The Q&A Archives: Snowclock Bulbs

Question: A friend I met on the web sent me some tiny bulbs for a plant she calls a "snowclock". She lives in Holland and she says they bloom in the spring and the flowers look as if there is a clock face on them. She sent me the latin name: galanthur elwesii. Please tell me more about this plant and how I can best take care of it. It looks like it may be a succulent, but its major characteristic at the moment is that it spreads quickly, sending out thin little branches. I need to know if I should cut it back before winter, even though our winters are milder than those in Holland. I would love to see it bloom in the spring next year.

Answer: Galanthus elwisii is commonly called snowdrop here in the States. It's a robust perennial with the ability to naturalize if the growing conditions are reasonable.

Galanthus grows from a bulb, but also produces seed. Bulbs multiply underground, so established stands tend to form clumps. You can divide the plants when they become overcrowded. Provide moist but well-drained fertile soil and dappled shade for best growth.

Depending upon how cold your winters are, Snowdrops will bloom in January-February, or March-April. You can divide after flowering if the plants are overcrowded. Otherwise, no care is needed and it's not necessary to cut back the foliage. The tops will die down when the weather gets cold but new flowers and foliage will appear next season.

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