Snowdrop (Galanthus spp.) is a small, perennial bulb. The snowdrop pops out in early spring, often pushing through the snow to appear. It is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 5, depending on the variety. Snowdrops grow well under trees, in woodland areas, as borders and even in containers. There are 19 species of snowdrop, which is in the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family.
Snowdrop's botanical name Galanthus comes from Greek gala (milk) and anthos (flower). Snowdrop has white flowers that look like drops of milk, and it's commonly called the milkflower. The name snowdrop also refers to a popular earring style from the 16th and 17th centuries. Snowdrop is native to the alpine grasslands of Asia Minor and southern Europe.
Throughout Asia and Europe, snowdrops have been used as a homeopathic remedy for digestive problems, menstrual problems and arthritis by midwives and monks.
Snowdrop's delicate white blossoms are solitary, six-petaled pendants with green markings. The three inner petals, which are tipped in green, overlap the outer petals, forming a tube. The plant's two or three leaves are dark green and strap-like, reaching between 4 and 10 inches long.
Where to Grow
Because snowdrops are small and delicate in appearance, consider growing them near walkways or paths, or in rock gardens or containers near the house so that you can appreciate them up close. Snowdrops look best planted in groups of at least three or four. If you grow them in combination with other early blooming bulbs, such as crocus, daffodils or winter aconite, you'll have an attractive spring display.
Some of the most popular cultivars include James Backhouse, a robust variety that often has extra petals; Flore Pleno, which has double flowers; White Dream, which has a white stripe down its leaves; and Sam Arnott, which has larger and more fragrant flowers.
How to Grow
In the fall, plant the dry bulbs in a location that will have full sun during the spring. Choose an area with rich, well-drained soil. Wait to transplant the bulbs until after they've flowered. Snowdrop bulbs should be spaced 3 inches apart and planted 3 inches deep. Do not remove the foliage after blooming; let it die back naturally. Apply bulb fertilizer either when the shoots first appear or immediately after blooming.