The name Galanthus is derived from Greek gala “milk” and anthos “flower” in reference to the milky white colour of the flowers. This genus is native to south west and south east Europe and western Asia as far as the Caucasus Mountains and Caspian Sea. The flowers are white and marked with green. The markings are an important tool in identifying the species. However, added to these 18 or so species, breeders have selected and named a multitude of minutely distinct forms and hybrids which makes it very challenging to nigh on impossible for non galanthus gurus. (like us).
The bulbs prefers cool, moist conditions in the spring and a surprisingly dry summer dormancy in the shade. Planting involves digging a deep but narrow planting hole probably 10-15cm deep loosening the soil at depth and introduce your snowdrop into this at a depth slightly greater than it was previously planted (where the stem turns green!) Firm in and water the soil. If planting more than one of the same variety, plant the next about 10cm away ideally. They will clump up in time.
Below are some examples of the bulbs we have in our garden (elwesii, nivalis, reginae-olgaea and nivalis flore pleno).
It prefers moist, sandy soils and usually flowers after good winter rains. Geissorhiza aspera requires a dry summer period and would best suit a rock garden with mass planting.
Distribution and Description:
Native to the Western Cape region of South Africa. This bulbous plant is 10-30cm high. The leaves have a lightly thickened midrib. Flower colour ranges from deep blue to violet. Flowering time is late spring.
Geissorhiza is a Greek-derived word, geisson meaning title and rhiza meaning roots, therefore this genus has regular overlapping of the corm tunics. The species name aspera is a Latin-derived word, means rough and refers to the very rough stem.