Plant of The Month – Galanthus (Snowdrop)
February is time for the humble snowdrop to provide its show of the year. It’s often overlooked and forgotten as the months pass us by but when in full bloom and seen on masse this little flowering bulb can be as awesome as the best planted herbaceous border in full flower.
The British native wild flower, Galanthus nivalis, can be seen growing wild in many parts of the UK and in the next few weeks you can see it pouring down banks or colonising church yards. The displays of naturalised bulbs at gardens like Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire or Hodsock Priory are worth a visit just for the spectacle. It takes time and space to build any sort of display, but all robust snowdrops should increase exponentially without too much help from the gardener.
Snowdrops do well on chalk, but suffer on heavy clay. A neutral to alkaline soil enriched with leaf mould suits them best. They thrive in shade and its best to ensure they do not dry out in summer. Its good practice to divide clumps every three years, because overcrowding can cause disease. However, if left to do their own thing they will naturalise and find their own balance in your garden scheme without much interference.
Snowdrops should always be planted “in the green”, after flowering. Planted as bulbs in the autumn often provides disappointment as the bulbs struggle to survive. Dig up a clump as soon as the flowers fade and divide it. Don’t waste your time separating the single bulbs, but break them into clusters of half a dozen or so and plant these mini-clumps about a foot apart.
You can’t go wrong when finding homes for snowdrops, planted as a single clump or planted as drifts throughout your entire garden, these little plants will provide a little glimpse of what’s to come as we move from the gloomy days of winter into the bright sunny days of spring. Plant them in lawns, borders and any other corner of the garden where you want a little bit of cheer to brighten a dull winters day.