Snowdrops are small plants, no more than 8 inches tall that are among the first to show after winter. Their green shoots can often be seen breaking through the snow. These hardy annuals don’t demand a great deal of care but there are aspects of planting and growing them that need special attention.
Moist Soil is Necessary
Snowdrops cannot survive a dry spell. When you plant snowdrops make sure that you don’t choose an area that will dry out in a long dry spell. The soil should have a natural water supply or be in part of your garden that is serviced by an irrigation system. To help the soil retain moisture you should ensure that it has a good humus or compost content. When the snowdrops have finished for the season, you should mulch the area in which they grow. This will also help keep the weed growth down.
The Soil must be Well Drained
Snowdrops do not do well if they are waterlogged so do not plant them where the soil can become too wet because of poor drainage. Heavy clay soils are not very good for snowdrops because they tend to retain too much moisture and the air circulation in the soil is poor.
Do Not Cut Snowdrops Back
Snowdrops show through in early January and flower in March through to April or May. The flowers will develop seed pods that will drag the flower heads down to the soil so that the plant looks more like long grass. Snowdrop bulbs are quite small and need to be able to generate as much food for the next growing season as possible. Do not cut back the snowdrop shoots at the end of the season when they start to look a bit straggly. This will weaken the bulb stock and threaten the survival of the plants.
Snowdrops Need a Winter Chill
Don’t try to get snowdrops to grow in a warm climate. Snowdrop bulbs are triggered to grow by a long cold spell with frost. If this is not going to happen, you will not get any growth.
Although the snowdrop produces seeds well do not wait too long before either collecting them or protecting them. Snowdrop seeds are eaten by ants and other insects and the seed pods are heavy enough to drag the seeds down to ground level. If you intend to collect the seeds you need to cover them while they mature on the plant. Only pick the seed pods when they start to go yellow – green pods will not ripen if picked.
To get the best out of snowdrops do not ignore the way the bulbs grow. Snowdrop bulbs form large clumps and should be split every three years to protect against overcrowding which can encourage fungal diseases. The bulbs should be split and replanted when the flowers die off but while there are still green shoots.
Although it is possible to store snowdrop bulbs, they do better if planted as soon as possible.