The herbaceous perennial plant (Galanthus), also called galanthus, is a member of the Amaryllis family. There are 18 species in this genus as well as a couple of natural hybrids. The scientific name of this plant from Ancient Greek means "milky flower", which is associated with the color of the flowers. In England, such a flower is called "snowdrop", or "snow earring", and the Germans call it "snow bell", and in Russia its second name is "snowdrop", this is due to the fact that such flowers appear when the surface of the earth is still covered with snow. In the Caucasus there are the largest number of species, namely, 16, and six of these species are endangered, so they are included in the Red Book.
Most species of snowdrops have long been cultivated by gardeners as ornamental plants. For example, such a terry form as Flore Pleno in culture since 1731. Many beautiful legends are connected with such a plant. For example, one of them says that the day Eve and Adam left Eden, it snowed. Eve got very cold and began to cry, and the Creator, trying to comfort her, turned a few snowflakes into snowdrops, which became the first flowers on Earth.
Special features of the snowdrop
The snowdrop is an onion plant, which is a perennial. Their growing season is very short, with its duration depending on the climatic characteristics of the region where such a flower grows. The bulbs reach 20 to 30 mm in cross-section, they consist of scales that are 1-3 years old. Each year, 3 scales grow on the bulb, with baby plants forming in their axils. Folded or smooth, matte or shiny leaf plates are keeled on the underside.
Leaves and flowers appear at the same time. The foliage is colored in various shades of green. The flower arrow can be rounded or slightly flattened in cross-section. It may be blue or glossy and ends in a bractal leaf and a drooping flower. When flowering is nearly complete, the flower arrow is hollow.
The bractal leaf includes a pair of bracts. The perianth consists of 6 leaflets, namely, three outer ones, colored pure white, and the same number of inner ones - on their white surface there is a spot of green color formed by strokes, it is placed very close to the top. Flowering is observed in the first half of the spring period. The flowers require insects for pollination. The fruit is a fleshy opening box with globular-shaped seeds inside.
Planning and care of snowdrops, collections and varieties
Planning snowdrops in the open ground
What time to plant
Authentic gardeners recommend purchasing and planting snowdrops bulbs in July-September into the open soil. If the autumn period is long and warm, bulbs can be planted until November. It is not advisable to buy bulbs with unfurled flowers because they will wither and die after planting in the open ground. However, the bulb will not wither away, but in the next season the flowering of such a bush will be very weak, and in some cases it will not bloom at all. It is recommended to choose bulbs heavy and dense, and the protective shells should be intact.
It's also better if the planting material shows no signs of growth (buds or roots), otherwise it should be planted in open soil immediately after purchase. There may be cuts on the bulb, but make sure that the scales are not traumatized. Do not buy planting material that is broken or crushed, since there is a high probability that the crumpled and pressed parts will begin to rot. You should not store the bulbs you buy longer than 4 weeks. However, if you need to keep the planting material longer it is advisable to put it in a perforated plastic bag and cover the bulbs with sawdust or shavings.
Spring galanthus should be planted in an open sunny place but they can also be grown in the shady place under bushes or trees. Moist, loose and well-drained soil is best for growing these flowers. Plots with clay and heavy soil, as well as those where there is stagnant fluid, are not suitable for planting snowdrops. These flowers have the ability to regulate the depth of planting, so if they are planted too deep, the bush will form a new bulb on the flower stalk, at the depth it needs. If the bulbs are planted at a shallow depth, they will gradually become shallower, but they will begin to intensively accrue baby plants.
Halanthus bulbs should be planted not less than 50 mm deep. Snowdrop plants consisting of 10-30 bushes look the most impressive.
Garden care for snowdrops
Growing snowdrops in your garden is very easy. This crop does not need watering because in the spring time after the snow cover has melted, the soil contains quite a lot of liquid. However, if there was very little snow during the winter and drought is observed in the spring, it is necessary to water the bushes from time to time, otherwise they will be low.
In weeding this plant also does not need, because during the active growth of the snowdrop weeds are not yet.
Feed this plant regularly, but it is necessary to observe certain rules. It is not necessary to make fertilizers in the soil, which contain a large amount of nitrogen, this element contributes to the rapid growth of green mass, but if there will be a lot of leaves, at low temperatures and high humidity, there is a high probability of the development of fungal disease. For fertilizing such a plant, it is ideal to use a complex mineral fertilizer, which should contain a large amount of phosphorus and potassium. The fact is that potassium helps to form a bush of healthy and strong bulbs, which have a high winter-hardiness.
