How to multiply snowdrops like a pro

Snowdrops are one of my favourite flowers in the garden, the regular Galanthus nivalis is about as perfect a plant as can exist. With a beautiful white flower with green markings that, unusually, hangs upside down on a fine stem, coupled with narrow pale green leaves. Regular snowdrops are inexpensive so you can buy quite a lot as bulbs and plant them, while rarer snowdrop cultivars with marginal differences to the flower structure can be much more expensive due to their rarity.

Either way, the free and most sustainable way to increase your snowdrop numbers is to split some of your existing clumps. One thing the covid pandemic taught us all is the way exponential growth works. Snowdrop bulbs will multiply every year, increasing by an extra 1 – 3 bulbs or so per existing bulb in your garden.

Each year your number of snowdrops will increase exponentially but can slow down as clumps become over crowded. The easiest way to increase the speed of multiplying snowdrops is to dig up the clump, separate the bulbs and then replant with more space, starting the process again all over your garden.

Personally I much prefer doing this when bulbs are dormant after midsummer. The gardening world always says moving snowdrops in the green (which means in growth) is best, but technically this doesn’t make sense because you’re digging up and disturbing a plant in active growth rather than as a dormant bulb when moving it won’t affect it.

But either way works and moving them in active growth is easier because you can see what you’re dealing with. I’ll quickly explain how…

1) Dig up your chosen clump being careful not to damage roots

2) Separate each bulb by tugging apart as carefully as possible

3) Replant individually wherever you want at the same depth as before

4) Planting next to winter dormant perennials or under deciduous shrubs will help you remember where they are and not disturb bulbs later

5) Stand back and look where you’ve planted them and whether you need to add a few more from your existing plants

6) Wait a few years, enjoying the increasingly beautiful display and then repeat

For more tips like this one, check out my new sustainable gardening book, A Greener Life, out now.

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