How to grow snowdrops from seed

In England it used to be that snowdrops - Galanthus nivalis, were the first plants to bloom in the spring, but with an influx of new plant introductions over the past centuries this is no longer the case. That being said, they are still considered to be the first sign that winter's cold grip is coming to an end. Native to Europe and the Middle East, the snowdrop is generally believed to be a British native wild flower, or to have been brought to the British Isles by the Romans, however it is believed to have been introduced around the early 16th century.

How to grow snowdrops from seed
The seeds of most species and single-flowered species can be collected, however the seed pods will need to be left on the plant and only picked when they turn yellow. They can not be picked earlier and ripened indoors as this will drastically affect their viability. Interestingly, snowdrop seeds have a tail-like appendage called an elaiosome. The elaiosome is rich in fatty acids and attractive to ants. In the wild ants would carry off the elaiosomes, including the seeds, which allows the plants to become distributed further afield.

Once collected the seeds should be sown immediately however prior to sowing prepare the seeds by removing any parts of the seed pod adhering to it. Sow the seeds thinly in 9 cm pots containing a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Press into the compost but do not bury. Top off with 1 cm of grit-sand. Gently water in so as not to disturb the seeds and then place outside in a cold frame. Keep the compost moist but not waterlogged and do not allow the compost to dry out.

How to grow snowdrops from seed
You can expect germination to occur at the end of the following winter. Be aware that most conditions must be maintained throughout the year as drought can easily kill off the seedlings. The seedlings will be able to remain in the pots for a couple of years, and fed with a 50% dilute liquid soluble fertiliser. They can then be potted on into larger pots with John Innes 'No.3' or planted outside into their final position.

Snowdrops will perform best in heavy loams with plenty of moisture and some shade.

The first flowers will begin to appear in the 4th year but depending on conditions the first blooms may not emerge until the sixth year.
Main image - Bank hall bretherton at en.wikipedia CC BY 3.0
In text image - http://pacific bulb
In text image -

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW THE LODDON LILY  - Leucojum aestivum

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