Galanthus nivalis

The best time to plant snowdrops is in the autumn or spring.

In October or November, Snowdrops can be successfully planted as bulbs, and if the weather prevents planting, then bulbs should be stored in a cool shady place until things improve. Stored carefully in this way, most snowdrop bulbs should keep for at least a week or more. It is important however that bulbs are not allowed to dry out.

For pricing details and further information about our snowdrop bulbs please

Snowdrops in February

Snowdrops can also be established by planting “in the green” in springtime. This is when snowdrops are lifted immediately after flowering, complete with their leaves and decaying flowers. They can then be transplanted into their new flowering positions. This method is normally very successful if carried out in March.

For pricing details and further information about our “in the green snowdrops” please

Some gardeners prefer the “in the green” method which is normally very successful. In our experience, autumn planting can be an equally good time, although problems can occasionally arise if the bulbs are allowed to dry out before planting. With an autumn planting, flowers can be expected the following spring and the cost of bulbs tend to be a little less than ‘in the green’ plants. The planting process can however be a little more time consuming than “in the green”.

We specialize in the supply of the native snowdrops galanthus nivalis and can supply as bulbs in October or ‘in the green’ plants in March. All our Snowdrop bulbs are supplied freshly lifted to give great results.

For more advice about when and how to grow snowdrops please

How to Plant and Grow Snowdrops

Snow drops can be planted at different times of the year.

In the autumn Snowdrops bulbs are on sale ready for planting, which is the cheapest method to acquire Snowdrops, but not always the most successful. Snowdrops bulbs seem to be harder to get going than other bulbs. Few suppliers will give an assurance that the bulbs are freshly lifted. Bulbs which have been in garden centres and hanging around for some time can dry out, which make them more difficult to grow. Buying Snowdrops in the green, avoids this problem and can be more successful, although more expensive.

Snowdrops sold in pots during the winter can be planted out into the garden and this is a good way of getting them going. Growing Snowdrops in containers permanently is not ideal because as with all container-grown plants, they will be more prone to drying out which is fatal for Snowdrops.

Probably the best time to plant Snowdrops is in the spring, when they are planted “in the green” which is usually after flowering but whilst still in leaf around March time. This is not as cheap as bulbs, but less expensive than buying Snowdrops ready to bloom in containers and is a good way of getting Snowdrops established.

If planting either as established plants or in the green, plant to the same depth. This means planting so that the white part of the stem is underground. Given that they flower during January -February, the best time to buy Snowdrop plants is in March and April and plant out straight away.

Dormant bulbs can be planted in the summer, bulbs are always cheaper than plants but less reliable. The risk with bulbs, and especially so for Snowdrops, is drying out. A moist soil and a mulch of leaf mould is a good growing medium. In addition, squirrels like the Snowdrop bulbs as well.

Galanthus spp.

Are you pining for spring? Try growing Galanthus flowers. More commonly called snowdrops, they are some the first to bloom in the late winter and early spring. They require almost no maintenance and can be grown in soil of nearly any pH level. They are deer and rabbit resistant and can fill in shady areas where many ground covers cannot grow.

Their snowy, nodding heads appear during the last frozen days of winter, often in the company of other early-bloomers like hellebores and crocuses, to herald the approach of spring.

Here’s what’s ahead in this article:

What is Galanthus?

Galanthus or snowdrop flowers is a genus of 20 closely related species of bulbous perennial herbaceous plants that belong to the Amaryllidaceae family that includes alliums, amaryllis, and daffodils. They are native to southern Europe, the Middle East, and Eurasia to include Turkey and Iran. The plants are known for their early blooming white drooping bell shaped flowers that often push up through the snow. Each flower features six petaloids in two whorls with the inner petals having green splotches of varying size.

Snowdrop are a woodland flower suitable for planting in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7. They thrive underneath trees and shrubs in full winter sun and the filtered rays of early spring. The ideal soil for these plants is organically rich, moist, and well-draining.

The white blossoms of this charmer have inner petals that are accented with what look like tiny green upside-down hearts. The kids in our family love to spot them in a snowy landscape.

Galanthus is often confused with snowflakes Leucojum and Acis which are closely related genera within the same tribe (Galantheae).

Cultivation and History

Snowdrops were first described by the classical Greek author, Theophrastus, in the fourth century BC in his “Historia plantarum, Enquiry into Plants.” It wasn’t until 1753 that they were named Galanthus by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist and zoologist.

