Q&A: When should you plant snowdrops?

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Q: Last year I planted some snowdrops in autumn but they have yet to show. Will they grow or should I plant some more this year?

A. Many people plant snowdrops in autumn – the dried-up tiny bulbs which are on sale then – but they are rarely as successful as those gardeners who plant in spring, using bulbs still ‘in the green’.

Basically, these are bulbs lifted from the ground just after they have finished flowering. They still have plenty of foliage and they certainly establish far quicker than those wizened little specimens available later in the year.

So watch out for adverts offering snowdrops ‘in the green’ (such bulbs won’t be as cheap as the dried forms on offer later) or persuade a friend or neighbour to let you have a few bulbs when they are lifting and separating established clumps.

Snowdrops are best planted when they are still in growth and have a strong root system. Prepare the planting area by incorporating leafmould or compost and add a bit of bonemeal. Position the bulbs slightly deeper than they originally grew and then water them well if the soil is dry.

With luck, bulbs planted this spring will be flowering next year and you’ll have the start of your own snowdrop dynasty.