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Galanthus,
Atkinsii snowdrop    1869


“With unusually long petals that give it the look of a “pear-shaped pearl,” to quote bulb-connoisseur E.A. Bowles, this is one of the oldest named snowdrops – and still enormously popular. Naomi Slade in The Plant Lover’s Guide to Snowdrops calls it “bold, elegant, and one of my favorites,” as well as “an excellent choice for beginners” because it “grows like a weed.” It’s named for James Atkins of Gloucestershire who reportedly obtained it from the Kingdom of Naples. 6-8”, zones 4b-7b(9bWC), from Holland.


SUB TYPE   wildflower, LittleBulbs

ZONES   4b-7b(9bWC)

HEIGHT   6-8”

BLOOM SEASONS   very early spring

LIGHT   half sun, light shade

PLANTING & CARE

Plant ASAP when you receive them in October. The naturally small bulbs of Galanthus can dry out and die very quickly in storage. (However, despite modern hype, planting “in the green” is not essential for success.)

Choose a lightly shaded site with well-drained or average garden soil that never gets bone-dry or overly hot in summer. Galanthus do best with more moisture than most bulbs, and they can even thrive in clay soil.

Plant 3”-4” deep and 3”-4” apart. Consider protecting with plastic netting, chicken-wire, etc., for a few weeks after planting, typically the only time critters bother these animal-resistant little bulbs. Water well, and then assure even moisture in spring and fall.

Do not mulch. Mulch is often too thick or heavy for small bulbs such as snowdrops and their growth will suffer – if they emerge at all.

After bloom, allow the foliage to yellow and wither away naturally to feed the bulbs. Fertilizing is rarely necessary.

CAUTION: Named cultivars such as ‘S. Arnott’ will NOT grow true from seed. To keep yours from being overrun by mixed and typically inferior seedlings, remove any seedpods that form before they ripen.

With good care, ‘S. Arnott’ and other named cultivars will multiply underground into ever-expanding clumps. If you want to spread them about, dig either right after bloom (“in the green”) or when the foliage yellows, and replant immediately.

Learn more about growing and enjoying snowdrops at our Fall Diverse Newsletter Archives and Bulbs as Cut-Flowers page.