Good to Grow: Hardy snowdrops brave cold to make us smile

My snowdrops began blooming just days before the February snow. Coincidence? Nah, I think Mother Nature knew exactly what she was doing.

February can be a very long month for gardeners. The excitement of the holidays is over and spring is weeks away. Thank goodness for the sweet, tiny white blooms of snowdrops.

I’ll be the first to admit this winter has been sprinkled with sunshine and unusually mild temperatures, yet I’m still happy to see my first outside flowers of the new year.

Snowdrop bulbs should be planted in late fall. I spent days planting spring bulbs and these little ones are the first to bloom. Keep in mind when planting the bulbs, you want them to bloom like a carpet of snow, so place the bulbs about 2 inches apart, but in an area or group together. This will give you greater impact than planting in rows.

The snowdrop stems will be 3 to 6 inches tall and the blooms about 1 inch. The small white flower will cause the stem to bend and look like the bloom is going to drop off.

This flower is often found in wooded areas, so don’t be afraid to tuck the bulbs under a tree. Because the tree has not leafed out in February, the plants will get plenty of nutrition and sunlight.

Snowdrops like plenty of water, but not too much. They need a well-draining area, maybe even a rock garden.

This perennial plant, Latin named Galanthus Nivalis (with Galanthus meaning milk white flowers) will multiply or naturalize over time. As this happens, the bulbs can be split and moved. I hope mine come back fuller next year, but I may add a few more bulbs in the fall. I really want to create the snow blanket effect in a corner bed.

Resist temptation and don’t remove the leaves until they turn yellow or ripen. It is through the leaves that the plant absorbs and stores nutrients for next year. This is the same for most spring bulbs — let the foliage take its time after blooming and you will have stronger plants next year.

I should mention this plant is toxic, so be careful with pups and small children. Deer, rabbits and squirrels seem to know this, so they may walk through the beds but will leave the bulbs and flowers untouched.

If you are looking for another early bloomer, crocus bulbs make good companions for snowdrops. They are small and will add a soft color to the landscape. They bloom in several shades, including yellow and purple.

Soon, other spring bulbs will begin to grow and be my reward for digging and planting thousands of bulbs (really not thousands, it just felt that way) in the late fall. Already I have daffodils above the ground. It won’t be long before hyacinths are up and blooming, too.

These small flowers may seem delicate, but remember they brave the cold to make us smile, and don’t worry about their blooms and a little snow. Unless it’s major accumulation, they should be just fine. Hardy, easy to grow and beautiful — that’s a snowdrop.