Despite being thought of as a quintessential British flower, it was likely introduced in the 16th century. Today, the flowers have naturalized in most of Europe and much of temperate North America.


Galanthus spreads by two methods: dropping seed, and generating bulb offsets. You may divide bulb perennials as desired to thin them out, pot them up, or share with friends. It is recommended to thin out every three years.

To do this, use your trowel to dig straight down about five inches around the clump you wish to remove. Gently ease your trowel underneath to release its grip on the earth, and pull it up. Move this clump directly to a new location, or pot it up to share with friends.

How to Grow

This is an easy-care perennial, and planting bulbs in groups to encourage the formation of clumps is recommended. Over the years, they will naturalize to form large drifts of blossoms that breathe life into the wintry landscape.

I like to tuck a few handfuls in unlikely places, near a garden gate or the front steps, to surprise visitors to my home with an early sign of spring.

Plant in the spring or fall. Work the soil to a crumbly consistency and make holes about three inches deep.

Place one bulb in each hole with the pointed top facing up. Allow about three inches between each, and sow in groups of 10 or more.

Depending upon your soil conditions as determined by soil testing, you may incorporate some bone meal or your chosen fertilizer into the earth at this time. By the second year, maturity should bring blossoms. Be patient – it’s worth the wait!

After blooming, allow the foliage to die off on its own. While it remains green, it will continue to provide nourishment to ensure beautiful flowers next season. When it withers, you may remove it or let the other plants in the garden grow over it.

Cheery Indoor Containers

In addition to sowing in the garden, snowdrop grows well in containers with good drainage holes. Start in February to force bulbs to bloom indoors. Place them side by side, planted three inches deep with their points facing up, in potting medium mixed with a little bone meal or fertilizer.

Set your pot in a cool cellar or enclosed porch to mimic the chill of winter. Once you see foliage, bring it indoors and set it in a location that receives filtered, indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist and wait for the blossoms!

You may also try container cultivation outdoors, but remember that pots dry out and freeze at faster than the ground. Choose a sheltered southern or western location, and be vigilant about watering and drainage.

Bulbs that don’t get enough moisture may wither, and those that become saturated may rot. Also, pots that don’t drain well may fill with water, freeze, and crack.

Toxicity Warning

Galanthus is poisonous when ingested. Be careful when growing around pets and young children. Skin irritation has also been reported and gloves should be used when handling.

Growing Tips:

  • Ideally, snowdrops should be planted when the foliage is still green (“in the green”) in the late spring.
  • The bulbs are very susceptible to drying out and should be bought (or dug) and planted immediately.
  • Plant in a partly shaded location in well-draining but moist soil. Woodland edges or areas with tall shrubs and other perennials are ideal locations. As the spring transitions to summer, their leaves fade away and leave space for summer bloomers to shine.
  • Avoid heavy clay soils with poor drainage as the winter freeze may damage bulbs.
  • The plant is tolerant of many pH levels and can be planted in areas such as acidic pine forests (“blueberry land”) as well as more alkaline locations where deciduous trees and shrubs do well.
  • Incorporate compost and top with compost or leaf mold to guard against summer drought. These are very hardy plants but they are not drought tolerant.

Care and Maintenance

Very little care is required once you have a mature mass of Galanthus. It should multiply on its own and it blooms best when its a little crowded. Divide clumps once every three years or so.

Cultivars to Select

As a perennial, snowdrop is a sound investment that returns bigger and better each year. And with the ability to generate new clumps that may be relocated, you can enjoy an excellent bang for your buck.

The trick is to start with quality plants, so here are two you can count on:

Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis is the most common variety and grows to around 3–6 inches (7–15 cm) tall, and blooms between January and May in the temperate regions in the northern hemisphere.

Galanthus Nivalis Bulbs

This type has smaller blossoms and a light fragrance and is hardy to Zone 3.

G. nivalis is available from Burpee and each package contains 25 bulbs.

Galanthus elwesii

This variety, also called the giant snowdrop, boasts the largest, most fragrant blossoms. It has been known to reach a foot in height, and is hardy to Zone 3.

Galanthus Elwesii Bulbs

It is native to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine, Turkey and much of the eastern Mediterranean. The center of the flowers also feature a green blotch, making it visually striking and a bit different than most of its other relatives.

