Galanthus 'Mrs W. M. George'

How to grow snowdrops

All you need to know about growing snowdrops, in our practical Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does flower in January

Plant does flower in February

Plant does flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Snowdrops (Galanthus) are hardy perennial, winter-flowering plants that are often heralded as the first sign of spring. They flower whatever the weather – they will even push through frozen, snow-covered ground.

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Although known for their small, white bell-shaped flowers there’s an incredible range of snowdrops to grow. Snowdrop fanatics will ‘collect’ different varieties, featuring flowers in different sizes and with different markings, colour changes and numbers of petals. To the amateur gardener, a snowdrop is a snowdrop, but to the expert each and every one is a collector’s item with a significant difference.

More on growing snowdrops:


Where to plant snowdrops

How to grow snowdrops - where to plant snowdrops
How to grow snowdrops – where to plant snowdrops

Grow snowdrops in moist but well-drained, hummus-rich soil in dappled shade. They do well at the foot of a deciduous hedge or under deciduous shrubs, and are often planted in grass, under deciduous shrubs, at the front of spring border displays, and in rock gardens. You can also grow them in pots. They suffer if grown in soil that dries out in summer.


How to plant snowdrops

How to grow snowdrops - planting snowdrops
How to grow snowdrops – planting snowdrops

Dry snowdrop bulbs can be planted in autumn but these are tricky to establish. Planting snowdrops ‘in the green’ is a much more successful planting method. Simply lift snowdrop plants just after flowering and before the foliage has turned yellow, and replant elsewhere. You can buy snowdrops ‘in the green’ from garden centres or online. Plant snowdrops at the same depth that they were before they were lifted – you should be able to find a soil mark. Water the snowdrops thoroughly and leave the foliage to die down naturally. Continue to water the snowdrops regularly if conditions are dry.


How to propagate snowdrops

How to grow snowdrops - propagating snowdrops
How to grow snowdrops – propagating snowdrops

Propagate snowdrops by lifting, dividing and replanting. Established clumps can be lifted and divided after flowering in March or April. With a hand fork carefully lift the bulb (with roots intact) and foliage still in place. Replant in the garden straight away. Water well. Don’t worry if the foliage looks a bit sorry, as by next winter they should be healthy and strong.


Growing snowdrops: problem solving

How to grow snowdrops - Galanthus plicatus 'Trymlet'
How to grow snowdrops – Galanthus plicatus ‘Trymlet’

When planting fresh bulbs in the autumn squirrels and mice will be on the hunt for food. Don’t be surprised if they dig up your newly planted bulbs. To prevent squirrels from feasting, make a wooden frame with chicken wire at the centre. Place the wire frame over the soil where you have planted the bulbs to allow them to establish. Remove once bulbs start to show signs of leaf growth.


Caring for snowdrops

How to grow snowdrops - Galanthus nivalis
How to grow snowdrops – Galanthus nivalis

Once snowdrops are established there’s no maintenance required. Leave them well alone. Allow foliage to die back naturally to ensure the nutrients from the leaves are returned to the bulbs. Divide established clumps every few years.

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Snowdrop varieties to grow

  • Galanthus nivalis – this is the common single snowdrop and is the best ‘starter’ snowdrop. If this one likes your soil, so will the others. Naturalises well. Flowers in February that reach 14cm
  • Galanthus ‘S.Arnott’  – prized for its larger and scented February flowers. Reaches a height of 20cm
  • Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ – the honey-scented flowers often appear as early as January. The smaller inner petals have a distinctive green marking. Reaches a height of 20cm
  • Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’ – a reliable double form with the same growing habit as the common snowdrop.
  • Galanthus plicatus – slightly silver tinge to the foliage. A good self-seeder. February flowers. Reaches a height of 20cm