When it comes to spring-flowering bulbs there is no debating that Tulips and Daffodils grab most if not all of the headlines. This means there is an opportunity to plant bulbs this fall that you may not be familiar with. Many of these lesser-known bulbs are particularly hardy and provide a nice burst of color late in the winter and into the early spring. Snowdrops, also known as Galanthus and Winter Aconite are two such bulbs and as their names suggest they are as tough as they are beautiful.
Snowdrops grow 4 to 10 inches tall and are also sometimes called milk flowers due to the milky white color of their blooms. These bulbs should be planted 2 to 3 inches deep and about 4 inches apart. They prefer sunny locations but can tolerate some shade and grow best in the cooler gardens zones 3 through 7. They prefer cold soil and seem to thrive in frigid conditions where they are often seen blooming through the melting snow of a late winter or early spring storm. Mass plantings of Snowdrops can be quite impressive and like Daffodils, they can be allowed to naturalize in grassy areas.
Winter Aconite grows 2 to 8 inches tall and its botanical name translates to “flower of spring”. Like Snowdrops, it flowers early in the spring and it too will bloom right through the snow. Its dark green leafs appear first and are followed by bright yellow flowers. Winter Aconite prefers rich soil with a sunny location. They grow in garden zones 3 through 7 which provide the cold temperatures the plant requires. Winter Aconite is actual a tuber and should be planted just below the soil surface and spaced about 3 inches apart. Once planted the tubers should not be disturbed and within a few years, beautiful carpet of yellow flowers will be your reward!
Both of these plants are resistant to diseases but they are attractive to pests. Snowdrops are a favorite meal for hungry snails and slugs while Winter Aconite is a favorite of digging animals such as squirrels. They also are equally at home in a container on a deck or patio as they are as a bedding plant. If you’ve been searching for a plant that will bring some much-needed color to your yard even though the final snows of winter than Snowdrops or Winter Aconite might be just what you have been looking for. If these plants could talk they would say, “Snow? What Snow!”