G. elwesii is available from Burpee in packages of twenty-five bulbs.

Managing Pests and Disease

Snowdrops have no serious insect or disease problems and are deer and rabbit resistant due to the toxicity of their vegetation.

Squirrels may occasionally forage dry bulbs and gray mold can be a problem during mild winters. Damping off can occasionally affect seedlings in areas with too much moisture and poor drainage.

Quick Reference Growing Chart

Plant Type: Perennial bulb Flower / Foliage Color: White flowers with blue-green foliage
Native To: Southern Europe, Middle East, Mediterranean, Eurasia Maintenance: Low.
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 3-8 Tolerance: Tolerates frost and freezing and are deer resistant
Bloom Time / Season: Late winter, early spring Soil Type: Rich in organics
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade Soil pH: Acidic through alkaline
Time To Maturity: 2-4 years Soil Drainage: Well-drained
Spacing: 3 inches apart Companion Planting: Viburnum, crocus, daffodil, hosta
Planting Depth: 3-4 inches deep Uses: Mass plantings, borders, under story ground cover.
Height: 3-7 inches for common varieties Family: Amaryllidaceae
Growth Rate: Divide bulbs every 3 years Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Water Needs: Keep moist Tribe: Galantheae
Attracts: Bees and other pollinators Genus: Galanthus
Pests & Diseases: No serious insect or disease problems – gray mold and damping off may attack plants that are in locations with poor drainage.

Chill-Defying Blooms

Are you ready to make snowdrop an integral part of your pre-spring landscape?

Photo by Lorna Kring.

In addition to the fact that it’s pretty, hardy, rabbit and deer-resistant, and naturalizes readily, the Galanthus genus has a natural immunity to juglone toxicity. This means you’ve finally found a plant to grow beneath your black walnut trees!

Order your bulbs in time for fall or spring planting, and enjoy gardens full of life that defy the chill of winter.

Are you eager to add this plant to your landscape? What are some of your other early-season favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to check out our other articles on deer-resistant plants and gardening tips, including:

  • Dear Deer, Leave My Trees Alone
  • Tips to Keep Deer Out of the Garden
  • How to Build Your Own DIY Deer Fence


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Photo by Lorna Kring © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee. Uncredited photos via . First published January 30th, 2019. Last updated: January 13, 2020 at 23:29 pm.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

What makes snowdrops flowering superstars?

Snowdrops are one of the very first flowers that grabbed my attention as a child.

I like my snowdrops single and wild

Aged just seven or eight, I remember clumps of them speckling a woodland floor on the farm, and over the next few years I even began to note the date on which they first flowered. The snowdrops are still there flowering their hearts out to bring in the new floral year.

Although we don’t know whose hand it was that carried the first snowdrop bulb to Britain from Europe, we do know they were being cultivated in British gardens in 1597, the same year that Shakespeare bought his largest house in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Given the growing enthusiasm for naturalists to record wild flowers from this time onward, it’s remarkable that such a prominent plant was not recorded in the wild for another 181 years.

But once the leap over the garden wall had been made, snowdrops spread quickly – probably assisted by deliberate planting – and they can now be found in nearly three quarters of all 10km squares in Britain and Ireland.

Snowdrops were once called Candlemass Bells. As a symbol of purity and light they were brought into churches on 2nd February – Candlemass Day – a Christian feast that commemorates the ritual purification of Mary forty days after the birth of Jesus. It also marks a more ancient festival celebrating the middle of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. Even today, churchyards are often full of snowdrops, planted to supply flowers for Candlemass.

Snowdrop superstars

After flowering, snowdrop stems flop down and the seed pods develop on the surface of the soil.

Each seed has a small oil and protein-rich appendage called an elastiome. When the seed pods open, these attract ants, which take them down into their nests as food for developing larvae. The seeds themselves remain untouched and, thanks to the ants, are both dispersed to new locations and conveniently planted underground.

However, most snowdrops found in the wild in Britain spread from vegetative division of the bulbs rather than by seed. This is because they originally come from a cultivated sterile clone that is unable to set seed.

Even when other fertile species and varieties are around though, seed production is poor because, unlike back in their native home countries, there are few pollinating insects around in January and February to fertilise the flowers in Britain.

