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Snowdrops how to grow, planting, names of varieties. The Snowdrop.

Updated on December 1, 2013

Snowdrops the First of the Spring Flowers in the Garden

Photo: snowdrops in bloom
Photo: snowdrops in bloom

The first early spring flowers in an English garden are called snowdrops. Snow drops have a fluidity of movement and are curvaceous and delicate looking even though they manage to survive the harsh weather conditions around at the time of year when they flower.

How to grow Snowdrops and facts about planting and growing snowdrops.

  • The name Galanthus means milk flower.

  • In the 1850s soldiers returning from the Crimean War brought back snowdrops with them to plant in their gardens at home .

Growing Snowdrops:

Snowdrops are fully hardy.

Snowdrops prefer some soil types to others. They like a moist soil with plenty of humus. They do not like hot, dry places and prefer part shade which means that snowdrops can be good to plant among shrubs.

The easiest to grow are the ‘common’ single/ double snowdrop or G Atkinsii, a tall variety.

Snowdrops come in lots of different varieties.

  • Planting Snowdrops. They are usually easier to establish if planted in the green (i.e. not as bulbs with no leaves as you plant daffodils etc).
  • Plant snowdrops in small groups.

Every other year or so lift the clump of snowdrops if it is congested and split it into sections or more if it is a large clump. Either replant them in small clumps separately or follow the planting information below.Then next year you will have more snowdrops in flower than this year.

The way to plant snowdrops from existing clumps is to dig up a clump of snowdrops after the flowers have faded. You can plant your snowdrops from clumps in your garden even after the leaves have died back.

  • Shake of the soil from the clump of snowdrops
  • Gently separate the bulbs/bulblets
  • Now replant the bulbs leaving a gap of a few inches or so. You need to plant them about 4-6 inches deep (10-15cm).

The freshly planted snowdrops will benefit from a bit of compost or leaf mould.

Planting snowdrops when purchased in 'the green' you can still follow the above planting information for your snowdrops.

Buying or planting snowdrops 'in the green' is better than buying dry bulbs as you have more chance of having success growing them.

What can be planted near to snowdrops to flower early in the year?

Snowdrops bloom very early in the year so if you wish for a splash of colour near them you options of what to plant close by are limited but it is worth considering winter aconites whose bright yellow blooms tend to put in an early appearance in the garden.

List of some of the varieties of Snowdrops available to grow in the U.K.

  • There are one hundred and fifty cultivars of snowdrop listed in the RHS Plant Finder (RHS is the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK).

The list of snowdrop cultivars continues to grow as new ones are identified.

Snowdrops range from the humble plain white ones with their drooping heads (still my favourites) to the more fancy elaborate varieties with double blooms and flashes of green adorning the white petals.

Your snowdrop planting choice will probably be made by what is available when you want to buy them and will also depend on where you wish to plant them and what other plants are in the area around them.

Here is a list of the names of some snowdrops it includes some of the more 'fancy varieties' of snowdrop.

  • Galanthus. 'John Gray' this is a very pretty one as the small amount of green on the bloom looks like an upside down heart-shape. Its flowers are predominantly white with just a 'smidgen'. of green. This one is a traditional snowdrop shape unlike some of the other snowdrops.
  • Also a traditional snowdrop flower shape is this Galanthus nivalis 'Sandersil'. Which has almost all white flowers with just a touch of yellowy/green and is dainty looking as traditional snowdrops are.
  • Galanthus 'Wendy's Gold is also a snowdrop with yellowy toned markings.
  • Galanthus nivalis ' Viridapice' another dainty looking bloom with the same 'green-heart' effect as G.' John Gray' it also has a small splash of green on the bottom of the petals.
  • Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' is a good one to naturalise. Delicate green markings on double flowers.
  • Galanthus nivalis 'S. Arnott' a sweetly scented snowdrop that grows vigorously.
  • Galanthus Desdemona. This produces the largest of any double snowdrop blooms. A vigorous snowdrop.
  • Galanthus Atkinsii has elongated flowers. Vigorous in habit.