And phosphorus helps to stimulate the flowering of galanthus.
Growing such a culture in the same place can be long enough, but experts advise transplanting once every 5-6 years. This is because in 1 year a bulb forms about 2 daughters, and in 6 years they grow quite a lot, and they begin to feel the lack of nutrients. Therefore, the bulbs should be regularly dug out, separated and replanted.
Transplant and separate the bush while the leaves are not yet completely wilted and withered.
The bulbs that have not been stripped of any remaining soil should be separated. After the cutting places have been treated with ground coal, the bulbs are immediately planted in wells in a permanent place.
Sunflower can also be grown from seeds, but note that this culture is perfectly propagated by self-seeding. The first flowering of seeded plants will not take place until 4 or 5 years after the appearance of seedlings.
When the bushes finish flowering, do not cut the leaves immediately but only after they have died off; otherwise the bulb regeneration will be broken and the bush may not bloom the next season.
And also the leaves contribute to the accumulation of nutrients by the bulbs, so they can normally survive the winter in the soil. When planting bulbs in the fall, cover the surface of the plot with humus or peat in deep autumn.
Flowerbeds. Landscape tricks 11
Pests and diseases of snowdrops
Halanthus can be affected by a viral or fungal disease when growing in the garden. Marks and streaks of pale yellow or greenish color appear on the above-ground part of the plant infected by the virus, the leaf plate becomes lumpy and the leaf edge curls.
The infested shrub should be dug out and destroyed as soon as possible and the area where it was growing should be drenched with a strong solution of manganese potassium.
If brown or black streaks form on the leaves, it means the plant is infected with rust. If it has grey rot, a fluffy, greyish blotch will form on its surface. Parts of the plant affected by the disease should be cut out and destroyed, and the bushes themselves and the soil surface near them should be sprayed with a solution of fungicide, which is prepared strictly according to the instructions enclosed with the preparation.
Yellow spots may also appear on the leaves, this could be because the plant is suffering from chlorosis due to a lack of iron in the soil or poor drainage.
To cure the snowdrop, iron in chelated form should be added to the soil.
Nematodes as well as moth caterpillars can settle on this crop. Owl caterpillars injure snowdrop bulbs and are collected and destroyed in the fall along with weeding. At this time the caterpillars are preparing to pupate.
It is very difficult to get rid of nematodes.
Nematodes are small worms, but they cannot be seen with the naked eye. In a bush where such worms have settled, irregular pale yellow-colored tumors form along the edge of the leaf plates. On a cut of a bulb, a dark spot separating its healthy part from the diseased one is clearly distinguishable. All infested bushes should be removed from the ground and burned. Bulbs of healthy plants should be dug out, the remnants of soil should be removed, and then they should be kept for 3 to 4 hours in warm water (40 to 45 degrees).
A plot infested with nematodes is not used for growing any crops for at least five years.
Some rodents such as mice and moles can also harm the snowdrop, they injure the bulbs in the ground and can carry them away to their burrows. Those areas on the bulbs that have been gnawed tend to rot, the bush growth slows down, and they look depressed. Damaged bulbs should be dug out and all the rotten areas should be cut out to healthy tissue. The cut areas should be treated with crushed charcoal or wood ash, and then wait until they dry out.
To prevent damage of bulbs by rodents, they should not be planted in an area with a diameter of 3 m with herbaceous or perennial plants with turf, which form a clump. The fact is that they prefer to settle mice, but from their own nest rodents do not go further than 3 m. To get rid of moles, it is recommended to place several baits with poison or traps on the plot.
Underground slugs can harm galanthus, it should be noted that they prefer to live in clay fertile soil. To clean the soil from such pests, special preparations are used.
In order to prevent this, when planting the plant, the bulb in the hole is filled to the top with river coarse sand, and then the hole is filled to the top with ordinary soil.
Species and varieties of snowdrops with photos and names
It was already mentioned above that in the scientific literature there are 18 species described. However, to date, scientists are not entirely clear where the species, form or variety is. The most popular members of the genus Galanthus, which gardeners prefer to cultivate, will be described below.
The Alpine Snowdrop (Galanthus alpinus = Galanthus schaoricus)
This snowdrop is endemic to Western Transcaucasia.
The bulb reaches 35 mm in length and 20 mm across. On the surface of the dark green broad-lanceolate leaf plates there is a bluish patina. The flower stalk is 60-90 mm tall. The flowers are colored white.
