Snowdrops are among the first plants to flower in late winter, bringing some much-needed cheer.
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.
Dividing healthy clumps
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
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.
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
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.
A clump of snowdrops with sunlight shining through them
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.