Caring For Snowdrops

The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor.

Fertilizing Snowdrops
At planting time add a handful of general-purpose, slow-acting granular fertilizer to the soil in which the snowdrops are planted. Every fall thereafter sprinkle some fertilizer formulated for bulbs on the soil there for the rain to soak in.

Mulching and Weed Control
A 1 or 2 inch layer of an organic material like chopped leaves, shredded bark or wood chips, spread over the bulb bed as a mulch, controls weeds and conserves soil moisture. Mulching also keeps dirt from splashing up on the flowers. More than 2 inches of mulch will force the snowdrop stems to travel too far to reach the light in the spring. For more information see the file on Using Mulch

Watering Snowdrops
Snowdrops don't need much water while they're flowering, but water them regularly later to encourage rooting and help the bulbs store up nutrients for next season. Ideally, bulb beds should get 1 inch of water a week from rain or from a watering system. Check soil moisture under the mulch to determine if you need to water. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment

Pruning or Grooming Snowdrops
Snowdrops, like most bulbs, need little attention. Because they are so small it is not practical to snip off their dead flowers before they go to seed as you would do with larger bulbs such as daffodils. Allow snowdrop stems and leaves to die back gradually, even if it means delaying lawn mowing in the area where they bloom in turf. While they are not particularly attractive during this period, the snowdrops are storing nutrients and energy for the next season. Do not cut them until they have turned completely brown, usually in late spring. If they are planted among other green shrubs, ground covers or perennials, the dying leaves are less obvious.

Dividing and Propagating Snowdrops
Each year snowdrop produce smaller bulbs, or "offsets", attached to the parent bulb. Increasingly crowded clumps of snowdrops may be left undisturbed for many years, but flower size becomes smaller. To increase flower size thin the clumps. Dig up the bulbs either when they are finished blooming (these are one of the few bulbs that can be transplanted while the leaves are still green) or later after the foliage turns brown. Shake the soil off the roots, and put them in a basket in a shady spot to dry off for a couple of days. Then separate the offsets from the parent bulbs and replant. Offsets bloom in 1 to 3 years.

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