Snowdrops are hardy bulbs whose ability to withstand cold is obvious to anyone who has discovered them peeking through the snow in early spring. Considered minor bulbs because of their tiny size and relatively modest floral display, they are nevertheless welcome additions to a residential landscape. Originally from from Europe, both the Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) and its larger cousin, the Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elweisii) are virtually care free.
Height And Spread of Snowdrops
Common snowdrops reach 4 to 6 inches tall when in flower. Giant snowdrops, as their name suggests, grow considerably taller. Their flower stalks may reach 11 inches. Typically, snowdrops develop dense clumps 2 to 4 inches or more across.
Several bluish-green, strap-like leaves grow from the base of each plant. They are about 9 inches long and 1/4 inch wide and have a pale stripe down the center. Those of the giant snowdrop type are a bit wider, up to 3/4 inch, and more coarse. They appear at about the same time as, or a little before, the flowers and then die back in late spring.
A few snowdrops are a "must" in most gardens simply because almost nothing else blooms so early. Depending on the weather and climate, the first flowers appear sometime between late January and early March and hang on for up to 6 weeks. Plants produce several stalks, each tipped with a single, white blossom about 1 inch long. The delicate nodding flowers are waxy and have 3 green-tipped, notched inner petals covered by 3 longer white outer petals. They have a faint scent of honey.