The pretty snowdrop flowers unfurl their flowering splendour from as early as February. We introduce the bulbous plant and give tips on choosing varieties and planting glory-of-the-snow.
The glory-of-the-snow (Scilla, syn. Chionodoxa) is a prolific, graceful flowering bulbous plant. It belongs to the early bloomers. Here you can learn everything about the glory-of-the-snow species, planting and care.
Glory-of-the-snow: flowering time and properties
Glory-of-the-snow belonged to the separate species Chionodoxa within the subfamily Scilloideae in the Asparagaceae family. They are now classified as Scilla, but the old species name is still most common. The species originate from the Mediterranean region from Greece to Cyprus and Turkey, where they grow in the mountains at altitudes of up to more than 2000 meters. Feral populations are now also found in Central Europe, North America and the temperate zones of Asia.
Perennial herbaceous flowering plants reach a height of 5 – 35 cm. The underground round to egg-shaped, hazelnut-sized bulbs often form numerous side bulbs, which is the main way glory-of-the-snow spread. They sprout at the time of snow melt and form two linear to elongated leaves per bulb. The flowering period of the plant is between February and April. The star-shaped flowers sit together in several loose clusters on unleafed, smooth stems. They consist of six petals, which are white, pink or blue in colour.
Is snow lily bee friendly? Bees, bumblebees and other insects like to visit the early food sources, as glory-of-the-snow offer larger quantities of nectar and pollen.
After pollination, three-part capsule fruits with black, spherical to elliptical seeds form. These are provided with a nutritive structure, the elaiosome. Rich in sugar, fat and protein, this seed packaging attracts ants that feed on it. They then dispose of the seeds on their anthill outside the structure. There, glory-of-the-snow find optimal conditions, such as nutrient-rich, crumbly substrates and protection from pests. After six to eight weeks of flowering and seed maturation, glory-of-the-snow plants retreat into the ground, survive the summer underground and the leaves die.
The most beautiful species and varieties
Glory-of-the-snow include several species. For the home garden, there is Lucile’s glory-of-the-snow (Scilla luciliae, syn. Chionodoxa luciliae), the lesser glory-of-the-snow (Scilla sardensis, syn. Chionodoxa sardensis) and Forbes’ glory-of-the-snow (Scilla forbesii, syn. Chionodoxa forbesii).
The different varieties of glory-of-the-snow can be easily distinguished by flower colour, number and height of growth. The Lucile’s glory-of-the-snow forms one to two flowers per inflorescence and reaches a growth height of 15 cm. The Forbes’ glory-of-the-snow, on the other hand, has four to twelve flowers per flower stalk and grows up to 35 cm tall on average. Lastly, we introduce the wild lesser glory-of-the-snow.
- Scilla luciliae ‘Alba’: Historic white cultivar from 1885, growing 5 – 15 cm tall. The flowering period is between March and April.
- Scilla forbesii ‘Blue Giant’: Glory-of-the-snow up to 35 cm tall and sky blue flowers with a white centre.
- Scilla forbesii ‘Pink Giant’: Pale pink flowering variety, up to 35 cm tall. Flowering of this attractive variety begins in March.
- Scilla luciliae ‘Rose Queen’: Grows numerous dark pink flowers with bright centres. The Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Rose Queen’ reaches a height of around 15 cm.
- Scilla luciliae ‘Violet Beauty’: Glory-of-the-snow with rare purple flower colour. It blooms from mid-March and reaches a growth height of up to 15 cm.
- Scilla sardensis: Wild form of glory-of-the-snow without variety denomination or breeding work. The 5 – 15 cm tall plants are more delicate and smaller than Scilla luciliae, but produce significantly more flowers in deep gentian blue.
Planting glory-of-the-snow: location, timing and procedure
Glory-of-the-snow prefer a humusy, loose soil in warm, sunny locations. They can easily cope with most garden soils, as long as waterlogging does not prevail. Planting takes place between September and November, so that first flowers appear by the following spring.
The bulbs are planted in larger groups of 10-20 to achieve a dense flowering. The distance between planting each bulb should be 5-10 cm. The depth of planting is about 10 cm. Before planting in the autumn, mature compost, sand and potting soil such as our Plantura Organic Flower Compost can be incorporated into poorer and heavier soils. A peat-free, nutrient-rich substrate is also ideal for containers and glory-of-the-snow in pots. Unwanted weeds should also be removed before planting in the bed. The bulbs are inserted using a hand shovel and then lightly watered.
At a glance: Planting glory-of-the-snow
- Habitat: warm and sunny, loose, humusy soil, no waterlogging
- Planting time: September to November
- Preparation: improve nutrient-poor and heavy soils, remove weeds
- Plant groups of 10 – 20 bulbs, each 5 – 10 cm apart, using a hand shovel.
- Planting depth: about 10 cm
- Water lightly
Combining glory-of-the-snow: typically, glory-of-the-snow bulbs are placed under woody plants or hedges as underplanting. Blue glory-of-the-snow varieties look particularly beautiful in combination with a yellow-flowering forsythia (Forsythia) or witch hazel (Hamamelis), whereas white and pink varieties, on the other hand, work best under woody plants such as magnolia (Magnolia) or winter snowball (Viburnum x bodnantense). They can also be planted with snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), grape hyacinths (Muscari) or early daffodils (Narcissa) to create colourful flower carpets.
Glory-of-the-snow spread through the garden by self-seeding and daughter bulbs, with S. luciliae spreading less than S. forbesii, making it suitable for smaller plantings in rock gardens and under woody shrubs.
The right care
Glory-of-the-snow are easy to care for and do not require pruning even after they are grown in. The nutrient requirements of the low-maintenance early bloomers are medium. After a few years, therefore, the nutrient supply may be depleted on light, sandy soils. A nutrient deficiency is first recognisable by reduced flowering or premature yellowing of the leaves. A predominantly organic slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura Flower Food can be applied loosely around the crop when the soil is frost-free beginning in March, or in planting trays when repotting. The animal-free fertiliser granules slowly and gently release the nutrients they contain over weeks and months. Leaching and overfertilisation are thus effectively prevented.
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Glory-of-the-snow in a pot cultivated indoors should be watered regularly. In summer, plants in apartments also grow from their bulbs. The flower is then planted outdoors or kept indoors for re-blooming next winter. The refrigerator is a good place for the glory-of-the-snow bulb to stimulate flowering from autumn. Here, make sure that the bulbs are not too moist or begin to rot. After about eight weeks, the plant may then be placed in a bright and cool place. It will then begin to grow roots and form shoots after a little watering. After about a week of acclimation, you can then bring the planter into the warm living room.
Snow pride bulbs are hardy down to below – 25 °C and do not require any winter protection. They can stay in the same place for years. Propagation is by daughter bulbs, which are dug up after flowering and retraction of the plant in late July and inserted in a suitable location or stored in a dry, cool room until planting.
Is glory-of-the-snow poisonous?
Like many asparagus plants, Glory-of-the-snow is poisonous. Excessive consumption of the plant parts can cause vomiting, nausea and other symptoms of poisoning. The bulbs should be stored out of the reach of pets and children until planting. However, outdoor animals eating the plants and poisoning themselves is very unlikely because they naturally avoid the bulbs and green parts.
A related spring bloomer is the hyacinth (Hyacinthus). We present the bulbous plant and the most beautiful species in the profile.