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.
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.
Those snowdrops are beautiful!
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.
We grow the snowflakes here – don’t they usually bloom in summer?
Yes, that is why most know them as summer snowflake. However, ours are finished blooming already. I know that many of our flowers bloom earlier than they would elsewhere, but these bloom in a completely different season. They can bloom in autumn too. I don’t know if they are early or late or just don’t care.
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!
Well, I could see transplanting Daffodils when the leaves have faded but you can still see them. But according to Anna Pavord, you can transplant Snowdrops right after they finish blooming.
I like snowdrops but don’t have any, and I definitely need to leave potting up tulips to you. I brought my pots out this week, and I have some type of mutant specimens. They don’t even resemble tulips. It’s humbling. 🙂
Hmm. Sounds disappointing.
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
Yes, I can see the creeping charlie start to creep. As long as I’m home I can do a preemptive strike on them.
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.
So do I! We’ll see next spring.
So funny, you mention the topic – just separated mine yesterday.
Then you’re right on top of things.
My snowdrops seem less this year yet I have many more crocus.xxx
You’re very lucky! I’m guessing you don’t have too many rabbits.
The look good and healthy. They also have much bigger leaves than those few I see here.
That may be because they are G. elwessii, which has bigger leaves than the Common Snowdrop (G. nivalis).
Reading your post makes me realise my snowdrops are are lost in the garden somewhere, it’s time to get them organised!
I know that feeling.
A job well done. You were doing very well in other ways too, until it came to the last sentence. It’s a slippery slope, you know and that sounds as if you have at least a toe on it!
I can stop any time I want.
Ah, good to know, and thanks for the demonstration. I do have one patch of ‘Flore Pleno’ that’s getting rather crowded. Snowdrops are so cheery this time of year!
Yes, they are a welcome sight at the end of winter.
I just wish I had as many snowdrops as you so that I had to divide them. Only a very few manage to survive but I am very grateful for their tenacity. Amelia
Hmm. Perhaps it is too dry for them?
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.
But it’s still nice to have the regular varieties.
Here’s to you having carpets of snowdrops next year.xxx
I’ll drink to that!
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.
Maybe they need another year. I’ve planted bulbs in the fall and had them bloom the following spring. May be hard to justify buying Sam Arnott when I have so many free Snowdrop bulbs to transplant. Not that that’s ever stopped me in the past.