Leucojum / Snowflake Planting Guide

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 Growing Site

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.

Soil Prep

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.

When to Plant

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. Leucojum vernum bulbs do not have a hard protective casing and the bulbs themselves are slightly soft. They dry out quickly, so plant promptly. 

How to Plant Leucojum Bulbs

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.

During the Growing Season

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.

At Season’s End

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.

Insider Tips

  1. Have clay soil? These bulbs grow in clay much better than most. Try a few!
  2. Plant in groups for greatest impact. Then watch as the seasons pass and bulbs naturalize to create spectacular drifts.
  3. Want to help the pollinators early in the spring, before perennials and shrubs start to bloom? Plant leucojum.
  4. These plants have no significant critter, insect or disease problems. Get them settled in and they’ll take care of themselves.
  5. If you live in a warm part of the country, where spring arrives early, make sure to plant your leucojum by late November to give the bulbs time to root in. Otherwise, they may begin to sprout before supporting roots have developed. 
shop leucojum
shop leucojum

Success Snapshot

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.

GUIDE: Leucojum Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: