Crucial reason to avoid planting snowdrop bulbs in autumn

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Snowdrops share many of the same characteristics as other spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Not only do they bloom at the same time of year, but they also grow in small clumps which return each spring. Despite autumn being the best time of year to plant most early bulbs in the garden, experts have warned of the risks of following this rule for snowdrops, explaining that they are “the exception”.

When to plant snowdrops

The small white flowers are readily available and cheap to buy as bulbs in autumn, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best time to plant them.

According to experts at the Sunday Gardener, it is often more difficult to grow them in September, October and November.

They said: “Snowdrops bulbs seem to be harder to get going than other bulbs. Buying snowdrops in the green avoids this problem, and can be more successful.”

TV gardener and broadcaster David Domoney explained that “planting in the green” means the bulbs are planted in late spring after they finish flowering.

This is usually between March and April when snowdrops still have their green leaves.

Following a mild winter, the classic blooms can be planted from bulbs as early as February.

However, it is best to wait until the end of the month.

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How to plant snowdrops “in the green”

As a woodland plant, snowdrops favour partial shade and plenty of moisture.

While the planting schedule is different for this particular spring bulb, planting depth is just as important as other flowers.

To grow an enchanting display of pure white blooms and bright green foliage, bury bulbs to a depth of 10cm.

This is a little over three times the depth of the bulbs, which is a “handy rule of thumb” for all bulbs, according to the Sunday Gardener.

For the brightest blooms, plant bulbs in a partially shaded site with plenty of leaf mould to improve moisture retention.

The Sunday Gardener added: “Planting the bulbs a little deeper can also help to prevent the bulbs from drying out.

“They hate to be baked in the hot summer sun, which means picking a planting spot which is also cool and semi-shaded in the summer.”

Though they are frost-hardy, snowdrops will struggle to survive in containers if it freezes over in winter.

How to plant snowdrops before spring

If you can’t wait until winter is over, it is possible to plant snowdrops sooner, though you won’t be able to grow them from bulbs.

Instead, it is recommended to buy delicate blooms as established pot-grown plants in winter.

This method is a “good way of getting them going”.

The Sunday Gardener said: “Growing Snowdrops in containers permanently is not ideal because, as with all container-grown plants, they will be more prone to drying out, which is fatal for Snowdrops.”

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