receipt of your
Snowdrops, whether collected or posted, keep in a cool place until you
are ready to plant them. It is essential to loosen the packaging. If
you are at all concerned about how you find your Snowdrop Order please
get in touch at this stage.
Sometimes parcels can be delayed in the post and Snowdrops are a
delicate item to have been sitting in a post office warehouse.
Planting should be done as soon as possible. Temporarily they can be
put into a pot, but snowdrops prefer to be grown in the ground. It is
best to plant without delay.
FEW NOTES ON
has already be
mentioned that Snowdrops are not a Native to these shores, although
they look so right in woody places.G, nivalis has come across from
other European Countries and is the most common specie Snowdrops, G.
elwesii is a later introduction from Turkey.
Snowdrops are remarkably hardy and flower at a time when most garden
plants await the arrival of warmer weather. Snowdrops seem able to
withstand whatever the weather may be during the winter. For this
reason it is sensible to judge the weather and leave Snowdrop visits to
later in the day to avoid a disappointing trip. Prolonged
spells will naturally check their growth, but it will not be harmful.
Even deluges of rain will not be a problem so long as the soil is not
overlying a poorly drained sub-soil. Despite their delicate appearance
Snowdrops are resilient plants.
Bare earth or sparse grass is more suitable than turf which is
regularly tended once the Snowdrops are no longer in bloom. A lawn is
not ideal – Snowdrops resent being mown and the compaction
resulting from regular rolling does not encourage them to increase.
Snowdrops planted in a lawn may come up, but they will not thrive and
look rather sad. Dense shade is often a problem site but G. nivalis
would be quite happy in such a place and combined with Cyclamen the
effect would be very pretty. The best displays of Snowdrops will be
found where they are left in peace to grow without being
‘gardened,’they will happily dwell beneath
enjoying the leaf litter as it gradually breaks down.
Wild drifts of Snowdrops are a wonderful sight, however most gardeners
do not have woods or orchards in which they can establish such a mass
planting. In the wild Galanthus occur in deciduous woods, here the
trees give summer shade but the flowers enjoy plenty of light in the
winter. Snowdrops are not fussy about soil type, a heavy fertile loam,
with neutral to slightly alkaline properties is fine. They will benefit
from humous-rich materials, but care is really minimal. Natural
plantings beneath trees and shrubs look super and
years will quietly spread. Even in a tiny garden a home can
found for a clump of Snowdrops. As with all ideas of gardening how and
where to grow a plant is a personal choice, but bear in mind the
conditions Snowdrops seem to prefer and introduce a few to your garden.
At this time of year the first glimpse of white is as ever a cheerful
Establishing a drift of Snowdrops will take a while, bear in mind
certain growing requirements listed previously. Also, consider whether
Snowdrops appear in other gardens near yours, this will give an
indication of suitability. Not all soils will be suitable and
occassionally no matter how much effort is made to plant snowdrops they
just will not flourish.
Snowdrops might appear to some to have a fleeting seasonal interest,
but by planting a few G. reginae olgae ssp.reginae olgae (the autumn
flowering forms) then the Flowering span is longer. Autumn flowering
Snowdrops are not as straight forward as the forms we are
and to achieve great clumps is probably an unreality. Simply they are
not that easy and can for some reason grow very well for several
seasons and then go back to almost nothing. If you wish to grow these
Snowdrops remember there requirement for a much drier position, which
is open to the
Dry bulbs obtained in the autumn are not usually the most
successful way of establishing Snowdrops. In this state the
over-extended storage leads to dehydration and the bulbs do not recover
well. Bulbs obtained 'IN THE GREEN' should be fresh looking, not dry in
appearance or showing signs of dying down. Neither should they be
soggy. Slightly dehydrated foliage soon recovers and continues to
develop. Plant the bulbs about 3” down, often a sprinkling of
sharp sand and bonemeal will encourage a good root system. Also some
leaf mould will prove beneficial. As previously mentioned regular
division is advisable; lift the clump when flowering or just after.