But these floral superstars are well adapted to life in the cold.

Their leaves have specially hardened tips to help them break through frozen soil and their sap contains a form of antifreeze to prevent ice crystals forming. On very cold mornings, clumps will flop down as the water is ‘frozen’ inside the cells, but soon perk up again once temperatures rise and the sap can flow again.

Snowdrops also contain an alkaloid, galanthamine, which is licensed for use in the management of mild and moderate cases of Alzheimer’s disease in various countries, especially Eastern Europe and Russia. It is a compound that is also obtained from the closely-related flowers daffodil and snowflake.

There are currently 20 different species of snowdrop recognised in the wild. The most recent addition to the list is Panjutin’s snowdrop (Galanthus panjutinii), which was only formally described in 2012.

Snowdrops certainly capture the imagination but for some, the so-called Galanthophiles, they become an all-consuming passion, with the tiniest variation in form, shape and colour celebrated in a myriad of named forms and hybrids.

Many of these – with their double flowers, oversized petals and blotches of green or yellow – are undeniably attractive, but for me they take something of simple beauty and turn it into an exclusive and unaffordable obsession.

I like my snowdrops single and wild.

Want to know more? Then visit Plantlife’s website and if you see any snowdrops and want to help record and view seasonal events, why not submit your sighting to Nature’s Calendar.

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(Galanthus nivalis)

Snow drops are a particular spring favourite for Irish gardeners and there is no better sight than an array of snowdrops in your garden in late winter and early spring. Their nodding white bells mark the end of winter.

Be patient – snowdrops can take 2-4 years to become established and grow to flowering size.

Snowdrops are as hardy as they are beautiful and will sprout and blossom even through snow and frost, hence their name.

When should it be grown?

  • The best time to plant snowdrop bulbs is in the early autumn
  • Plant freshly lifted snowdrop plants in late spring, when they have stopped flowering but the leaves are still green.
  • Sow the snowdrop bulbs in groups of 10-25 in a hole 3-4 inches deep and 3 inches apart.
  • Add compost and mix the soil. Plant the snowdrops with the skinny nose looking up to the sky.
  • Snowdrops usually flower in January or February but they can bloom earlier than this and in a cold year may not flower until March.

Where should it be grown?

  • Any garden can accommodate snowdrops
  • When planting snowdrop bulbs, look for moist soil and shaded areas such as amongst shrubs and trees with plenty of organic matter.
  • Avoid areas that have dry soil or don’t have any shade.
  • Snowdrops take a year or two to become established and form impressive drifts.
  • They don’t need much looking after and are best left alone.

Dividing snowdrops

  • It’s a good idea to regularly divide your snowdrop clumps, ideally every second year. This will reduce the competition between plants so they grow better.
  • The best time to divide snowdrops is in early spring – just after the flowers have faded but the leaves are still green. Just lift each clump gently with a garden fork and use your hands to tease apart the individual plants. Transplant them to their new location as soon as possible. You may find seedlings starting to grow around the parent plant – you can transplant these as well.
  • Snowdrops are so easy to divide once they are established and they make great gifts

Are there any particular varieties that are most suitable in Ireland

  • Any type will grow well in Ireland. You will occasionally find them growing wild in Ireland but this is a rare sight.

Any other additional tips?

  • Allow snowdrop foliage to wither and die rather than to cut it.
  • Once planted snowdrops can be left alone and no amount of overcrowding affects them.
  • If you have squirrels in your garden, consider planting snowdrop plants rather than bulbs because they have a habit of digging them up.

The Snowflake Fairy

Robed in white comes Snowflake Fairy, braving wintry winds and ice, pearly “Maid of February,” whom the glistening frosts entice. Gladly welcome Snowflake Fairy, on your terrace give her room. She alone in February braves the cold to shed her bloom. —Elizabeth Gordon

What can give us more hope that the end of winter is near than to see the young shoots of snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) emerging from the frost-covered ground? We can be well assured that spring is just around the corner by the very sight of their blooms standing out against the melting snow or brown earth. Often the first bulbs to bloom, snowdrops are not only beautiful, but easy to grow.

Snowdrops are in the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), and there are only a dozen cultivated species, mostly native to the deciduous woodlands of Europe and western Asia. Snowdrops are often confused with snowflakes (Leucojum spp.), to which they are closely related. Snowflakes are not only later-blooming but also much larger. Although both plants have white, bell-like flowers with green-tipped segments, the snowdrop has green tips only on the inner flower segments; the three larger outer segments are unmarked.