More snowdrop varieties:

  • 'Bill Bishop' which has very long outer petals.
  • 'Cordelia' a taller snowdrop once established this one is a double.
  • 'Dionysus' a double.
  • 'Brenda Troyle' this one has a scent.
  • G.plicatus 'trym' has green markings on the white petals.

If you are looking for a large snowdrop try Galanthus Elwesii.

Some of these varieties may be difficult to find, but you could always look on the RHS web-site to discover if and when they are selling from there gardens.

Beth Chatto gardens might be worth trying too.

Snowdrops flowering in the garden

Photo: snowdrops in flower
Photo: snowdrops in flower

In Praise of the humble Snowdrop.

As the first snowdrops of the year appear in my garden they remind me to look forwards to the coming of springtime.

A flower that braves early March winds, only one will do.

Planted while still in the green and never in straight rows.

She is the queen of February, as my little snowdrop grows.

* The photographs and words on this and my other creative belong to me and therefore they may not be used in anyway without my permission.


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    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 8 years ago

      Timorous I did a google search and snowdrops are rare in Canada and people seem to have difficulty with them if they try to grow them. I think they are sold as 'dry bulbs' like tulips in some countries, here they sell them at this time of year and because they are growing it is called buying them 'in the green'they do not like drying out. Thanks for the comment.

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 8 years ago from Me to You

      Hmm. I'll have to search for these. I don't recall seeing them around here. Nice.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 8 years ago

      I have now added photos of snowdrops to this hub as was suggested in a comment.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 8 years ago

      Thanks for the visit and comment Micky.

      frogyfish is the flower you are thinking of a celandine or winter aconite they are bright yellow, winter aconite blooms early in the year. I think they are used in alternative therapies,not sure about the snowdrop. Thank you frogyfish.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Delightfully simple, and sounds like the hope of spring. And I am trying to remember if Galanthus is also a homeopathic remedy...?

      In this region, narcissus and daffodils portray early spring - after the snows are gone. There is another bright flower that may bloom in snow similar to your snowdrop, but I can't remember what they are - short, small,!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 8 years ago

      Thanks for the snowdrops!

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 8 years ago

      Hi itakins in your comment you have captured exactly what I was trying to do here. I looked out of the window and thought it is raining again another grey day. Then in the border of the garden I saw the white blooms of the snowdrops and they told me I had to focus on the coming spring season not how long the winter had been. Thank you itakins for you intuitive comment.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      this is informative hub. I never see and touch the snow before. because my country has two season. It would be great playing with snow directly. I hope I can go to the country which have snow, someday.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 8 years ago from Irl


      Isn't it so uplifting to see that first snowdrop-they are beautiful.

      Another cheery hub-you do my heart good:)

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 8 years ago

      thank you timorous, you are right I do usually put my own photos into hubs. As soon as I can I will add a photo of my own to this as you suggest. It was too wet and windy here today to take photos outside in the garden so I had to put the idea on hold. Not sure about snowdrops in other countries I am curious about that now.

      Hi Cathi thanks for the read and the comment. Lots of parks and places like abbeys have snowdrop walks at this time of year here. Pleased you liked the poems, thank you.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 8 years ago

      Snowdrops sound like a flower I wold love to have! I hope I can find some. I know they would be a welcome addition to eary spring flowers! Thank you for the poems too!

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 8 years ago from Me to You

      Nice. I can't recall having seen snowdrops before. Perhaps the climate in Canada is just a bit too cold, unless they're planted in a protected area.

      You should have posted your own photos. The links to the two sites were very slow from here. Still..

      The first spring flowers to come out here in Canada are crosus, and daffodil, and fragrant lily-of-the-valley a little later..along with lilac bushes. Ahh..I can smell them now...