Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis

Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis

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The snowdrops

Galanthus nivalis are small herbaceous bulbous plants, widespread throughout Europe in damp and fresh undergrowth; around 15-20 galanthus species are widespread throughout Europe and Asia, many more are hybrid or cultivar species. The foliage is ribbon-like, fleshy, erect; towards the end of winter between the leaves sprout thin erect stems, which carry a single bell-shaped flower, formed by 3 elongated external tepals, white, and by three smaller internal frames, marked by a green spot. the Italian snowdrop, galanthus nivalis, barely reaches the 15-20 cm of height, and tends to produce small colonies, therefore we easily find tufts of flowers in the woods; g. elwesii, a native of eastern Europe, instead has stems up to 20-25 cm tall and with larger and showy flowers. The hybrid species generally have particularly large flowers, or completely white, or with particularly large or colored spots.


Snowdrops are plants that are easy to grow and suitable for growing; these are fairly small bulbs, which must be buried in autumn, at a depth equal to about twice their diameter, using deep and fresh soil, which retains enough moisture. We tend to bury these small bulbs fairly close together, in small groups, so that, as happens in nature, they give rise to clumps of leaves; to obtain a good flowering it is advisable to try to position them where in winter they enjoy at least a few hours only on the day. They do not fear the cold, and can withstand temperatures of many degrees below zero without being damaged. The Galanthus nivalis need a good amount of water during the vegetation period, which goes from the beginning of winter to the first spring months, when the foliage tends to dry, to then allow the bulb to come into vegetative rest until next winter. The water needed during these months is generally guaranteed by precipitation, very common during these times of the year; in case of very dry winter and spring it is advisable to water the snowdrops, always waiting for the soil to dry between one watering and another. We avoid that they remain for prolonged periods of time without water especially during flowering, since the lack of water causes the sudden wilting of flowers and buds.
In regions with very mild winters it is advisable to choose varieties of Eastern or Mediterranean origin, preferable to alpine species, which may suffer excessively due to the hot dry summers.

Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis: The snowdrop in the language of flowers

The white whiteness of the petals, the almost reclining shape of the flower has made this flower be connected to the meaning of modesty, purity; at the same time the flowering period, the end of winter, the moment in which the days begin to lengthen, foreshadowing the spring, guaranteed the snowdrop also the meaning of consolatory flower, which gives hope for the future.
In ancient times these flowers were used during the festivities of 2 January; on this day the Catholic Church celebrates the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, or traditionally the event that took place on the day when the women who had given birth could be considered pure again; in fact this feast is also called Purification of Mary.