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Snow drops photo.

Snowdrops photo.

David Beaulieu

Taxonomy of Snowdrops:

Plant taxonomy classifies snowdrops as Galanthus nivalis.

Plant Type:

Snowdrops are spring bulb plants.

Characteristics of Snowdrops:

Snowdrops (see picture at right) produce one small (1" or less), white flower, which hangs down off its stalk like a "drop" prior to opening. When the bloom opens, the eye beholds 3 outer petals arching out over 3 inner petals. The leaves are shaped like narrow blades, which grow about 4" long. Snowdrops are perennials and will frequently naturalize.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Snowdrops:

Snowdrops take full sun to partial shade. Grow them in well-drained soil that has plenty of humus. Galanthus nivalis is a good plant for dry shade.

Planting Zones for Snowdrops:

Galanthus nivalis can be grown in zones 3-7.


Snowdrops are bulb plants. Plant the bulbs in fall. These are small plants, so their bulbs must be planted closely together (2"-3") for a showy spring display. The idea is to have a blanket of Galanthus nivalis to cover an area, replacing winter's blanket of snow! Do not remove foliage until it has turned yellow, so that your snowdrops have a chance to store nutrients for next year.

Uses for Snowdrops in Landscape Design:

You can plant Galanthus nivalis under deciduous trees without worrying that your snowdrops won't receive sufficient sunlight, since they bloom before the leaves come out on trees. This fact gives you a lot flexibility. As petite plants that crave good drainage, snowdrops are also well suited for rock gardens, where they'll provide some early-season interest.

Outstanding Feature of Snowdrops:

As the "snow" in their name suggests, snowdrops are among the earliest bloomers in the yard. Depending on your region, they will bloom in February or March. Snowdrops may not even wait for the snow to melt before emerging from their winter sleep, instead pushing right up through the snow -- a delightful sight for the winter-weary!

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