Galanthus nivalis - snowdrop Galanthus nivalis     Family: Amaryllidaceae
(gah-LAN-thuss niv-ALL-iss)

Common name: snowdrop
Zone: 3 – 7
Height: 6-9 in (15-23 cm)   Spread: 4-6 in (10-15 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; tolerates clay
Water: moderate

Description: A bulbous perennial with narrow, smooth-textured, green leaves and delicate white flowers composed of six perianth* segments. Flowers are held dangling from the tip of the flower stem. After flowering, a capsule forms, roughly spherical in shape. Several brown seeds are held within the fruit capsule until they are ripe enough for release.


Special Notes: Native to Eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, snowdrops have been introduced, and naturalized, in many parts of the world including the United Kingdom, western Europe, and North America.

A true harbinger that spring is coming, its strap-like leaves begin to poke up in late January or February. Flower buds follow with bloom time happening from late February through to late March…even into April, depending on weather conditions.

Planting a few bulbs will gradually produce a lovely colony through self-seeding and bulb offsets, called bulblets.

Plants will tolerate weak winter sun but best to plant under deciduous trees or herbaceous perennials which will provide shade to the resting bulbs below ground through the heat of the summer. Keep the snowdrop bulbs watered during drought.

Allow leaves to yellow after flowering. During this time, they are sending energy back to the bulbs. If left alone, the leaves will naturally die back and disappear by late spring as the bulbs go dormant for the rest of the year.

Snowdrops are easy care, tolerant of a range of soil types including clay. Purported to be resistant to the chemical juglans released by the black walnut tree, under which nothing will grow. They are also deer resistant. Cut flowers will last 5 to 7 days.


In our Zone 7a garden: I have noticed the patches of snowdrops in John’s back garden generally start appearing before mine in the front garden. The reason, I believe, is because my snowdrops are in shade from surrounding evergreen plants and the neighbours’ conifers…whereas John’s snowdrops are planted under deciduous shrubs and trees.


*Note: perianth – the outer part of a flower made up of the calyx (sepals) and corolla (petals)


Posted on January 17, 2018