In a recent post I wondered if I should divide some of our Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis and G. elwesii) clumps. Several readers answered in the affirmative. Then I just happened to read in Anna Pavord’s encyclopedic book Bulbs that Snowdrops should be planted right after flowering.


This is distinct from most bulbs, who want to be transplanted only after their foliage has withered. Replanting earlier can interfere with building up energy in the bulb for next year. But for Snowdrops, apparently, this is not a problem.


The ground was cool and so moist and soft that I could grab a handful of Snowdrops at the base and just yank them all out at once. This is probably not the approved method of digging up Snowdrop bulbs but it was oddly satisfying. I don’t recommend that you try it at home.


The bulbs in the clumps were packed together really tightly. You could see that many of them had 2 stems and could be getting ready to separate.

Snowdrops after transplanting. 

The G. elwesii I replanted in the Spicebush Bed that borders the brick garage. Another group ended up in the Sidewalk Border out front. The other species, G. nivalis, were moved in front of the Annabelle Hydrangeas (H. arborescens) by the east fence.


It seems I’m due to eat some humble pie on the subject of Snowdrops. In the past I’ve condescendingly described them as rather dull compared to brightly colored Crocuses. But rabbits and perhaps other factors have caused my Crocuses to diminish rather than expand. At this point all I get is a sparse scattering of Crocus blooms.

So it’s time to face facts. Your color can be as cheerful as you like but it doesn’t do much good if you never get to bloom. Snowdrops, meantime, flower reliably and in ever increasing numbers.

Still, I’m not going to become a Snowdrop fancier or Galanthophile. The distinctions among most Snowdrop varieties seem barely noticeable to me – I’m happy to stick with regular old G. nivalis and G. elwesii. Although, ‘S Arnott’ and ‘Atkinsii’ are kind of intriguing.

36 Comments on “Now is the Time to Divide Those Snowdrops”

  1. I suppose that makes sense. They finish blooming so early that they can be quickly divided and put back into the ground before the rainy season ends. (Well, we have a definite rainy season, with no rain until late next autumn.) They can continue to do what they would have done prior to divisions, before going dormant. I sort of wondered about doing that with snowflake, just because they are so difficult to dig after shedding their foliage. There are no snowdrops here, but I would like more of the snowflake.

  2. I always divide my snowdrops before the leaves have died down, simply because that is when you can still see them and know where the spaces are for you to plant them again. The experts tell us here that the best time is at the end of summer, that is best for the bulbs, but then I feel I would never find them and wouldn’t know if a space had bulbs under it or not!

  3. I think that the more you have of Galanthus the more you appreciate them. If they weren’t so darned expensive I would become a Galanthaphile. 🙂 I have already divided mine. My garden is a little ahead of yours due to me being further South. Weeds are now encroaching where perennials are slow to fill in. UGH

  4. As I think you know, I love white in the garden, and that top photo shows why. To me, that’s a wonderful image. What a contrast between flower and bed, between winter and spring. I hope all your transplants are happy in their new places.

  5. Hello Jason, I have the same attitude as you when it comes to snowdrops, I can’t distinguish (and don’t really care to) between the myriad varieties and don’t know why one would sell for pence while another for hundreds of pounds.

  6. Sam Arnott is a sweetie – my absolute favourite. There does seem to be a little disagreement about when to divide/plant. I always do it ‘in the green’, but have recently read expert advice to the contrary. Now confused! Last autumn my husband bought some dry snowdrop bulbs – what I’ve noticed this spring is that although they’ve all come up, none are flowering.

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