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How to care for snowdrops

Updated February 21, 2017

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are among the earliest bloomers in February or early March. Although the pure white blooms look delicate, they are sturdy and can tolerate the extreme cold temperatures of late winter. The bright green foliage and droopy blooms atop slender stems are often seen rising above frost or snow during cold winters. Snowdrops are beautiful anywhere they are planted and do well in borders or natural woodland settings. The snowdrop is also known as the fair maid of February.

Plant snowdrops in moist, well-drained soil in September or October for early spring blooming. Avoid sunny areas, as snowdrops do best in light or moderate shade.

Remove the foliage in summer when it begins to wither and turn yellow. The green foliage supplies energy that allows the snowdrop bulbs to bloom the following year. Removing the foliage too early will result in stunted blooms.

Water the snowdrops occasionally during the summer. Don't allow the soil to become completely dry. Don't water until the soil becomes soggy, as excessively wet soil can cause the snowdrop bulbs to rot.

Feed the snowdrops in autumn, using a general-purpose liquid fertiliser. Although snowdrops don't require fertiliser to bloom, an autumn feeding will result in healthier bulbs and more and bigger blooms.

Leave the bulbs alone for at least four to five years, as the bulbs will mature and result in better blooms. After at least four to five years, the bulbs can be divided. Unlike other bulbs that are divided after the foliage dies down in autumn, snowdrops should be divided when the foliage is still green, just after the plants are finished blooming. Dig a clump of snowdrops with a shovel or garden fork. Carefully divide the bulbs with your fingers, then replant the bulbs in a prepared planting spot.

Things You'll Need

  • General purpose liquid fertiliser
  • Shovel or garden fork
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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.