Height 10-18cm (4-7in)
Planting distance 5-15cm (2-6in)
Flowers mid winter to early spring
Bulbs available in early and mid autumn
The delicate, drooping whiteof the snowdrop are always a welcome sight in spring. As natural plants of mountain and woodland, they thrive under cool moist conditions. They look most effective planted in drifts beneath deciduous trees to flower among the fallen brown leaves.
Galanthus elwesii has larger flowers than the common snowdrop, with deep green on the inner petals. The flowers appear in late winter and early spring on stems 15-18cm (4-7in) high. Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop native to Britain, flowers from mid winter onwards. Its height varies from 10-l5cm (4-6in), depending on growing conditions, reaching its tallest in rich soil in partial shade. Single and double-flowered forms are available as well as a named variety, ‘S. Arnott’, with large scented flowers on 25cm (10in) high stems.
Plant in early autumn, 5-10cm (2-4in) deep – 5-7.5cm (2-3in) apart for G. nivalis and 10-20cm (4-8in) apart for G. elwesii. They do best in heavy, moist loam in a shady site with a northerly aspect. Snowdrops can be difficult to establish, but once started they need little attention.
Divide clustered plants at, or just after, flowering time. Lift and divide carefully so that each bulb is separated with its roots and leaves intact. Replant immediately at the same depth.
Pests and diseases
Stem and bulb eelworms may invade the bulbs, and grey mould can affect the leaves and stalks, destroying them as the growth spreads.