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Common Snowdrop Bulbs

Galanthus nivalisFeefo logo

The details

  • Colour: White
  • Height: 4-6 ins (10-15cms)
  • Scent: Slight
  • Flowering: January-February
  • Bulb Size: 4-5 cms
  • Planting Depth: 8-10 cms
  • Planting Months: September - late November
  • RHS Award of Garden Merit
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Galanthus nivalis

The single snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is usually the first flowering bulb to appear in the new year and brings with it the promise of spring. This variety is the best to start with if you have not grown snowdrops before. It is totally hardy, establishes easily and naturalises well. If Galanthus nivalis does not like where you plant it then no other snowdrop will.

Each stem produces one nodding flower head with white outer petals and inner petals which are tinged with green. The flowers are followed by green seed pods which distribute the seeds close-by to form spreading snowdrop colonies. The leaves are long, narrow and greyish-green and have specially hardened and pointed tips to help them force their way through packed snow.
Browse our snowdrop varieties for more interest in your garden in January and February.

Like almost every early spring flowering plant, they are great food for bees at a time when there isn't much else on the menu. 

Great in the Garden

Snowdrops are fairly common in Britain and grow mainly in deciduous woods, beside streams and in grassland. They look best where they can naturalise in lawns, borders, around trees and near water. If they are allowed to spread, they produce carpets of white at a time of year when little else is in flower. They associate very well indeed with aconites and bluebells. A single snowdrop will look rather lost, so planting them in small groups are best.

Snowdrop Characteristics

  • Colour: White
  • Height: 4-6 ins (10-15cm)
  • Scent: Slight
  • Flowering: January-February
  • Bulb Size: 4-5 cm
  • Planting Depth: 8-10 cm
  • Planting Months: September - late November
  • RHS Award of Garden Merit

Did You Know?

In February 2012 Thompson & Morgan paid £725 for a single bulb of the world's most expensive snowdrop Galanthus woronowii Elizabeth Harrison. It has yet to come to market.

Snowdrops are a source of Galantamine, which is used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

Other common names include Candlemas bells or lily, and the Fair Maids of February.

Snowdrops have been widely naturalised in the UK for around 200 years, and have been cultivated here for about 400.

Planting Instructions

Snowdrop bulbs should always be freshly lifted (ours are!) as they dry out easily. When planning their planting make sure that they will have light, air and moisture during their growing season which really starts in December and finished when their foliage dies down in late March. So they are much better under deciduous trees and shrubs than evergreen ones.

Prepare well as they will reward you accordingly. Snowdrop bulbs require plenty of organic matter in the soil to perform at their best, so unless planting in grass, dig a small bucket of compost per square metre in to the top 15cms of soil where they will be planted. Allow about 15 bulbs per square metre and scatter them across the planting area. Plant them where they fall so they end up approximately 10 cms below soil level (at least twice the height of the bulb is a good guide). Firm the soil after planting and water in well to ensure good contact between bulb and soil. Mark the spot with canes or something similar so as not to forget where they are when you are planting other plants later. In grass, lift the turf, then prepare the spoil as above, plant and return the turf.

Despite being easy to grow in in open ground, unless you are an expert, don't try to grow them in containers. Snowdrops hate rapidly changing soil conditions and so are very difficult to grow like this. If you can't plant them in open ground quickly after receipt, then keep them in a good sized container, filled with good compost and sink the pot to its rim in a cool, well shaded spot. Plant them in their final position as soon as you can.