Galanthus [guh-LAN-thus] is a small genus in the Amaryllidaceae family (Amaryllis) containing about 20 recognized species of herbaceous perennial plants.
The word Galanthus is derived from two Greek words – Gala meaning milk and anthis meaning flower.
Galanthus nivalis, also known by its common name the common snowdrop, is the most widely cultivated species of Galanthus.
It is native to deciduous woodlands of Europe and Asia Minor, the plants are known for their bulbous flowers and are also named for their white flowers.
Often seen popping up through layers of snow, the growth of snowdrop flower plants is considered a signal winter is about to end and spring is just around the corner.
Snowdrop Flower Care
Size & Growth
The plants are small and short-lived and often mistaken for snowflake plants.
They die by late-spring and will only re-emerge from the ground the next year.
Flowering and Fragrance
Snowdrops produce small, white bulbous flowers, which are slightly fragrant and dangle from slightly arching stems (one flower on each stem), near the end of the winter season.
Light & Temperature
Snowdrop plants enjoy the partial shade.
Even though they become dormant in summers, they should be planted at a site where they continue to receive some shade even in the hotter months.
However, they still grow well in full sun. Snowdrops are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3-7.
Watering and Feeding
Galanthus requires regular watering during its growing season.
Feed when watering with a water-soluble fertilizer during fall and winter to provide bulbs to nourish the bulbs and encourage top growth and new roots.
Do not water in summer while the plants are dormant.
Soil & Transplanting
This species of genus Galanthus prefers rich, well-draining, and moist soil.
For rich and fertile soil add humus before planting snowdrops.
Grooming and Maintenance
Galanthus is easy to grow and requires little to no maintenance.
They don’t need deadheading or weeding, like most other plants.
How to Propagate Galanthus
While the plants grow from seeds, they are mostly propagated by bulb division an easier method that almost never fails.
For this, however, let the plants grow until it has a dense clump of bulbs.
Then, dig them up and carefully separate the snowdrop bulbs.
Replant the bulbs immediately.
Early fall is the best time to plant Galanthus plants.
Here’s how to plant snowdrops:
- Prepare the site for planting by loosening up the soil and then adding dried manure or compost and 5-10-10 granular fertilizer.
- Mix until everything is well-combined and there are no clumps of compost or fertilizer.
- Plant the snowdrops with the flat base of the bulbs 2″ – 3″ inches deep into the soil.
- Make sure the skinny nose of the bulbs remains outside the soil.
- Water the plants regularly.
While the bulbs usually begin to develop roots in a week or two, there won’t be any growth above the soil until late winter or early spring.
While it’s not necessary, experts suggest feeding the new plants with a water-soluble fertilizer once during autumn and winter to encourage more and better flowering and longer bloom time.
However, they may take up to a year to become established and flower properly.
Galanthus Pest or Diseases
The plants are known to be poisonous for humans, cats, and dogs. If you are growing snowdrops in your garden, make sure to not let your children or pets go near them.
Also, it’s recommended you wear gloves while working with these plants, as it can cause skin irritation.
Snowdrop Flower Uses
In addition to being grown for ornamental purposes, snowdrop flowers are widely cultivated for horticulture trade.
The flowers of some Galanthus species are among the world’s most widely traded wild bulbs.
The plants were also traditionally used for treating certain health conditions, like digestive problems and arthritis. However, no such use is prevalent in today’s world.
In gardens, snowdrops are ideal for planting on borders, walkways, and pathways.
They are also considered ideal for rock gardens and woodland gardens.