Growing Galanthus

They arrive early in the spring along with the hellebore, and the crocus, and the few other earliest of the early flowers. They are a gift. They greet us silently and yet there is an audible gasp when their bobbing heads are spotted above the debris.

Oh thank god we’re gonna make it after all saint Mary Tyler Moore the worst is over.

The world is coming alive again. You can stop holding your breath now.

They’re the gift that keeps on giving. Once established, snowdrops naturalize in the garden easily. In fact, it is advised that you give them ample distance when planting to avoid the chore of digging them up and thinning the herd too soon.

What’s more, they are generally quite squirrel-resistant bulbs. In a garden that is under daily siege by a pack of rambunctious black squirrels, I do nothing to protect the snowdrop bulbs at planting time and yet I’ve never once found a half-eaten bulb unearthed. The tulips, on the other hand, are another story entirely.

This fall, my friend Barry gifted me with a generous pot of snowdrop bulbs culled from his garden. They are probably Galanthus nivalis; however, Barry hovers on the edge of galanthogeekery and has populated his garden with a wonderful array of varieties that extend from simple single flowers, to fluffy doubles, and everything in between. I can’t wait to see what comes up.

This is the pot that Barry gave me full of snowdrop bulbs. They are sitting in slightly moist coir (coconut fibre).

Compost any bulbs that have rotted, desiccated, or gone mouldy.

    How to Plant Snowdrops

    When: Plant bulbs in the fall, before the soil has frozen.

    Exposure: Bright, but protected. I have a mostly sun-exposed garden and plant mine where they will receive bright sun in the early spring, but are protected by larger perennials through the summer months.

    Soil: Well-draining.

    Depth: 2-3 inches in heavy soil. Deeper in sandy soil. I plant mine about 4 inches deep in sandy soil.

    Spacing: Best to give them ample space as they naturalize quickly. About 3″ apart. I plant smaller, less-mature bulbs a little bit closer.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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