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Too Early to Transplant/Divide Snowdrops?

Posted by katrinawitch Zone 6b NJ (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 29, 11 at 8:57

Weather here has been in the 30's/40's, with a warm-ish spell this past weekend. My snowdrops are just past peak blooming, and are taking over one area near my deck. I was hoping to divide and transplant them this year. Is it too soon? The soil is digg-able, and the weather is supposed to be more seasonable going forward, in the 50's.

I'm just too impatient to get out there and start digging!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Too Early to Transplant/Divide Snowdrops?

No, not to early so long as the soil is workable.

Snowdrops, unlike most other spring blooming bulbs, are best divided and moved while "in the green".


Here is a link that might be useful: planting and caring for snowdrops

RE: Too Early to Transplant/Divide Snowdrops?

Snowdrops for me are my early spring surprise almost anywhere in my garden. I have a patch of them next to my compost pile and every year some bulbs end in the compost. As I spread compost over the garden I now have snowdrops scattered through out the garden and get more surprises every year. Al

RE: Too Early to Transplant/Divide Snowdrops?

katrinawitch and Al - if these snowdrops taking over ever becomes a problem, send them my way! I don't think I could ever have enough.

Maybe I need to plant them by the compost.

RE: Too Early to Transplant/Divide Snowdrops?

I just read in a Larry Hodgson book about bulbs that the right time to lift these is when the leaves are yellow. He doesn't get into detail, but he does say that after that point, they are hard to find and you would have to dig a lot to unearth the bulbs. My guess is he means to say that it is best to lift these once they are done for the season, and he recommends the yellowing leaf stage only because once the leaves are gone, it is too hard to spot them. So, I think the general rule of thumb is to try and lift these any time they are in dormancy.

I think I would wait a little until the plants show at least some sign of dying back. Maybe a week or two... If you really want to dig right now, you may want to divide/relocate some hostas. That is quite a satisfying activity for me. Plus, now that your bulbs are showing, it would be super easy to put your hostas right in front of them, to hide the ugly yellowing leaves of the bulbs. Hostas start getting leafy just as most bulbs get ugly, so I think the easiest solution to hiding unsightly remnants of bulbs is by using hostas.

RE: Too Early to Transplant/Divide Snowdrops?

There is repeated balderdash about transplanting snowdrops 'in the green', e.g. page 8 of the February 2013 of Gardeners' World; 'Like most snowdrops, best planted in the green...

Three people with more direct experience than any of article writers for that mag are adamant that snowdrops should be transplanted and/or sold much later in the year. Chris Brickell, John Grimshaw and Paul Christain have all published on this topic. Although some progress has been made, their research continues to be widely ignored.

A few years ago, I heard Chris Brickell say that the only benefit of transplanting snowdrops 'in the green' is that you know where they are when you dig them up and you know where they are when you have replanted them so that you do not put more in the same place!

With some good friends in Cheltenham (England) we have visited Colesbourne Park, where Dr John Grimshaw is gardens manager for Henry Elwes (G. elwesii). John was a little more reserved because he said a few varieties of snowdrop do not suffer much when transplanted 'in the green', but he did advise strongly against it.

In his current catalogue (Spring 2013), Dr Paul Christian is more outspoken: "Our Galanthus are only supplied in summer. We do not sell them "In The Green" as moving them in that way, in leaf and root, in Spring, damages them and sets them back. It is an old-fashioned, outmoded idea and times have changed.

Hands-on experience proves it is highly detrimental in the long term. I stress that what we send will NOT be dry bulbs, they are our own, damp-packed bulbs produced here and dug for despatch at the right time. The period from July-Oct. is, without a doubt, the best time to move them (as damp bulbs). If someone tells you otherwise then, quite simply, they are wrong!"

'Gardening World' has lagged behind 'The Garden'(RHS)and 'Which? Gardening' on this issue. The Garden has now changed advice. The article on page 22 of the January 2013 reflects more or less exactly the assertion of Paul Christian, including the minor caveat of John Grimshaw. Which? Gardening Jan/Feb 2102), however, on pages 42-43 messes up a very reasonable article - giving the same advice as Paul Christian - by including a photo of the author dividing snowdrops (in the green)!

This is clearly an example of an error being repeated so often that it becomes the "truth". It is time this one is put to rest.

RE: Too Early to Transplant/Divide Snowdrops?

John has moved on to director of Castle Howard Arboretum Trust.

I've done both dormant and " in the green". It can be problematic when " in the green" plants are sent too late since they won't flower the next year.

Here is a link that might be useful: John Grimshaw's blogspot

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