“ Also known as Galanthus. The common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is the best-known representative of a small genus of about 20 species in the family Amaryllidaceae that are among the first bulbs to bloom in spring. Snowdrops should not be confused with their relatives Snowflakes, Leucojum species; leucojums are much larger and flower in spring (or early summer, depending on the species), with all six petals in the flower the same size, though it should be noted that some poculiform (slipper-shaped) Galanthus can have inner segments similar in length to the outer ones. „
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Snowdrops are a cheerful and heart warming sight after the bleak long days of winter and they tell us spring is on the way. They usually come into flower during February, but can flower in January depending upon where you live in the country and weather conditions. They remain in flower throughout February and March. The botanical and Latin name for snowdrops is Galanthus meaning milky white flowers, but they have been known as Candlemas Bells and Maids in February. It seems so remarkable that these delicate little white flowers can be so hardy, they will flower through snow quite happily. There are many varieties of snowdrops, some can be slightly less hardy but those with double flowers, heart shaped green markings or open flowers can look very pretty. Where I live in Wales snowdrops grow abundantly in hedgerows and in beautiful large drifts within woodland areas. I have never had to buy snowdrop bulbs because they are rampant throughout my garden so it is more a matter of keeping them in check. Once you have snowdrop bulbs in your garden they will multiply and eventually become a large swathe. Snowdrops are easy to lift and divide either very early in the year as recommended by Dan Pearson or when the leaves are dying back during late spring. Simply dig up an existing clump making sure there is plenty of depth of soil so as not to damage bulb roots and then break into smaller sections. Replant each new clump with plenty of leaf mould and water in well. Snowdrops thrive in semi-shade areas and do not like dry soil conditions. They are rarely troubled by pests and diseases as they grow so early in the season. The leaves when dying back can be left to rot down naturally unlike Narcissus leaves which tend to flop across over plants and can look untidy. With their white bell shaped flowers snowdrops are a very pretty and uplifting sight, we must continue to treasure them growing in the wild and also enjoy them in our gardens and parks. Enjoy the spring! © Lunaria 2012
My favorite season has to be the spring and one of my favorite plants the snowdrop that heralds its arrival. Snowdrops or Galanthus, to give them their proper name were first introduced into the UK in the 16th century. They are often thought of as a plant native to these shores but are in fact found in most parts of Europe. Snowdrops are perennial flowering plants and flower between January and April depending on the variety. There are at least 20 different types of snowdrop from the most common to some very rare and expensive plants. All Snowdrops have lovely bright green leaves and snow white flowers. They vary in size from about 9 inches to around 5 inches and the flowers can either be very small and single or large and double. Although they look very delicate Snowdrops, once established are fairly hardy and it always amazes me that these delicate little plants can push their heads through frozen ground! In fact this year, following a particularly hard winter I have more Snowdrops in my garden than for many years. Although they are labeled as hardy, Snowdrops can be a bit tricky to get established. I would urge you never, ever to consider taking wild Snowdrops as this puts the future of the plant in danger. It is best to buy bulbs that have not been stored for too long and to plant as soon as possible. Snowdrops bulbs don't like getting too warm so take care how they are stored. I plant new bulbs in the autumn and water well. Snowdrops like moist soil with plenty of humus compost. These are a woodland plant and prefer partial shade. They don't do well when planted too near large trees with an established root system. It is best to buy several bulbs rather than a single bulb as Snowdrops like to grow in clusters. Once established you can transplant Snowdrops fairly simply. Dig around your snowdrops and remove a few clumps. Then divide the clumps carefully and remove the flower heads. Then dig a good sized hole, fill with compost and plant. It Is important to water well as Snowdrops like moist soil. If you don't have a garden then a walk in any woodland should reveal carpets Snowdrops at their best. If you have a garden then I would encourage you to think about planting Snowdrops. I absolutely love these delicate little plants as they not only look beautiful but remind me that spring really is only just around the corner!
Although spring has passed theres still time to get your snowdrop bulbs in the ground ready for next year. Snowdrop bulbs can be planted right up to the end of September so if you are thinking of starting a garden then this is one plant worth considering. Not only does it flower early in the spring but to me the Snowdrop marks the end of the winter, when I see the snowdrops up I know that it wont be too long before the weather starts to get better and the summer will be on its way. There are different types of Snowdrop you can plant and these can be bought from the garden centre in nets for around £2.50. At boot sales or in garden shops after the summer you can often find nets of snowdrop bulbs on offer at a really low price. You can get autumn flowering varieties but its usually the white early spring varieties which are the ones seen most in gardens and at the road sides. The snowdrop will grow in any good soil, they also grow well in grass and its nice to see snowdrops popping up in little clusters around the lawns of some houses as your passing. They brighten up the wintery days and seem to signal the coming spring. You can also grow them in pots but you might find that they dont last as long as when they are in the ground, I have no ideal why this seems to be the case but if you havent a garden you can get a little bloom of snowdrops in a large pot to brighten up your patio or window box. There are a few varieties to choose from. Galanthus Elwesii as it is known is slightly larger than the snowdrop we see in spring, its flowers are still white but the inner segments are a rich green colour. The G.Ikarie which flowers in March also has white flowers but these are more glossy than the other varieties. The one we all know is the G. Nivalis, other known as the Common Snowdrop or Old English snowdrop and this has little white flowers. This will double if left in the ground so that the year after flowering you will have double the amount of flowers than last year. This makes it a good variety to plant and to forget about, its low maintenance and you if you plant it in the right place and dont want to move it the year after it will come up year after year doubling in amounts of blooms each year. There are a few other varieties to look for and you will be able to find them at the garden centres, the names of the bulbs will be written on the little sacks for purchase, quite often you will get a picture of the bloom on the pack which gives you more of an idea of what you will be getting. For me the Snowdrop is on of the best plants around, it has great significance marking the end of winter and ever since I was little I can remember looking out for the first Snowdrop in the garden, then the thrill of seeing one cheers me up as I know that soon the weather will be warmer and the days will be longer. Barbecues, Relaxing, Holidays and everything good which follows the winter blues. Have fun x