SNOWDROPS, GIANT SNOWDROPS
Pronounced: gah-LAN-thus el-WEZ-ee-eye
Sunset zones 1-9, 14-17.
USDA zones: 3-9.
Height: 5-9 inches (12-23 cm).
January to early February.
Bell-shaped, honey scented, white flowers with green on inner tepals.
Six-inch long, strap-like leaves.
Full sun to partial shade.
Moist, humus rich soil. Even when bulbs are dormant, do not let soil dry out.
Sow seed as soon as ripe. | Lift bulbs and replant right after flowering but before leaves die down.
Rainy Side Notes
In January, I look forward to seeing galanthus in flower, a sign that spring is not too far away. The common name, snowdrops, perhaps came about because they bloom so early that many times they are flowering while there is still snow on the ground. Another common name is giant snowdrops, because this species has larger flowers than the other popular species. Their botanical name galanthus comes from the Greek words gala for milk, and anthos for flower. The name refers to the color of the flower. The species, G. elwesii, is named after the naturalist who introduced the bulb, H.J. Elwes.
Galanthus are normally carefree bulbs to grow with little to no diseases or pests that bother the plants. Squirrels and rodents avoid the bulbs because every part of the plant is toxic for animals, including humans. Handle bulbs with care as some people may end up with skin irritations after handling.
Plant bulbs 3-4 inches deep immediately after receiving them in early autumn as the bulbs dehydrate easily. When planting, space bulbs three inches apart.
Galanthus elwesii is a 2005 Great Plant Pick.
Photographed in author's garden.