HOW TO GROW THE LODDON LILY - Leucojum aestivum

How to grow the spring snowflake - Leucojum aestivum

So called because it was once commonplace along the valleys of the River Loddon in the English counties of Berkshire and Hampshire, the Loddon lily - Leucojum aestivum, is an ornamental flowering bulbous species widely cultivated as a garden plant. Outside of the UK, Leucojum aestivum is perhaps better known as the spring snowflake, the same common name used for the smaller Leucojum vernum.

Also commonly known as the spring snowflake, it is native to most of Europe including the United kingdom. Although now rarely seen in the UK it can still be found in good numbers along the River Thames at Church Meadow, below the Wittenham Clumps. In its native habitat the Loddon lily is almost wholly associated with rivers, although cultivated plants will establish in poorly drained, consistently damp soils.

How to grow the Loddon lily- Leucojum aestivum
Under favourable condition you can expect the Loddon lily to grow up to 60 cm tall. It has bulbs up to 4 cm across. The arching strap-shaped leaves are long, narrow, up to 70 cm long, and usually collapse as they mature. The white, bell-shaped blooms are approximate 2-3 cm long and appear in March to April. The flowers are nodding, with up to 7 on each umbel. The tepals white with a yellow or green spot near the tip.

Once pollinated fruits develop containing ingenious flotation chambers. In their native riverbank habitat these remain attached to the stem, however in the event of flooding the stems break and the fruits are carried downstream and hopefully become stranded on floodplains further down river. The bulbs can also be uprooted when rivers swell.

Plant fresh bulbs as soon as they are available or lift existing clumps in the autumn for replanting as soon as the leaves begin to die back. Plant bulbs 8-10 cm deep in a moist yet well drained, humus rich soil, preferably in full sun.

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

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