdrops. Snowdrops do not make good container plants.
Snowdrops Flower Care
Snowdrops should be divided and replanted every other year to prevent overcrowding. If they become overcrowded, snowdrops will not flower.
Although snowdrops are generally pest and disease free, in overly wet sites, the bulbs are prone to rotting.