Chionodoxa: Glory-of-the-Snow

Height 10-20cm(4-8in)

Planting distance 5-10cm (2-4in)

Flowers late winter to late spring

Ordinary well-drained garden soil

Sunny or slightly shaded site

Bulbs available in late summer and autumn

Glory-of-the-snow casts swathes of brilliant star-like flowers over the ground from late winter and throughout spring, in northern gardens raising their blue stars above the melting snow. These little plants are among the easiest of bulbs to grow and left to their own devices they will spread and colonize readily. They are ideal for brightening up the rock garden in early spring, for planting at the front of borders and for naturalizing in short grass.

Chionodoxas grow equally well in full sun and light shade and look stunning as a carpet below deciduous shrubs and trees.

Popular species

Chionodoxa gigantea is the tallest member of its genus at 20cm (8in) high. The flower spikes are violet-blue with white centres and appear from late winter to mid spring. ‘Blue Giant’, 15cm (6in) tall, is bright blue with large white centres. Plant 7.5-10cm (3-4in) apart.

Chionodoxa luciliae, the most popular species, has porcelain-blue flowers with white centres, and a pure white form, ‘Alba’, is also available. The variety ‘Pink Giant’ is outstanding, with robust flower spikes of rosy-pink. All flower from late winter to mid spring on stems 15cm (6in) high. Set the bulbs 5-10cm (2-4in) apart. Chionodoxa sardensis is the smallest species, 10-15cm (4-6in) high. Its nodding sky-blue flowers with tiny white centres appear slightly later than the other chionodoxas, from early spring to late spring. Plant 5-10cm (2-4in) apart.

Cultivation

Plant the bulbs as soon as they are available in autumn, setting them 5-7.5cm (2-3in) deep and about 10cm (4in) apart in large groups. They do well in any ordinary well-drained garden soil in a sunny or lightly shaded site. They need little attention apart from removing the foliage as it dies down and lifting and dividing the clumps as they become crowded. Replant the divisions immediately, 10cm (4in) apart.

Propagation

Division is the easiest method, in late spring when the leaves are turning yellow. Many chionodoxas also spread rapidly by self-sown seed; the round seed pods can be gathered in late spring when they are ripe and the seeds sown in an outdoor nursery bed. Transplant the seedlings to their flowering positions during the second summer. Named varieties do not breed true to type from seed and should be propagated from divisions.

Pests and diseases

Slugs sometimes eat the leaves and flowers.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Chionodoxa: Glory-of-the-Snow

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