Caucasian Snowdrop (Galanthus caucasicus)
In nature, this plant occurs in the forests of the middle and lower belts of Central Transcaucasia.
The bluish leaflets are about 0.3 m long and have a flat, linear shape. The stalks are about 10 centimeters tall. Fragrant white flowers are 25 mm long and 15 mm across. On the inner lobes of the perianth are spots of green color, which are placed closer to the tips of the petals.
Such a snowdrop has been cultivated since 1887.
Bortkevich's Snowdrop (Galanthus bortkewitschianus)
This plant is endemic to the North Caucasus and is named after the famous arborist and dendrologist V.M. Bortkevich. The bulbs are 30-40 mm long and can reach 20-30 mm across.
The dark green leaflets are lanceolate in shape, and there is a bluish patina on their surface. The flower arrows are about 60 mm in height and there are patches of green on the surface of the white flowers.
Sunflower of Cilicia (Galanthus cilicicus = Galanthus rizehensis)This plant can be found in the Batumi area as well as in the foothills and mountains of Asia Minor. The matte, dark green leaf laminae are linear in shape. The peduncles are about 18 centimeters long.
The white flowers have spots of green coloration on the inner perianth leaflets.
Elvis Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii)
This plant is named after the widely known collector John Henry Elvis. It is found in the mountains of Asia Minor, Southeastern Europe, the Odessa region of Ukraine, and Moldova. The height of the flower arrows of such a tall plant reaches about 25 centimeters. Its broad leaflets are blue-green in color.
The large, fragrant flowers are globular in shape. This species is variable, so there are 15 forms of this snowdrop growing in Europe. For example, Galanthus elwesii var. maxima: this form has larger leaf plates than the main species and has a wavy edge.
Folded Snowdrop (Galanthus plicatus)
In nature, such Galanthus is found in the foothills of Romania, Moldavia and Crimea.
In this genus, this species is considered the largest. The peculiarity of such a plant is that its folded leaf plates have an edge bent outward. As soon as the flowering begins, there is a bluish patina on the surface of the leaf plates, and when it ends they become glossy dark green. The height of the flower stalks can reach 25 centimeters. The flowers are 30 mm long and 40 mm across and have a pungent, pleasant scent.
It has been cultivated since 1592. It is available in about 10 garden varieties, the most popular being Wagram, which has the most passionate flowers.
Broad-leaved Marigold (Galanthus platyphyllus = Galanthus latifolius)
In nature this species occurs in the subalpine and alpine zones of the Main Caucasian Range. Such a plant is well suited for cultivation in the northern zone. The bulbs are about 50 mm long and 30 mm across.
The glossy leaf plates are colored dark green. The length of the flower stalk can vary from 10 to 20 centimeters. There is a green spot on the surface of the white flowers.
Ikarian Snowdrop (Galanthus ikariae)
This species is found in rocky, lime and sandy soil in shady, moist areas of Greece. The bulb reaches 25 mm across and 30 mm in length.
The green leaflets are dull in color. The flower stalk reaches a height of about 21 centimeters. On the surface of the white flower there is a patch of green coloration.
Snowflower (Galanthus nivalis)
This species can be found on edges, among bushes and in open areas in the alpine and lower middle belt of the forecaucasus as well as mountains of Central and Southern Europe. This species is the most popular among gardeners of all representatives of the genus Snowdrop.
Its bulb can reach about 20 mm across. Flat leaf plates are colored in dark green or grayish. The flower stalks are about 12 centimeters tall. The drooping, fragrant flowers are solitary, colored white and up to 30 millimeters across. The flowers have a spot of green on the tips of the inner perianth leaflets.
This type of snowdrop has very many garden forms, there are about fifty of them. The best known terry garden forms are:
- flore-pleno - this majestic form has flower stalks that reach a height of about 10 centimeters, the perianth has 12 large leaves (not 6 as usual) and has spots of greenish-yellow color on them;
- Lady ElphinstoneThe bushes are decorated with whitish, yellow spots on the inner circle segments;
- Galanthus nivalis subsp. Angustifolius - this form is narrow-leaved, unlike the main species it has a smaller size.
The following varieties of Galanthus nivalis are most popular with gardeners:
- Arnott. The flowers have short and fairly broad outer perianth leaves.
- Lutescence. This variety is notable for its demanding care. The delicate flowers have a pale color.
- Scharlockii. A small flower with a long wing on the flower arrow blooms on the bush.
Also quite popular in culture are the following varieties of this snowdrop species: Ophelia, Passy Green Type and Viridapicis...