How to Grow Snowdrops

Updated on January 17, 2020
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.


By the end of February, when I am sick of snow and cold, you will find me eagerly searching my garden for the first snowdrops. When they start blooming, I know that spring is near at hand, and the rest of my colorful spring bulbs will soon be making their appearance, brightening my garden after a long winter of drab brown.

What are Snowdrops?

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are perennial bulbs that are native to Europe and the Middle East. They are hardy in zones 3 through 7. They are so hardy, in fact, that they often appear and bloom while there is still snow on the ground.

Snowdrops will grow and bloom in the snow
Snowdrops will grow and bloom in the snow | Source

They naturalize easily and became so abundant in Great Britain that it was long believed that they were a native flower or that they were introduced by the Romans. They were actually introduced there in the 1600s. There are now many snowdrop gardens throughout Great Britain and Ireland which are very popular in February when the bulbs are in bloom.

A snowdrop garden in February
A snowdrop garden in February | Source

Snowdrops are related to amaryllis and daffodils. They are often confused with snowflakes which are much larger and bloom in late spring or early summer depending on the species. Most snowdrops bloom in the early spring but there are some that bloom in the fall.

The most common snowdrops are very tiny, only 3 to 6 inches tall. Unlike their snowflake cousins which produce multiple flowers, each snowdrop bulb produces a single flower. The flowers have six petals, three white outer petals and three inner petals which are also white but with a green blotch. The flowers hang down from the stem. Before they open, they look like pearl pendant earrings.

Snowdrop flowers showing the inner green blotches
Snowdrop flowers showing the inner green blotches | Source

How to Grow Snowdrops

Snowdrop bulbs are planted in the fall. Each tiny bulb should be planted 2 to 3 inches deep. Because the flowers are small, for the biggest impact you should plant the bulbs 2 to 3 inches apart in large groups. In the spring, rather than tiny white dots spread out in your garden, you will have masses of white flowers looking like leftover snow.

Snowdrops love full sun but can be planted under deciduous trees. They grow, bloom and die so early in the spring that the trees have not yet leafed out so the bulbs will get plenty of sun.

After the plants bloom, the leaves remain for a few weeks storing up food in the bulb for next year. They can look unsightly as they gradually turn yellow and die but resist the temptation to remove them until they are fully dead to make sure that your bulbs have enough food to bloom next spring. A good strategy is to plant other spring flowers around your snowdrops to hide the dying foliage.

Snowdrop seed cases
Snowdrop seed cases | Source

How to Divide Snowdrops

Snowdrops reproduce via two methods: offsets and seed. Offsets are small bulbs that develop around the main or mother bulb. This is how those large masses of snowdrops develop. It’s a good idea to dig up and separate the bulbs every few years. The offsets can be separated from the main bulbs and planted elsewhere. If you leave the bulbs alone, they will become overcrowded and stop blooming. It can also encourage disease.

How to Grow Snowdrops From Seed

When the flowers fade on your plants, they are replaced by green “fruit” which are seed cases. As they ripen, they pull the stem down to the ground where they can release the seeds to either grow in place or be carried off by ants in different directions to their nests.

If you wish to grow snowdrops from seed, you will need to gather the seed as soon as it is released. The seed must be fresh for best germination. Using netting or cheesecloth tied around the fruit before it ripens, you can catch the seeds when the fruit ripens and the seeds are released. Plant your seeds 2 to 3 inches deep just as you would the bulbs and the seedlings will germinate the following spring.

Are Snowdrops Poisonous?

Snowdrops are one of those plants like daffodils that deer don’t eat. That’s because like daffodils, they are poisonous. But they are also poisonous for humans, dogs and cats. Keep children away from the garden while your bulbs are growing and blooming. Keep your dogs on a leash and away from your garden. And keep an eye on your cats to make sure that they are not digging in that bed and coming in contact with the plants or the bulbs.

It’s a good idea to wear gloves any time that you are handling the bulbs and plants. The toxin can irritate your skin causing dermatitis. Wash your hands thoroughly after working with snowdrops.

Questions & Answers

  • If you eat a leaf of the snowdrop, would it cause sickness?

    Yes, snowdrops are poisonous for both humans and animals. Be sure to keep your pets and small children away from them.

© 2018 Caren White


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      A field of these flowers does look like snow and I would enjoy a walk to see them in bloom. Thank you for sharing on this pretty flower.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You are right about snowdrops in February, such messengers of hope.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)