Dividing and Propagating Snowdrops
Snowdrops, also known as Galanthus, are a genus of flowering plants. Snowdrops are distinct because they are among the earliest flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring. Snowdrops are bulbous plants, with each bulb producing a single bell-shaped, white flower. These plants can be propagated by seeds, but they are more often propagated by dividing the bulbs. Use the following guide to help you plant your snowdrops.
Step 1 – Choose the Right Time for Dividing Snowdrop
Snowdrops only bloom till spring, so it is best to divide and replant them as soon as they finish flowering and the foliage is still green. This method is called ‘dividing in the green’. Snowdrops do not establish or grow well if the bulbs are allowed to dry out. Avoid waiting till the foliage of the mature plant starts to yellow or dry out.
Step 2 – Prepare the Planting Spot
It is better to dig up the planting spots for the divided bulbs before you dig out the main plant. This way the bulbs can directly be planted as soon as they are dug out and separated, and will not dry out from wind exposure. Snowdrops require light shade for optimal growth, so choose a spot underneath a tree if you can.
Snowdrops also require moist, well-drained soil. Amend the soil as required, to improve drainage as well as moisture retention. Peat moss and mature compost are good additions to the soil for this purpose. The soil must also be rich in humus and organic matter, which makes the addition of mature compost very beneficial. Amend the soil a few weeks before you plan to divide and propagate snowdrops. When you are ready to dig out the main plant, dig out the soil for the bulb divisions, 4 to 5 inches deep, and wide enough to fit a bulb. Space each spot 2 or 3 bulb widths apart.
Step 3 – Dig up and Divide a Snowdrop Bulb
Before digging, water the soil thoroughly so that it is moist, which will make it easier to dislocate the plant. Use a trowel to dig the soil around the plant. Take care to keep a safe distance from the roots, to avoid damage. Once the soil is loose, gently try to pull out the plant. If it requires too much force, use a spade to dislodge the soil under the roots. Remove the plant. Once the plant is out, gently remove the soil around the roots by hand. If necessary, wash off the soil with a spraying can. If the plant has flowers, pluck them off so it can divert its energy to the roots. The root clump will have several bulbs, which you can gently separate by teasing them apart by hand.
Step 4 – Plant the divisions
Place each division in an individual planting spot. Place each bulb or clump of bulbs in its planting spot, and backfill the hole with soil. Water thoroughly.