Ornamental and edible gardening adventures.

Plant this in 2021: Snowdrops for mid-winter blooms

I'm hoping for an early spring this year, and so far, I seem to be getting my wish. The first of the snowdrops are beginning to appear in my back garden. 

Snowdrops, also known as Galanthus, are not only some of the first flowers to appear in the spring, but also have a slightly cult following as well. A few years back I wrote about how snowdrop fervor was bubbling over from the UK and into the U.S. (Click here to read.) They are some of the few plants that will bloom in the middle of winter, providing nodding white bells that stand up to the cold and the snow.

In the past, galanthophiles (lovers of snowdrops) were able to visit blooming collections to see en masse across different locales in the UK. But, as with other previous events in 2020, this year is different thanks to COVID-19.

Luckily, one of this year's UK shows is being moved online. You can view the snowdrops as they begin to bloom at the Garden House in Devon via Facebook or Instagram. Seeing photos of the snowdrops in bloom in the UK is a nice perk for those of us in the United States.

Of course, the other way to view them is to grow them yourself.

Galanthus 'Kite' about to bloom.

How to grow

To grow your own snowdrop garden, the best way to ensure success is to transplant them when they are "in the green," which means that you take bulbs still showing leaves and plant them in your garden before they go dormant. 

Of course, you can also buy them when they are dormant with your other spring-flowering bulbs in the fall (such as daffodils and tulips). But the longer the bulbs are out of the ground and are allowed to dry, the greater the risk that they will dry out too much and not grow the following spring. I've learned this the hard way — in past years where I have planted them too late in the fall, I found that not all grew the following spring. Snowdrops can be a little pricey (some cultivars are priced per bulb), so losing any — even when buying in bulk — can sting. 

I've tried to combat this by buying my snowdrop bulbs early (as soon as your local garden center has them in stock) and planting them within days of bringing them home. 

Plant them in a well-draining soil where they will get plenty of sunshine during their growing season. (This can be areas where the trees will later leaf out.) Be sure to mark them so you do not accidentally dig them up or cut them in half when gardening later in the season when they are dormant. 

For the most impact, plant them in large groups. I'm still working on my "large" groupings of snowdrops, as I add a few each year. I'm hoping that some will colonize in time to form the large clumps that photographers dream of. 

Until then, I am happy with my small, but merry, group, that appear mid-winter to remind me spring is not too far away.

Snowdrops begin to bloom as early as January in my garden, depending on season temperatures.


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A galanthus effort: Covid-hit snowdrop festival moves online

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2 comments

  1. These are very sweet and I understand your working towards a large colony. You are so lucky to be close to "Spring" .. I'm in Ontario, Canada ... and we are experiencing a snow storm .. we have many months ahead yet for winter to have us in it's grip .. but I love seeing pictures of such perfect little jewels .. good luck with establishing a colony of them !

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    1. Thank you! Hang in there - spring will arrive eventually!! :-)

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