A clump of flowering snowdrops with sunlight shining through them

Planting snowdrops ‘in the green’

Find out how to plant snowdrops 'in the green' for a gorgeous display of early spring flowers.

Snowdrops are among the first plants to flower in late winter, bringing some much-needed cheer.

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Dry snowdrop bulbs can be planted in autumn, but often with little success. It’s widely believed that the best way to establish snowdrops is to plant them ‘in the green’ – this means immediately after they have flowered, with their foliage still intact. Discover how to grow snowdrops.

For more advice on planting snowdrops in the green, watch this video with Carol Klein, as she lifts and divides snowdrops.

Find out more about the benefits of growing snowdrops ‘in the green’, below.

It's widely believed that the best way to establish snowdrops is to plant them 'in the green' – this means immediately after they have flowered, with their foliage still intact.

Dividing healthy clumps

Breaking apart a clump of snowdrops by hand
Breaking apart a clump of snowdrops by hand

The main advantage of planting snowdrops ‘in the green’ is that you can be sure that the plants are alive and healthy when you plant them.


Plant snowdrops deeply

Replanting a recently sprouted snowdrop
Replanting a recently sprouted snowdrop

For best results, dive and replant your snowdrops on the same day, to prevent the plants from drying out. Plant your snowdrops deeply in moist soil and water thoroughly over the next few weeks, to ensure the roots quickly re-establish.


Snowdrop bulbs

Digging up snowdrop bulbs that are just beginning to shoot
Digging up snowdrop bulbs that are just beginning to shoot

By contrast, planting dormant bulbs in autumn can often be unsuccessful if they’ve dried out in the garden centre prior to buying. Being such small bulbs, snowdrops are prone to drying and while they may appear firm, such stress can kill the growing point inside.


Finding snowdrop clumps

Flowering snowdrops
Flowering snowdrops

If dividing existing clumps, some gardening experts believe snowdrops will establish better if lifted and replanted in August or September. However, this presents issues with remembering where the bulbs are and lifting them without disturbing neighbouring plants.


Flowering snowdrops

A clump of snowdrops with sunlight shining through them
A clump of snowdrops with sunlight shining through them
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After planting your snowdrops the foliage will die down naturally and you will need to wait until next winter to find out if they survived the move.


Siting your snowdrops

Snowdrops grow best in a moist, well-drained soil in light shade, similar to their natural woodland habitat. If you’re planting them in heavy soil, add a little sharp sand, grit or leaf mould to the planting hole to improve drainage. 

Trowel and garden hand fork