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It’s a rare plant that thrives in the cold of Maine, in the sandy warmth of Southern California, the heat and humidity of the South and in gardens everywhere in between. Leucojum, aka garden snowflakes, do.
Why don’t you know about them? Good question. These forgiving spring bloomers add a sweet puff of mid-height white bells, with fine green or yellow dot decorations, excellent for the garden and for spring cutting. They’re super easy to grow and aren’t on the favorite foods list for rodents, rabbis or deer.
Now that you know about them, there's no excuse for not including them in your spring garden.
Choosing a site in full sun to partial shade. In warmest regions, late day shade or dappled light helps to prolong the blooming window. Leucojum can be grown under deciduous trees, along shrub borders and in perennial beds.
Most plants need soil that drains well. Leucojum are much more forgiving than most regarding drainage. These plants can be grown by the edge of ponds or streams where the soil is seasonally saturated. Leucojum can also manage clay soil better than most plants. And, as they don’t require huge amount of moisture to be happy, leucojum bulbs can also be planted in average garden soil.
Plant in the fall, from September through November, when the soil has cooled in your area but hasn’t started to freeze. These bulbs sprout roots and develop a network in the cool fall soil; they need a few weeks to do this before the ground freezes solid down 4” where they are.
Loosen the soil to 6” deep and dig holes about 4-5” deep. Add a handful or two of compost to the soil you removed. Examine your bulb and find the pointy end. That’s the top where the new sprout will appear. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointy end facing upwards. Fill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb. Plant bulbs about 4-5” apart.
Garden Snowflakes need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two during the spring when they are actively growing. These plants bloom in the spring; early spring for the vernum type and mid to late spring for the Gravetye Giants.
When your leucojum have finished their spring flowering, feel free to cut off the flower stalks but leave the foliage in place until it yellows. While still green, it is converting the sunlight into plant food through photosynthesis and nourishing the bulbs for next spring. When the leaves are yellow and pop off easily with a little tug, feel free to remove them.
Leucojum bulbs develop little side bulbs or offsets. Left to grow to maturity, these mini bulbs expand the planting and dramatically increase the volume of spring flowers.
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Average to moist, can manage clay soil
Depth: Cover bulb with 4" of soil
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Beds, borders, pond and stream banks
Tip: Easy, grows well in most parts of the U.S.
They Start Out looking Like This:
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