Termed "Snowflakes" by the gardening public, the Leucojum aestivum is by far one the most adaptable bulbs ever offered in the South. This is the bulb that we suggest people try when they aren't sure if they can grow perennial bulbs. During a season when people only consider daffodils to be early spring bloomers, this unusual bloom will steal your heart and captivate your attention. This diminutive bloom was once prized and plentiful in old southern gardens.
Scott Ogden in his book Garden Bulbs for the South says this bulb "positively thrives in the South, and you could hardly ask for a more appealing spring flower." Most spring-blooming bulbs are good only down to zone 8 or good for zones 8-10. The Leucojum aestivum, however, works great in zones 6-10! This fanciful bloom may look delicate, but this bulb is hardy, reliable, and vigorous.
Bulbs often have similar names. The buyer often assumes that the bulbs are the same but just from different companies. Over the years, the Galanthus spp. "Snowdrops" is assumed to be the same as the heirloom Leucojum aestivum "Snowflakes". Though they sound like they should be the same bulb, and the blooms do look similar, it doesn't take long in the warmer areas of the south to realize that they aren't the same. The Snowdrops just can't endure over the years the hot dry summers of the south. Whereas, the heirloom "Snowflakes" actually thrive and exceed expectations. We have even more information about the Leucojum aestivum on our blog, www.bulbhunter.com.
- Versatility: The versatility of the "Snowflakes" is probably what makes it stand out the most among all bulbs. Most bulbs need certain light or soil conditions. Those conditions aren't flexible. That isn't the case with the "Snowflakes" bulbs. "Snowflakes" work well in zones 6-10 in all kinds of soil from clay to moist sand and edges of ponds to drought-ridden soil. They can be planted in any type of lighting from full shade to full sun. If you have a spot that is unsuitable for most other early spring-blooming bulbs, try "Snowflakes".
- Blooms: These petite blooms look like bells and are only about the size of a dime. Each bloom has six little petals that each have a tiny green spot on the tip. If you plant the bulbs in groups of 4-6 then the foliage seems to "clump up" and the blooms seem to float on a sea of green. The height of these blooms is only about 12 inches. On top of their unique beauty, they have a lightly sweet fragrance for you to enjoy.Their ability to grow in sun or shade has made them a winner for woodland settings, roadside plantings, and great garden borders. Although individual blooms are smaller in stature, they are so numerous that they covered more area than larger blooms could ever hope to fill. The blooms are accented by sturdy bluish-green foliage and slight green spots on the tips of each petal.
- Tough Bulb: I'm not sure that I can emphasize enough just what a tough bulb this is. This bulb is a great perennial in the south and will naturalize over time. It is one of the easiest to grow and can thrive almost anywhere you plant it. It produces unique blooms that add to any setting. It does well in ditches or a more formal garden. It can be planted en masse for a dramatic display or in between your already-established spring bloomers for interest and diversity.
Animals: The pollinators truly enjoy this bloom and make good use of it in early March. If you want a bulb that is resistant to deer and other critters, this is a great one for you. Our Snowflakes have even resisted the munching of goats, so we feel fairly comfortable recommending them to you as an animal-resistant bulb.
Once, when speaking to a garden club in Monroe, a long time member of the club decided that she would like to show me her little patch of snowflakes. I often have such an invitation and see nice little clumps here and there in a garden setting. A surprise was in store for me when we turned onto her property and a field of white met our eyes!
What does “in the green” mean?
In the summer and fall, we ship dry bulbs that many consumers are familiar with. However, in the spring we ship some flower bulbs with their foliage still on them, having dug them right after their bloom. When the customer receives them, the foliage is in the process of drying down naturally. Plant the bulbs, with foliage and all in the ground and let the foliage turn brown and die back naturally. Another option is to not plant the flower bulbs and store the bulbs with the foliage in a cool, dark, and well ventilated spot, and most importantly let the foliage die down naturally. In other words, DON'T cut the foliage of bulbs when you receive them in the green. The browning and dying back of the foliage is the natural process of the bulb sending food and energy from the leaves down into the bulbs for their summer dormancy.
I thought spring-blooming bulbs are normally shipped in the fall? We grow many of our own snowflake bulbs here on our farm, and while it is unconventional in the United States, it is common to have bulbs shipped in the green in other parts of the world. We grow many of our own heirloom daffodils that we originally collected from old gardens on former homesites. Shipping these in the green allows us to:
1) Ship them during the bloom season when most gardeners are thinking of and remembering to plant snowflakes
2) Ensures correct identification of the flower bulb. These are heirlooms and buying and receiving the right genetic selections is important to having varieties that are perennials and will naturalize in your garden
3) Allows us to offer more bulbs are lower prices to customers
Remember that bulbs shipped in the green are coming to an end of their growth cycle. You can expect:
1) The foliage to yellow and die down naturally
2) The bulb to be dormant in the summer and early fall
3) Roots to start growing in mid fall
4) Foliage appears next January
5) Bulbs to bloom next February and March