Chionodoxa forbesii [kye-oh-no-DOKS-uh, FORBZ-ee-eye] is an early bloomer with a showy carpet of soft violet-blue flowers from the Asparagaceae family.
Easily grown in full sun to partial shade, Chionodoxa forbesii comes from the mountainsides in southwestern Turkey.
Commonly called glory-of-the-snow, it’s a relatively easy plant to cultivate and may come back year after year.
Chionodoxa Forbesii Care
Size and Growth
Chionodoxa glory of the snow is a bulb perennial. The bulbs measure about 2″ inches and have two to three basal leaves.
The bulbs eventually grow upright flower stalks reaching 6″ – 12″ inches tall. Nine bulbs should cover an area of about one square foot.
When grown in optimal conditions, the plant eventually starts producing bulb offsets. These bulbils may even self-sow from seed.
Flowering and Bloom Time
Forbesii Chionodoxa is an early bloomer with flowers appearing at the start of spring.
The plant produces a cluster of rich blue or blue-lavender flowers with white centers and yellow stamens.
The blue flowers are star-shaped and contain six petals. Each bulb typically produces 12 flowers.
After the Chionodoxa flowers appear, the foliage starts to disappear.
By the end of spring, the Chionodoxa goes into dormancy until the following spring.
Light and Temperature
Grow Glory of the snow outdoors in cool regions. Chionodoxa forbesii is a perennial and may last for many years in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.
It still thrives in warmer regions, but may not produce as many bulbs.
It grows best under full sun to partial shade but doesn’t tolerate direct afternoon sunlight, especially if grown indoors or behind glass.
As it tolerates shade and blooms early, it grows well underneath trees, including deciduous trees.
Watering and Feeding
Water the plant occasionally, ensuring the soil doesn’t dry out for very long between watering.
Fertilizer isn’t necessary but may aid growth during the spring.
After the bloom, the plant slowly goes into dormancy and doesn’t need fertilizer or water.
Soil and Transplanting
Sow directly outdoors in the fall. Forbesii Chionodoxa grows best in humus-rich soil with good drainage but average soil is also fine.
Space the bulbs about 3″ inches apart and plant them 2″ – 4″ inches deep.
Transplanting isn’t needed.
The bulbs may remain in the ground or containers over winter.
In the spring, active growth resumes, and foliage starts to appear.
Don’t remove the bulbs unless planning to store them.
To store Glory-of-the-snow, wait for the foliage to die down.
- Carefully remove the bulbs from the soil and clean them.
- Trim the roots and the flaky outer layers.
- Allow the bulbs to dry for 24 hours.
- Lightly dust the surface with sulfur to reduce the risk of fungal rot.
- Store the bulbs in paper bags in a dry, cool area.
The foliage should die out after flowers appear, but removing the spent flower heads should keep Glory-of-the-snow from using energy on seed production.
However, leaving the spent flower heads on is necessary if collecting seeds for propagation.
Propagating Glory Of The Snow
Propagate using bulbs or seeds.
The plant self-sows readily when grown in ideal environments.
- Allow the seed pods to dry on the plant.
- The pods should turn a dark brown color before falling to the ground.
- Break open the pods and harvest the seeds.
- Sow the seeds in the fall.
When sowing outdoors, plant the seeds directly in the soil.
When sowing indoors, use warm and cold stratification to promote germination.
- Place the seeds in a sealed plastic bag containing moistened vermiculite or paper towel.
- Store the bag at room temperature for about six weeks.
- After the sixth week, store the bag in the refrigerator.
- Leave the bag in the refrigerator for several weeks and then place it in a cool room.
- If kept at about 50° – 60° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C – 15° C), the seedling should appear within a few weeks.
If the seeds don’t germinate, remoisten the paper towel or vermiculite and store the bag at room temperature for another six weeks.
After repeating the entire cycle, if the seeds don’t germinate, try again in the following fall.
Chionodoxa forbesii also produces many bulb offsets.
- This process is easier compared to sowing from seed.
- To propagate using bulbs, simply collect the offsets in the summer.
- Plant in the fall for early spring bloom.
Glory-of-the-Snow Pest or Disease Problems
Chionodoxa forbesii doesn’t have any serious pest or disease problems, but it does come with a couple of concerns.
Keep children and pets away from the plant.
Some parts of the forbesii Chionodoxa plant contain toxins that may irritate if ingested.
The plant also spreads readily, making it potentially invasive in some areas.
It now grows wildly throughout parts of North America.
Suggested Chionodoxa Forbesii Uses
Commonly grown in gardens to add color in the late winter or early spring.
Grow in flower gardens, rock gardens, or sunny woodland areas.
It also works well with other early spring bloomers, such as tulips and daffodils, providing a mixture of colors.