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Snowdrops for the Early Spring Garden

Janelle Rietz-Kamenar, Master Gardener

Are you a gardener that loves to have flowering plants staggered throughout the growing season? Then perhaps you should consider planting snowdrops in your yard. They are the first spring bulb to bloom and they are known to pop up amongst the snow melt. They usually bloom before larger daffodils and tulips.

Snowdrops for the Early Spring Garden

Snowdrops (galanthus spp) are a member of the amaryllis family.  However, they are a small, delicate-looking, single bloom white bell-shaped flower with several green upright leaves.  They are native to Southern Europe and Asia Minor and are found in woodlands or wet, alpine grasslands of cool mountainous regions.  Most are hardy in Zone 5 but some varieties range to Zone 2.  The common variety for Minnesota is 3 to 6 inches tall. Of note, Giant snowdrops are not as hardy (Zones 4/5). 

Where to Plant 

Snowdrops should be planted in groups of up to 25 to be really seen.  Plant them under deciduous trees or shrubs or near walkways where they can be visible in early spring when the snow is melting.  They can even be planted in your grass but then you shouldn’t mow over them until 6 weeks after blooming.  They go well combined with Siberian Squill, early small Daffodils, Winter Aconte, and Glory of the Snow.   Some people also plant them in indoor containers and force them to bloom. 

How to Plant

Plant them 3 inches apart and 3 inches deep in rich, well-drained soil in early fall when the night temperatures are in the 40s or 50s.  Consider fertilizing them in the spring when shoots first appear. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:  First to bloom in Spring gets you looking forward to the growing season.  They do not have any significant insect or disease issues and are deer resistant like daffodils.

Cons: Snowdrops are poisonous if ingested by pets or children.  To avoid skin irritations, gardeners should wear gloves when handling them.


University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension:

Penn State Extension:

Photo Credit: Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin (1,2,3)

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