Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis, Ham House, 23 February 2021
Galanthus nivalis, Ham House, 23 February 2021

With its dainty, white, nodding flowers and grey-green strappy leaves, this small bulb is a symbol of winter. It can start flowering as early as December and will go on through to February. Easy to grow in any soil that doesn’t dry out in the summer, it is happy in winter sun but has a slight preference for dappled shade. Hundreds of varieties of snowdrops are available, and as they hybridise easily, it’s not always easy to tell them apart. For a slightly taller variety, try G. elwesii, which also flowers a little earlier and has bigger flowers. Can be planted as a dry bulb, in which case it should be put in the ground as soon as it has been purchased in early autumn, or ‘in the green’, after it has finished flowering and with leaves beginning to wilt.

H x S: 0.15m x 0.1m

Aspect and soil: any moist but well-drained soil that doesn’t dry out in the summer. Tolerates

Use: on the edge of borders in between semi-evergreen ferns or as a carpet in woodland, in drifts, among other winter bulbs such as Cyclamen coum and Eranthis hyemalis, or in a lawn or meadow. Also great in containers as the first of a bulb succession planting scheme.

Care: allow leaves to die back before removing (if necessary). If growing in a meadow or lawn, do not mow until after the leaves have died back.

Wildlife: good for pollinators.

Hazard: toxic if eaten.

Hardiness: H5

Origin: Turkey and near-East