Natives of Europe and Asia Minor; perform best in cold-winter climates. Closely related to and often confused with Leucojum (snowflake), these harbingers of spring are among the first bulbs to bloom as winter ends. Nodding, bell-shaped white flowers are borne one per stalk; inner flower segments are infused or marked with green, while larger outer segments are pure white. Plants have two or three strap-shaped basal leaves. Effective in rock gardens or under flowering shrubs, naturalized in woodland settings, or grown in pots. Not eaten by deer or rodents.
Plant in autumn, setting bulbs 34 in. deep and 3 in. apart in moist soil with ample humus. Bulbs prefer year-round moisture. Do not divide often; when division is necessary, do the job when the foliage begins to yellow, right after bloom.
G. 'Atkinsii'. Stems to 8 in. high bear slender, 112-in.-long blooms. Each inner flower segment has a heart-shaped green mark at the tip. Narrow leaves to 4 in. long.
G. elwesii. GIANT SNOWDROP. Foot-high stems carry 112-in. flowers; inner segments are heavily infused with green. Blooms a little earlier in spring and is better adapted to mild-winter climates than G. nivalis.
G. 'Hippolyta'. Stems to 8 in. tall carry double blooms in a bowl shape; inner petals are green with white edges.
G. nivalis. COMMON SNOWDROP. More delicate version of G. elwesii. Stems 69 in. high bear inch-long flowers, their inner segments marked at tips with a green crescent. 'Flore Pleno' has double blooms. 'Magnet' has extra-long arching flower stalks. 'White Dream' has leaves striped in white.
G. 'S. Arnott' ('Sam Arnott'). To 8 in. high. Rounded blossoms to 112 in. long have an inverted V-shaped green mark at the tip of each inner flower segment. Leaves 36 in. long.