Heralding the start of the new year, and appearing midway through winter, nothing could be more welcome than a snowdrop peaking up through the mulch. From the breathtaking spreads of naturalised bulbs in public gardens like Hodsock Priory in Nottinghamshire or Cambridge’s Anglesey Abbey, to those growing wild in the West Country, it is not hard to find inspiration.
Better still, snowdrops offer unbeatable value for money since they establish easily and return year on year. As a rule of thumb, for every one bulb you plant, you’ll get two next year which means left in the ground undisturbed for a decade, your single bulb will offer up somewhere near five hundred offspring. You can increase the yield by splitting the bulbs to help them multiply faster. They are also easy-peasy to plant being so tiny and I’ve found that the free-range chickens and slugs seem to leave them alone too.
They like our climate with the wild variety, galanthus nivalis found growing naturally in some areas of the West Country. Experts might tell you that they have a preference for chalk and a dislike of heavy clay soils; alkaline to neutral conditions but my soil suits acid loving plants and I can hardly move for the wee things. They do love leaf mould so are well suited to those of us who tend to neglect our winter borders.
Whether you are hell bent on increasing your snowdrop population or not, it is a good idea to divide clumps of established bulbs to minimize the risk of disease, And since you are supposed to transplant them ‘in the green’, ie when the flowers have faded but the leaves of the plant are still viable, it makes sense to do this when you are having a tidy up. By this method you prevent the small bulbs from drying out which given their size, can occur easily.