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Naturalising Snowdrops

Posted on March 22, 2013 in Gardening advice, Latest Stories, Meadows, Snowdrops, Spring and Stories

Freds Giant


In spite of the weather, the main snowdrop season is coming to an end. Now is a good time to make sure you have a fabulous display next year.

To give your snowdrops the best chance of increasing to form patches or drifts it helps if you understand their lifecycle.

In the Summer, a snowdrop bulb is dormant. That is, there is no sign of life, just a bulb. However, inside, the flower and all the information the plant needs for the next year is already formed. (If you want to see this for real, try slicing through a bulb)  Throughout the  Spring the leaves and roots have been drawing up nutrients to achieve this. This means that its main time for stocking up for next year comes just after it has flowered in February. Logically you don’t want to interfere with this process by breaking roots and damaging leaves. Should you leave the plants and let them die right back before lifting the bulbs and replanting? Sounds a better idea you say, but then summer comes and all is forgotten, you can’t find the bulbs and nothing happens. Anytime between now and June you can still see where your snowdrops are, using their green and yellowing leaves as a guide.  So, if you are a perfectionist mark your bulb’s position now, and dig and split them from June onwards. If you are more like me, do it when you can and when you remember. Galanthus ‘Freds Giant’ shown has had this treatment and is increasing strongly every year.

Either way, make sure you replant immediately. Snowdrops are very forgiving as long as they don’t dry out.

Carefully lift a clump of snowdrops from the ground. You will need a long fork for this job as the bulbs will be much deeper than you think and if you try and do it with a trowel you will end up slicing off the foliage. You will find they are tightly packed together. Gently prise them apart keeping as much of the roots in tact as possible. Dig some deep small holes and put one bulb in per hole spaced about 8” apart. Put a few bulbs back in the hole that they came from. Each bulb will develop small offsets so a single plant has the potential to become a clump. If you want to start a new colony, position your snowdrops in areas under shrubs and trees that get some moisture but are shaded on very hot days.