The Snowdrop, the January Flower, Symbolizes Consolation, Purity and Innocence

shutterstock 120471019 FloraQueen EN The Snowdrop, the January Flower, Symbolizes Consolation, Purity and Innocence

The snowdrop, commonly known as galanthus nivalis, is a bulbous flower among the first to announce the end of winter and the arrival of spring. A symbol of renewal and the month of January, its small pure white bells, often piercing the last snow, appear from January to March, from a naturalized ground-cover carpet, a lawn setting, a light undergrowth, the foreground of a driveway edge, a rockery, or a flowerpot. This beautiful bulb, easy to grow, is found in many gardens.

Easy to live with and perfectly rustic, the snowdrop grows just about everywhere and does not require any maintenance. The flower thrives in semi-shade under shrubs, roses, or deciduous trees, on the edge of undergrowth. This prolific bulb brings a touch of freshness to the garden associated with other early bulbs such as narcissus, daffodils, and tulips.

In well-drained soil, it can naturalize easily, forming, over time, very attractive foregrounds of borders at the beginning of spring.

As you read this, discover the following:

* Botanical Description
* Characteristics
* Where to Plant the Snowdrop?
* Care and Diseases
* Multiplication
* Association

Botanical Description

The snowdrop is a delicate small bulbous plant of the amaryllidaceae family native to Asia and Central Europe, where it grows in rocky soils and wooded areas. The genus includes 19 species of bulbous perennials. Perfectly hardy, the snowdrop resists above -15 degree C. It is cultivated almost everywhere but dreads the drylands and the long dry summers of the Mediterranean climate. It appreciates contrasting environments and needs a cold period to flower well.

Vigorous and very prolific, these small bulbous plants form numerous bulbils that spread from year to year. They are easy to naturalize in the garden, and they also resow spontaneously: they multiply rapidly in lawns without requiring any support, ending up over time by forming pretty flowering colonies. Once you plant it in well-drained soil, the snowdrop can bloom for many years, provided that the bulbs are divided every three or four years to ensure the plant’s longevity and keep the flowers vigorous.


The snowdrop is one of the first flowers to bloom at the end of winter, sometimes as early as January, more often in February. Elegantly simple, the small winter bells, reminiscent of a drop of milk, often pierce the last snow. In Greek, galanthus nivalis means “flower of milk.” They flower from January to March and last about three weeks.

Delicate and airy like snowflakes, the flowers of the snowdrop differ according to the variety, they can be single or double. Additionally, they are composed of an outer crown formed of three long outer tepals slightly domed of a bright white sometimes marked with green at the tip, widely spread.

These delicate, drooping inflorescences, borne outwards from the clump and sloping towards the ground, disappear with the arrival of the first heat of spring. They are melliferous and exhale a light honey scent. The color of the foliage changes according to the variety, from glaucous green to very bright light green.

Where to Plant the Snowdrop?

You can plant the snowdrop everywhere. It prefers different climates: its bulb needs a cold period to flower well. The flower is very hardy and does not fear the snow, and can withstand colds above -15 degrees C. Easy to grow, the snowdrop thrives if you plant it in fresh soil in summer, moist and above with good drainage in winter. It fears heavy, waterlogged soils that favor the rotting of bulbs and just as many soils dried out by the high summer heat. It can adapt to a calcareous soil.

Once you plant it well, the tufts can remain in place for many years, sometimes to the point of becoming invasive. This small bulb appreciates fresh half-shade, especially in a Mediterranean climate. However, in a cold environment, it can support sunny exposures well.

Also, the snowdrop can be suitable in light undergrowth at the foot of deciduous trees, on the edge of driveways or flowerbeds, in a fresh rockery or pots.

Care and Diseases

Not very constraining, the snowdrop requires no special care. When the foliage turns yellow after three to four years, it is time to pull out and divide the large clumps to maintain good vigor. No pruning is necessary. However, if you want to control propagation by avoiding volunteer seeding, cut the stems after flowering. To give the bulb time to replenish its reserves for the following spring, leave the foliage in place, without cutting or mowing, until it has wilted. Only plants grown in pots require regular watering.

Snowdrop is a robust, disease-resistant plant that, when grown in the right conditions, does not fear and returns year after year. The narcissus fly is the main enemy: pulling up the affected bulbs is compulsory in the case of an attack. The other threat is grey rot caused by excess water. Therefore, good drainage soil can keep the bulbs alive and avoid contamination by this fungus.


The growing seeds of snowdrop are random, especially since this bulbous plant likes to reseed naturally. We advise the division, very simple to make and preserve quite vigorous tufts and abundant flowering. Thus, divide the clumps every three years. Preferably do this in February when the foliage is still green or just afterward as soon as the leaves start to yellow.

Then, lift the clump with a garden fork, taking care not to damage the bulbs. Cut the dried leaves and separate the bulblets one by one, by hand or with a small knife. Afterward, replant the bulbs 5-8 cm deep in well-drained soil.


Snowdrops are flowering bulbs that are easy to associate with a multitude of beautiful plants. Discreet but faithful, they are easily propagated in naturalistic gardens or weekend gardens. Galanthus nivalis is ideal for colonizing slopes, flowering borders, decorating a lawn, composing flowering carpets under deciduous trees or roses, ephemeral pots, awakening a rock garden or a bed of perennials in winter.

Snowdrops symbolize the official flower for January birthdays. The flower is one of the first bulbs to bloom at the end of winter. Delicate and elegant at the beginning of spring, it thrives beautifully on the ground. Maintenance-free, rustic, and prolific, it is naturalized and multiplies very quickly. You can grow it in large-flowered carpets, in borders, on the lawn, or at the foot of trees.

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