Saturday 19 September 2020

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Snowdrops are best planted in early autumn

Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020 2:32pm

Margaret Griffin

The snowdrop is one of the first flowers to dare to show its head in January and February. It’s a low growing flower which is found naturally beside streams, on roadsides and in damp woods.

The best time to plant snowdrop bulbs is now in the early autumn. They can take a few years to grow to flowering size so a little patience will reward you.

The best place to plant snowdrops is a shaded area, with plenty of organic matter. I would normally advise to plant under trees or shrubs. They don't like to dry out, so snowdrops do best in a well-drained soil in light shade, similar to their native woodland habitat.

If you are planting your bulbs in heavy soil, add a little grit to the planting hole to improve drainage.

Once planted you can leave snowdrops alone. Do not cut back after flowering as this is the feed for the bulb next year.

The leaves are vital to build up the bulbs' food reserves and allow new daughter bulblets to form, so never trim or tie into bunches.

Snowdrops spread quite fast, so it is worthwhile dividing clumps every few years to increase their rate of multiplication.

Divide into clusters of three to five bulbs and replant in another area of your garden or in a pot. The best time to divide snowdrops is in early spring just after the flowers have faded but the leaves are still green.

This is the most common species, and its cultivars are the most commonly grown snowdrops on the market. They are reliably hardy and perennial. They grow to four inches tall and wide and flower in mid to late winter, long before most other plants. They are the first sign of spring around the corner. The flowers are nodding and white.

Taller than Galanthus Nivalis, Galanthus Elwesii, commonly known as ‘Greater Snowdrop’ or ‘Giant Snowdrop’, has larger flowers, leaves and size than the similar common snowdrop. They grow up to ten to 12 inches tall. Once established, it naturalises well and comes back year after year.

This variety has a dainty, double, pure white, pear-shaped flowers with green-tipped inner petals and narrow, grey-green leaves. These delightful double snowdrops are ideal for naturalising in the border under deciduous trees and shrubs.

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