Common name/s ?

Common snowdrop, Candlemas bells, Candlemas lily, common bells, fair maids of February, little sister of the snows, flower of hope and purification flower.

Skill rating




Type of plant ?

Bulbous perennial.

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 15cm height and 10cm spread.

Growth rate ?

Moderate, will reach full size in 2 to 5 years.

Shape it grows into

Upright, multi-stemmed flowers from clumps of foliage.

Season/s of interest

Flowers in February and March.

Where to grow it

Happiest in part shade.
Prefers well drained to moist soil.

Prefers humus rich soil which does not dry out in the summer. Happy in any soil type and location.

Galanthus nivalis


Greyish-green foliage appears in late winter followed by lightly scented, white flowers with 6 petals, the inner 3 of which have notches at their tips with an inverted V of green above.

What to use it for

Excellent to provide some cheerful colour in the depths of winter. Use in borders/beds, rock gardens or for underplanting roses, shrubs and trees. Can be naturalised in lawns.

How to look after it

When buying snowdrops it’s best to get them ‘in the green‘ – with the leaves still in growth – as this will help them establish more quickly. Dry bulbs can take a season or more to settle in before they will start flowering.

Divide clumps every few years to keep them growing vigorously.

How to prune it

No pruning required.

How to propagate it

Lift and divide clumps in spring after flowering but while the leaves are still growing (called ‘in the green’).

Chipping can be done in early summer and twin-scaling throughout summer, with the new bulbs being grown on in a humus-rich nursery bed in light shade and kept above -2°C, or grown on in deep seed trays or pots in a frost free place. The new plants should flower after three years’ growth.

Snowdrops can also be grown from seed (except double-flowered ones). Seeds may only be produced in milder weather in which the pollinating bees thrive. Collect the seeds as the capsules split open in summer and sow them immediately to avoid dormancy.

Common problems

Can be prone to attacks by the narcissus bulb fly and slugs. Birds can damage the flowers by pecking at them. Grey mould, galanthus grey mould blight and gladiolus dry rot may also be a problem.

Other useful information

The name Galanthus is derived from the Greek words for milk and flower.

Fans of snowdrops are called galanthophiles.

This snowdrop has achieved the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Contact with this plant can irritate the skin and a mild stomach upset may be caused if any parts are eaten.