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Growing Snowdrops / Galanthus nivalis


A clump of common snowdrops in bloom.

Common snowdrops - Galanthus nivalis - bloom in the woodland in early January

Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Common Name:

Common Snowdrop, older names include Candlemas Bells, Fair Maids in February

Botanical Name:

Galanthus nivalis

Plant Type:

Early spring flowering bulb



Species from Russia to Europe, widely naturalized throughout Europe in woodlands and near streams.


Usually from 4 - 8 inches (10-20 cm)

Blooming Time:

Early spring (from January through March, depending on the location and variety) Snowdrops often bloom through a light covering of snow.


Cold hardy in zones 3-7. Prefer areas with a cool winter.

Suitable For:

Early spring ground cover, rock gardens, spring under planting of deciduous trees or shrubs.



Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, has reliably early white drop like flowers with a green dot or spot. Several garden cultivars exist, some with larger flowers than the species, some with double flowers, as well as some later flowering varieties. Snowdrops are one of the earliest spring bulbs often flowering in early January. At a height of 4 - 8 inches (10-20cm) they shows off best in clumps, naturalized under deciduous trees or shrubs.

How to Grow Snowdrops:

Snowdrops grow best in moist humid soils which do not completely dry out in summer. In cooler climates they will take full sun, but in most areas they prefers dappled shade beneath trees where they can be left undisturbed until the leaves dry up. They grows best from bulbs which have been soaked overnight, or transplanted from fresh clumps. Plant the bulbs 1 to 3 inchs apart (depending on the size and the variety). If left undisturbed they may naturalize from seed. Plants should be propagated by division of clumps of bulbs after the flowers are finished but before the leaves fall.

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