There is no more welcome sight at the end of those cold and wet days of winter than to see the tiny tips of snowdrop leaves poking through the soil. Spring is just around the corner.
Snowdrops can arrive looking in perfect condition because their leaf tips are specially strengthened –they literally bore their way through frozen soil.
If you think that you are getting fewer flowers than last year, then it’s time to think about thinning out the over-crowded clumps. Unlike most other bulbs, snowdrops can be lifted when they are still in full leaf. This is what is meant by ‘in the green’.
Ease them gently out of the soil using a hand fork, separate them out into individual bulbs and replant immediately to avoid the risk of the bulbs drying out.
Bulbs that are to stay in the ground from year to year can be given a feed, and the critical time for doing is between the time when the flowers first appear and when all the leaves are brown. Any later than this, and your efforts will be wasted. My parallel activity is to stand by a drain and tear up five pound notes – not good..
Do make sure that any fertiliser you use is for flowering plants (rather than for grass or foliage plants), where the ratio of potassium is higher than nitrogen. It will be shown as the N:P:K: numbers, and will be printed somewhere on the product label.
Valerie McBride-Munro is a qualified horticulturist. As Auntie Planty she offers gardening master-classes in your own garden. Her advice is only a phone call away (020 8892 9243)
© 2014 Valerie McBride-Munro