Scientific Name: Leucojum
Common Name: Snowflake
Common Species/Varieties: Generally only the one, but Snowdrop is a common sister plant
Common Colors: White blooms with green dots on all petals
Plant Type: Flower, from bulb
Annual or Perennial: Perennial
Hardiness Zone: 3-9 USDA
Self-Seeding: No, but they can self-propagate if left in the ground
Bloom Season: Spring
Grows Best In: Full Sun or shade
Fun Fact: Unlike most plants that grow from bulbs, Snowflake loves lots of moisture!
A part of the Amaryllidaceae family, Leucojum (Snowflake) is related to its Christmas Cousin, Amaryllis. Unlike their smaller sister, Snowdrop, Snowflake is one of the latest Spring bloomers. Snowflakes are also much larger, mainly taller, than the Snowdrop. Their foliage can last long after the blooms fade and shows up as a lovely, decorative grass. Snowflake will spread and propagate in the soil more quickly than others and will fill their own space, but they will not take over your garden like mint or other invasive plants. Similar to the meaning of Crocus plant, Snowflake’s meaning seems to take after the time in which it blooms. Like Spring, Snowflake plant represent hope and rebirth. Although Squirrels might try to dig up the bulbs, once the plant blooms, Snowflake is avoided by deer and nearly all pests.
SNOWFLAKE PLANTING AND STORAGE:
Snowflakes begin as bulbs, and those bulbs are planted in the Fall. You can plant tulip bulbs directly into your garden (they make lovely path liners), or into a pot stored in a cool (but not cold) dry, dark place through Winter. A good example would be an unheated garage, or shed, or a cold frame. The idea is to keep them cool but safe from rapid changes in temperature. Snowflake bulbs can also be stored in a way that prepares them for being “forced” in glass vessels in Spring. Place them in a container and add soil, then a layer of bulbs stored close together but not touching, add a layer of soil deep enough to allow room for roots to begin to develop, and then plant another row, and so forth until all of your bulbs are planted. Moisten the soil and keep it from drying out, but do not over-water. Storing Snowflake bulbs in this way can help your bulbs survive and begin to develop roots in order to be able to “force” the bulbs in a glass vessel in the Spring.
Snowflake, and all bulbs that bloom in the Spring, need to make their home in soil that is kept moist. Unlike other bulbs, Snowflake likes heavy amounts of water. Never drowning, but always wet. These bulbs can be a favorite of squirrels, and they will often dig the bulbs up over the Winter for a nice big meal. To prevent this from happening, we have had success with staking hardware mesh over the areas that bulbs are planted in, and removing the mesh once the plants start to bloom. All bulbs should be planted in orientations and at depths specific to the plant. For Snowflake, plant the bulb pointy side up in a hole that is about 3 inches deep, and space them 6-10 inches apart. It’s a good idea to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole, as well. Snowflake prefer a nutrient rich, well draining soil but will grow in full sun or part shade.
FORCING BULBS IN THE SPRING:
To “force” bulbs in the Spring, select either a vase created specifically for allowing these bulbs to grow and bloom without soil, or a tall, slender vase and line the base with a generous amount of stones, nearly to the top of the vase, and place your bulb on top of the pebbles. You will fill the water to just under the base of the bulb, and keep the water at that level until roots form. At that point, keep the roots in water at all times until the bulb has bloomed. To prepare the bulbs for blooming, place them near a very bright source of light (a grow light is best) until they begin to develop leaves. Make sure the area they are stored in to soak up the light is no warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit at any given time. They are now ready to go in your vessel to bloom!
You may reuse bulbs again and again, but they must be allowed to collect energy from the sun via their foliage. The easiest way to accomplish this is to plant the bulb in some soil and place it in a spot where it will get plenty of sun. Wait until the foliage has browned and withered, then dig up your bulbs and store them as before.