“ Also known as Galanthus. The common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is the best-known representative of a small genus of about 20 species in the family Amaryllidaceae that are among the first bulbs to bloom in spring. Snowdrops should not be confused with their relatives Snowflakes, Leucojum species; leucojums are much larger and flower in spring (or early summer, depending on the species), with all six petals in the flower the same size, though it should be noted that some poculiform (slipper-shaped) Galanthus can have inner segments similar in length to the outer ones. „
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Snowdrops are a cheerful and heart warming sight after the bleak long days of winter and they tell us spring is on the way. They usually come into flower during February, but can flower in January depending upon where you live in the country and weather conditions. They remain in flower throughout February and March. The botanical and Latin name for snowdrops is Galanthus meaning milky white flowers, but they have been known as Candlemas Bells and Maids in February.
It seems so remarkable that these delicate little white flowers can be so hardy, they will flower through snow quite happily. There are many varieties of snowdrops, some can be slightly less hardy but those with double flowers, heart shaped green markings or open flowers can look very pretty.
Where I live in Wales snowdrops grow abundantly in hedgerows and in beautiful large drifts within woodland areas. I have never had to buy snowdrop bulbs because they are rampant throughout my garden so it is more a matter of keeping them in check. Once you have snowdrop bulbs in your garden they will multiply and eventually become a large swathe.
Snowdrops are easy to lift and divide either very early in the year as recommended by Dan Pearson or when the leaves are dying back during late spring. Simply dig up an existing clump making sure there is plenty of depth of soil so as not to damage bulb roots and then break into smaller sections. Replant each new clump with plenty of leaf mould and water in well.
Snowdrops thrive in semi-shade areas and do not like dry soil conditions. They are rarely troubled by pests and diseases as they grow so early in the season. The leaves when dying back can be left to rot down naturally unlike Narcissus leaves which tend to flop across over plants and can look untidy.
With their white bell shaped flowers snowdrops are a very pretty and uplifting sight, we must continue to treasure them growing in the wild and also enjoy them in our gardens and parks.
Enjoy the spring!
© Lunaria 2012
Although spring has passed theres still time to get your snowdrop bulbs in the ground ready for next year. Snowdrop bulbs can be planted right up to the end of September so if you are thinking of starting a garden then this is one plant worth considering.
Not only does it flower early in the spring but to me the Snowdrop marks the end of the winter, when I see the snowdrops up I know that it wont be too long before the weather starts to get better and the summer will be on its way.
There are different types of Snowdrop you can plant and these can be bought from the garden centre in nets for around £2.50. At boot sales or in garden shops after the summer you can often find nets of snowdrop bulbs on offer at a really low price.
You can get autumn flowering varieties but its usually the white early spring varieties which are the ones seen most in gardens and at the road sides.
The snowdrop will grow in any good soil, they also grow well in grass and its nice to see snowdrops popping up in little clusters around the lawns of some houses as your passing. They brighten up the wintery days and seem to signal the coming spring.
You can also grow them in pots but you might find that they dont last as long as when they are in the ground, I have no ideal why this seems to be the case but if you havent a garden you can get a little bloom of snowdrops in a large pot to brighten up your patio or window box.
There are a few varieties to choose from.
Galanthus Elwesii as it is known is slightly larger than the snowdrop we see in spring, its flowers are still white but the inner segments are a rich green colour.
The G.Ikarie which flowers in March also has white flowers but these are more glossy than the other varieties.
The one we all know is the G. Nivalis, other known as the Common Snowdrop or Old English snowdrop and this has little white flowers. This will double if left in the ground so that the year after flowering you will have double the amount of flowers than last year. This makes it a good variety to plant and to forget about, its low maintenance and you if you plant it in the right place and dont want to move it the year after it will come up year after year doubling in amounts of blooms each year.
There are a few other varieties to look for and you will be able to find them at the garden centres, the names of the bulbs will be written on the little sacks for purchase, quite often you will get a picture of the bloom on the pack which gives you more of an idea of what you will be getting.
For me the Snowdrop is on of the best plants around, it has great significance marking the end of winter and ever since I was little I can remember looking out for the first Snowdrop in the garden, then the thrill of seeing one cheers me up as I know that soon the weather will be warmer and the days will be longer. Barbecues, Relaxing, Holidays and everything good which follows the winter blues.
Have fun x