If snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) Bloomed in midsummer, you might not love them up to now. This delicious flower’s scientific name is derived from the Greek words for oats (gala) and flower (anthos), and once the snowdrop increases its milky-white head in the sleeping ground, it is but one of the very first flowers in spring. The English used to predict snowdrops fair maids of February, which suggests the blossoming date at temperate locations.


The narrow leaves are the first areas of the snowdrop to look, pushing out their hard hints in late winter. The snowy blossoms are not far behind, each topped with a dab of green. Neither the flower nor the foliage is breathtaking. The white, nodding blossoms are small and unassuming, hanging just like miniature lanterns on the 4-inch stems. But their easy grace could be delightful, especially because they look while most plants are still snoozing.


Like other bulbs, snowdrops prefer moist, well-drained soil and should be planted at a depth equal to three times the height of the bulb. Because the flower grows in sun or shade, it does nicely under deciduous trees, booming in spring sunlight but also material in partial shade as the tree develops leaves. You do not have to worry about snowdrops catching a chill. They are exceptionally hardy, surviving temperatures that fall to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. To propagate snowdrops, you can split the clumps only after the flowers fade. You should replant immediately and permit the foliage to die back naturally.


Although snowdrops include heaps of species and cultivars, you’ll have to look carefully to tell the difference between them. All present the nodding, delicate flowers on fairly short, clumping stems. The frequent snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) rises to a height of about 4 inches in clumps about 4 inches wide. Giant snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii), despite its title, gets no taller than the frequent snowdrop. Its flowers and leaves are slightly larger yet. The “Flore Pleno” cultivar (Galanthus nivalis “Flore Pleno”) is similar but provides a double blossom. Most snowdrops grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.


Snowdrops look best if you plant a lot of them collectively in areas where they’re likely to naturalize. Consider massing them on the lawn under spreading deciduous trees or on the edge of woodlands. The little white flowers can also be effective encased in rock gardens or along pathways. They are brief enough to do well in front of flowering shrubs and will give your yard a cottage-garden appearance.

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