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 either.
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. We have a choice of snowdrop varieties if you would like to increase the interest in your garden in January and February.
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.
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.