Snowdrops – the best antidote to winter blues

Imagine your garden full of drifts of pure white snowdrops forcing their way up through snow and frozen ground. Snowdrops are the perfect antidote to the greyness of winter.

The tiny bell shaped flowers of snowdrops with their hint of green never fail to offer a welcome hint of spring that still seems very far away. The common snowdrop Galanthus nivalis is mainly found in shady spots like damp woodlands, grassland, and hedgerows. Many species are very easy to grow and positively thrive in cold weather, producing their own anti-freeze to prevent frost damage.

Snowdrops grow best in cool, dappled shade such as under shrubs, around trees or in grassy areas where they will not be disturbed during summer. Snowdrops should be planted ‘in the green’ that is whilst in full growth, during late winter early spring. Snowdrops planted this way will establish very quickly even if in full flower.

Snowdrop bulbs needs to be planted in a humus rich soil that retains moisture and is well drained but doesn’t dry out in summer. Snowdrop bulbs also appreciate a mulch of leaf mold to help keep them moist. Clumps of snowdrops should be lifted and divided regularly as they do not naturally make the beautiful drifts we so much admire.

This should be done immediately after the snowdrop bulbs have flowered or in late summer and autumn when the bulbs are dormant. Established clumps of snowdrops will easily self-seed although seed sown bulbs may take up to four years to flower. Dormant dry snowdrop bulbs bought in autumn must be planted immediately and may do poorly in their first year. But leave them undisturbed and they will flourish in following years.

Here’s something new and different for lovers of snowdrop bulbs. The double snowdrop Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ makes a big splash in very early spring.