INFORMATION ABOUT SNOWFLAKE BULBS…
By: Nikki Phipps
Image by joka2000 Snowflakes (Leucojum) are bulbous perennials with threadlike leaves and nodding, mildly fragrant, bell-shaped flowers. There are about ten species of snowflakes with most being natives of North Africa and Mediterranean regions. Snowflakes prefer full sun but will tolerate some light shade in moist, well-drained soil.
The Snowflake bulbs should be planted about 2-4 inches deep at their appropriate planting times, depending on the particular species. The bulbs of snowflakes multiply freely and can be divided every 3-5 years. Like daffodils, snowflakes look best massed in large clumps.
Although Snowflake plants are generally free of pests, slugs and snails may eat holes in the leaves, strip entire stems, or completely devour seedlings.
Spring snowflake (L. vernum) has broader leaves and shorter flower stalks than the other species, ranging in height from 6-12 inches. This species of snowflake also blooms earlier in the season, as early as February. The drooping, bell-shaped flowers are white with exception to the small, green spots on the ends of each petal. They are best planted in clumps in naturalized areas. People often confuse the spring snowflake with summer or autumn snowflake; however, these each appear in different growing seasons.
One of the easiest and most carefree bulbs you can grow, summer snowflake (L. alstivum) blooms in mid-late spring, rather than summer as its name implies. In fact, in some areas, this flower blooms as early as late winter or early spring. By summer’s arrival or shortly thereafter, these lovely blooms are merely a faint recollection. This species is native to Europe and western Asia and been cultivated as an ornamental in Europe gardens since the 1500s. It should be watered regularly during spring but will tolerate drought in the summer, its dormancy period. Summer snowflake is best planted in the fall and makes a great naturalizing plant for accenting daffodils and tulips; reaching 12-18 inches tall once mature.
Another member of the snowflake family is the autumn snowflake (L. autumnale). This species produces glossy strap-like leaves and up to four leafless, maroon-colored stems housing anywhere from 2-4 white, bell-shaped flowers tinged with pink or red at the base. Autumn snowflake can usually be seen blooming in September. This native of western Europe and northern Africa enjoys naturalizing in meadows and rock gardens or growing in containers.
Mentone snowflake (L. nicaeense), also called winter snowflake, is another interesting species with pink flowers appearing later in the season; however, this one isn’t very hardy.