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Plant Profile: Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

Galanthus Snowdrops cluster 2 O

Native to the woodlands of much of Europe, other than Great Britain and northern Europe, this early blooming bulb is a member of the amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae, that also includes narcissus, agapanthus, and ornamental onion. The nodding, goblet-shaped flowers are borne singly on leafless scapes with 2-3 linear basal leaves and are white accented by emerald green. The plants are small but naturalize easily and can form large drifts that look spectacular when in bloom. Although delicate and dainty in appearance, snowdrops emerge in late winter to early spring and sometimes poke through the snow. They look equally well in rock gardens, at the front of the border, or under deciduous trees. The leaves die away quickly after the flowers fade so later flowering bulbs can be planted with them to great effect. The genus name, Galanthus, comes from the Greek words γᾰ́λᾰ (gála), meaning milk, and ἄνθος (anthos) meaning flower, and refers to the color of the flowers. The specific epithet, nivalis, is the Latin word meaning of the snow, and refers to the early bloom time.

Type: Bulb.

Bloom: Milky white 1” long flowers appear in late winter to early spring.

Size: 6-10” H x 2-3” W

Light: Full sun to dappled shade. (Foliage dies back before deciduous trees leaf out.)

Soil: Rich, consistantly moist, humusy, well-drained

Hardiness: Thrive in zones 4-7 (short lived in areas hotter than zone 7).

Care: Plant 2-3” deep and 2-3” apart in fall; allow foliage to die naturally after flowers bloom.

Pests and Diseases: None of importance.

Propagation: Self seeds; bulb offsets as soon as flowers fade.

Companion plants: Winter aconites (Eranthus hyemalis), Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii), early corcuses.

Outstanding Selections: ‘Flore Pleno’ has double flowers and is 4” tall.

Comments: Deer resistant.

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