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Snowdrops: Precocious Spring

by Tovah Martin


You’ve been hoping for them. But still, Snowdrops always sneak up on you. Seems as though the snow has scarcely melted (and more might still come) when the Snowdrops stage their brave crusade against winter. Those first flowers send a clear message – spring has arrived.

At the Colorblends Spring Garden, the Snowdrops are front and center. A little stampede of the white petals are planted right beside the sidewalk. Savvy passersby have learned to keep a vigilant eye peeled because the flowers bloom in a blink. Open your eyes to the subtle glory happening at ground level.


The Essential Survivors

Talk about a plant that is engineered to handle spring’s fits and starts. Not only can Snowdrops stand firm beneath a light layer of late season snow, they send their blades spearing up through matted leaves and thin layers of crusty ice. They laugh at chilly temperatures. They thumb their noses when the thermometer yo-yos up and down. Only a few inches tall, their nodding white flowers flare open in the sun and warmth but close protectively against a chill. And the flowers hang from their stem on a thread of green—so they won’t be snapped easily in snow. You don’t need to worry about Snowdrops—they can fend for themselves.


How to Host Snowdrops

Snowdrops can tolerate shade, but in early spring when they are happening, an umbrella canopy of leaves isn’t available—and that’s absolutely fine with these little fellas. They perform in full sun or partial shade, sandy soil or rich loam, or a place with adequate moisture. Like most bulbs, soggy wet soil is not their favorite but a lawn is absolutely fine. By the time mowing is necessary, they’ll be long finished for the season.

Tuck Snowdrops together with evergreen groundcovers like ivy or moss for a nice partnership in earliest spring. Combine them in concert with other early risers like crocuses, or couple them with perennials that will swing in when the garden gets rolling.


The More, the Merrier

Not all bulbs multiply as well as Snowdrops. Want to establish colonies elsewhere? Snowdrops are best moved or divided while they are in growth rather than waiting for them to go dormant. Just dig a clump (these guys have deep roots—so plunge down!) and bring those pioneers to a new place. Now that you know the secrets of Snowdrops—try planting some in your own garden and be the first in the neighborhood to welcome spring.

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