Care must be taken not to damage the root hairs or to allow them to dry
out. Sometimes it is a good idea to lift and move to a new position a
clump that has not multiplied.
Untended clumps, particularly the cultivars, deteriorate after a period
of time. A scattering of bonemeal in the autumn is a good idea,
although Snowdrops are not gross feeders. As to the question of growing
Snowdrops in pots – in our experience they do best in the
The environment of a pot can be much to dry and temperatures fluctuate,
these and other factors do not suit
All Snowdrops have a perfume, it is a smell unique to the Galanthus
family and will be accentuated on a warm winters day. Scent is a
feature of most winter flowering plants. Many people will mention G. '
S. Arnott' with it honey scented flowers, but the whole
family have a perfume. A bunch of picked Snowdrops will soon lift their
outer petals in a warm room to release the fragrance peculiar to
The growing and particularly the identifying of Snowdrops is not always
easy. For instance some years G. n. 'Lady Elphinstone' has ordinary
green and not pale, apricot flowers, this can be most
disappointing and sometimes G. 'Straffan' only produces a single flower
The characteristics of Snowdrop are refreshed every February
time is spent admiring how well or otherwise the garden is looking.
Some Snowdrops will increase more quickly than others, this is to be
expected. This is all due to some plants being more vigorous
others, as with all types of plants. Again some soils will be better
for some groups of snowdrops than others – for example yellow
forms seem to grow better on acid soils. Another point to remember is
how newly moved or disturbed bulbs may be smaller than expected
in the first season, but will improve once established.
no flowers will be produced in the first year, disappointing but not
uncommon. They really do grow larger and better in the following years.
With a nursery we find that some Snowdrops are disturbed too often and
so we have to be careful or else they are not allowed to flourish, so
care has to be taken. As previously mentioned in the section for Double
Snowdrops identification is terribly difficult, particularly with Mr.
Greatorex's Hybrid Doubles. Within a clump flowers may not be uniform,
immature, poorly formed flowers will appear as well as perfectly shaped
ones. Also green tips will appear on some flowers one year, but not the
next or even within a group green tips will come to certain flowers but
not others. It can be rather confusing. So the growing of Snowdrops is
not for the faint hearted.
Definite names can not be found for all Snowdrops, they are so
variable, not every plant should be named. Identification can be
tricky, but that is part of the
For those wishing to grow one or two of the less common or GIANT
Snowdrops the following are the best to start a collection:
GAL. 'ATKINSII' , early & slim, a hybrid which will increase
& naturalises readily.It has large pearl drop shaped flowers.
GAL. 'GALATEA', elegant & impressive, the large flower hangs
heavily, J. A. Allen considered it to be a GIANT of the family.
GAL. 'S. ARNOTT' received an Award of Merit in 1957, being tall and
beautifully proportioned, it increases well & is still my
GAL. ELWESII the beauty of the silver leaves makes this a stunning
plant, it is easy to identify & strong growing.
GAL . NIVALIS 'VIRIDAPICIS' a single, well worth closer inspection
by getting on your hands & knees to view the delicate
flush on the outer petals.
Enthusiastic interest in Snowdrops does not appear to wain, what is the
reason for our love of Snowdrops? The question has many replies - They
are the first things to appear on chilly winter days, not minding
frosts or wet. A simple, white flower which just grows itself without
much help from a gardener. They are part of the cycle heralding new
beginnings. A turn around the garden to see what is coming up gets the
gardener out and interested in the changes happening, a positive
stimulus after the decline of Autumn.
These are only a few suggestion so read through this booklet and if
possible look at Snowdrops. Many private gardens now open in late
winter for their displays of Snowdrops so do some research, make some
enquiries and find out a place to visit locally or venture
farther a field. This is the start of the gardening year so don't delay