Woodland settings are ideal for snowdrops, and they will return year after year if given winter low temperatures that reach at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but no colder than 30 degrees below zero. Snowdrops are equally effective whether they are naturalized in large masses, tucked in small pockets in rock gardens, or grown in colonies under early spring-flowering shrubs.

Snowdrops can be easily forced indoors as well. In the fall, plant four bulbs 1 inch deep in a 4-inch pot. Put the pots in a cold frame, unheated greenhouse, or refrigerator, where the temperature range is between 35 and 43 degrees. Approximately 10 to 12 weeks later, check to see if buds have developed. If so, bring them into a cool, bright indoor spot, making sure the compost does not dry out.

For outdoor displays, plant bulbs as soon as they are available in the fall. Place in a sunny or semi-shady site, in moist soil with a large proportion of humus. The site should be well drained, with a neutral to alkaline pH level. Set bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep and 2 to 3 inches apart, or scatter them for a more naturalized look. Water regularly when they are in bloom. Little fertilizing is needed. When flowering has finished, let the leaves dies back naturally. The leaves continue to produce food for next season’s bulbs.

Snowdrop bulbs can remain undisturbed for many years and will multiply by themselves; however, they also can be propagated by division. The best time to move or divide snowdrops is when they have just finished flowering. Lift the bulbs and the soil around them so as not to disturb the roots, and replant immediately in sections of no fewer than four or five bulbs. Be sure the newly transplanted bulbs receive a thorough watering.

The following two species are the most readily available from retail outlets, and there are fine displays of these in the Graham Bulb Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden:

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

This species has 1/4-inch, blue-green leaves and 6- to 9-inch stems that support a single flower, 1 inch in diameter. Flowering from January to March, the common snowdrop blooms slightly earlier than the giant snowdrop. Native to almost all of Europe, it can be found growing in woods and by streams. Among the choicest varieties are ‘Atkinsii’, which is very early blooming, and ‘Flore Pleno’, which is double-flowered.

“In mild winters, these can be found in bloom in late January, but more typically in February and March in the Chicago area, well ahead of any other bulbs,” said Dr. Jim Ault, director of ornamental plant research. The white, bell-shaped flowers are a sure sign that spring is not far off.

Giant snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii)

As its common name implies, this species has relatively large flowers that are 1 1/2 inches long and borne singularly on 6- to 12-inch long stems. The basal leaves are 8 inches long and 3/4-inch wide. Flowering from February to April, this species withstands hot weather better than G. nivalis. Native to Yugoslavia, Romania, the Ukraine, Greece, and western Turkey, the giant snowdrop prefers scrublands and woods.

How to spread your snowdrops


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One of the earliest spring flowers to blossom, the snowdrop flower is always a welcome sight that pepper the countryside with their delicate, white heads. Flowering from January to March, snowdrops vary in height, size and shape but never differ in their beauty.

Do you have any in your garden? We spoke to RHS chief horticulturist, Guy Barter, to find out how to keep these flowering favourites healthy for longer. Here are his top ten snowdrop gardening tips:

1. Strictly speaking, snowdrops are probably best lifted and divided as the foliage dies back, just before they disappear underground and become hard to find. They resent becoming desiccated so must be planted quickly after lifting.

RHS/Tim Sandall

2. Dried out snowdrop bulbs are notoriously hard to establish, but newly lifted bulbs can be stored in trays of moist, peat-free potting medium until late August, where re-planting straight away is not possible.

RHS/ Tim Sandall

3. Lifting and dividing while in leaf, ideally after flowering, is more convenient and less likely to be overlooked than waiting for the ideal moment. This is generally in May when there are so many other matters to distract the gardener.

4. Snowdrops spread quite fast so it is worthwhile dividing clumps every few years to increase their rate of multiplication. Divide into clusters of three to five bulbs if you are pressed for time and singling bulbs will take too long.

RHS/ Tim Sandall

5. Gardeners who are in a hurry to have lots of snowdrops, but don’t want excessive expenses, can master the rather technical art of ‘twin-scaling’. This is where bulbs are cut into several, two-scale segments and induced to form numerous little bulblets on the base of the scales, in a bag of damp vermiculite.

