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Galanthus elwesii

Photos: Dr. Robert Polomski

Drifts of White Snowdrops – Flowers, of course!

While my fondness for snow has waned as I’ve aged, I still admire the drifts of white that blanket the landscape – not from frozen ice crystals but from the white flowers of giant snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii). These aptly named winter-flowering bulbs bloom from December (sometimes as early as late November) to February. From the basal crown of two to three gray-green strap-like leaves; a single, bell-shaped drooping flower sits atop a foot-tall flower stalk. The three larger white outer petals enclose a cluster of three smaller inner petals that, depending on the variety, may bear one or two emerald-green marks: a single inverted V that looks like Pac-Man at the tips or an additional patch at the base.

Snowdrops prefer a rich, well-drained location in part shade to shade. They’re ideal companions to flowering shrubs or herbaceous perennials, such as Lenten rose. Plant giant snowdrops along pathways and walks or at the edges of woodlands. They perform best when sited in the vicinity of deciduous trees where the snowdrops receive sun during the winter months and then filtered sun or shade in the spring when the trees leaf out and the bulbs go dormant.

To create an eye-catching floral display, plant 10 bulbs per square foot at a depth that’s twice the height of the bulb. Over the years, your snowdrops will multiply from offsets and seeds to create an expected, slush-free snowbank of white flowers.