6. The leaves are vital to build up the bulbs’ food reserves and allow new daughter bulblets to form, so never trim or tie into bunches.

RHS/ Tim Sandall

7. Snowdrops are not hungry plants but applying a potassium-rich general fertiliser at about 50g per square metre in winter is helpful.

8. Wisley gardeners favour growing their potted snowdrops in John Innes No. 2 type potting media with up to 30% volume of coarse grit. Repotting should happen every two to three years. Tomato feed, rich in potassium, is used once in spring, to get the bulbs off to a good start and again after flowering. In fact, it is probably worth watering particularly precious bulbs in beds and borders with this fertiliser at the same time.

RHS/ Tim Sandall

9. Make sure to stop your pots from freezing in winter or getting too hot in summer. We ‘plunge’ (bury up to the rim) potted snowdrops into a bed of damp coarse sand that keeps root temperature equable. Sand beds should be covered with a cold frame in winter.

10. Snowdrops are relatively trouble-free but where disease occurs a cure is seldom possible. Unfortunately, they must be discarded immediately to reduce the risk to the remaining bulbs.

What is the fastest way to multiply snowdrops?

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Snowdrop (Galanthus)

Snowdrops are tough, reliable plants, generally flowering in the height of winter, often poking their heads above overlying blankets of snow. They are a cheerful sight in the garden, flowering when little else will, marking the height of winter and that the beginning of spring is not far behind.

The graceful, white nodding snowdrop flowers usually have distinctive green markings. These vary from variety to variety, many are multi-petalled and there are probably more different types than you think. Some gardeners become so fanatical about building up collections of all the different ones that they have been christened with the name ‘Galanthophile’ – snowdrop lover!

And not all snowdrops flower in late winter/spring, Galanthus reginae-olgae is an autumn-flowering snowdrop.

How to grow snowdrops


Snowdrops prefer a position in light shade. They grow naturally in woodlands or cool mountain meadows, so need a position that is neither hot nor dry. The dappled shade near trees and shrubs is a perfect position for them, although they also grow brilliantly well among herbaceous perennials. Galanthus nivalis and others can also be naturalised in light grass.

They’re not too fussy about soils types – including heavy clay – but prefer a well-drained, humus-rich, moist soil. When planting in light, sandy soils incorporate lots of bulky organic matter at planting time.

Snowdrop varieties

There are dozens of snowdrop species and varieties. The following are recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society:

  • Galanthus Atkinsii
  • Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus
  • Galanthus Magnet
  • Galanthus nivalis
  • Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus Flore Pleno
  • Galanthus plicatus
  • Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. reginae-olgae
  • Galanthus S. Arnott
  • Galanthus woronowii

Planting snowdrops

Dry snowdrop bulbs planted in autumn often fail to grow or don’t perform very well because they may have dried out too much. Growing them from plants and planting when flowering has finished but they’re still in leaf, called ‘in the green’, is usually a far better method.

Plants sold in the green are often freshly dug up, so the roots have been severed, causing a check in growth. So it is vital to water them in as soon as they are planted to re-establish root contact with the soil. The best method is to buy potted plants – although they are more expensive, they will establish much better.

Always improve the soil with lots of added organic matter, as it is important that the soil doesn’t dry out in summer.

Plant bulbs 10cm (4in) deep and 10cm (4in) apart.

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Flower borders and beds, patios, containers, city and courtyard gardens, cottage and informal gardens, naturalising in grass.

How to care for snowdrops

Snowdrops are easy to look after and rarely need watering when growing in the ground, unless the soil dries out during prolonged dry periods.

Give them a light feed with a granular general plant food after flowering. Watering with a liquid plant food after flowering and until the foliage starts to die down will help build up their strength and size for the following year’s flowering.

Allow the foliage to die down naturally in spring.

If snowdrops have been growing in the same soil for several years and no longer flower profusely, lift them, carefully split them into smaller clumps and replant at the same depth in soil that has had organic material and slow-release feed added.

Flowering season(s)

Spring, Autumn, Winter

Foliage season(s)

Spring, Autumn, Winter


Partial shade

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy

Soil pH


Soil moisture

Moist but well-drained

Ultimate height

Up to 20cm (8in)

Ultimate spread

7.5cm (3in)

Time to ultimate height

3-4 months

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