Early-Blooming Snowdrops

The species snowdrop Galanthus reginae-olgae blooming in our garden in October with ‘Shell Pink’ lamium.

Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.

Around this time every year, I start to get emails from customers and blog readers asking which early-blooming snowdrops will be available for purchase in our catalogue.  When you see the photo above, you can understand why gardeners who appreciate snowdrops are trying to extend their season into early fall.   Early snowdrops are beautiful in their own right but especially appreciated when not surrounded by the many other snowdrop cultivars that flower in the heart of the snowdrop season.  And  this beautiful clump of fresh white flowers is in full bloom when everything around it is going by for the year.

Highlighted in this post are five, early-blooming snowdrops that will be available in the 2020 catalogue.  Keep in mind that exact bloom time is affected by how quickly the soil cools off in the fall and the amount of moisture available to the bulbs—warmer and drier falls seem to equate with later-blooming.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


Galanthus reginae-olgae looks a lot like the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, but it blooms reliably by mid-October in our garden, and it has a more rigidly upright habit.


G. reginae-olgae also lasts a long time—here it is looking a little worse for wear on December 3.


The G. reginae-olgae that we sell comes from bulb expert Charles Cresson who selected it as a form that thrives in our climate as opposed to the other forms of this species he has trialed.  I too have tried G. reginae-olgae from other sources without success.


Galanthus elwesii ‘Potter’s Prelude’ begins to bloom in mid-November in our garden and can often last into January.  It is a rare American snowdrop selected in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s.


fall-blooming snowdrop 'Potter's Prelude' at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Potter’s Prelude’s’ flowers are big and beautiful.


‘Potter’s Prelude’ is a great companion plant for fall-blooming camellias—here with the petals of ‘Winter’s Joy’.


‘Potter’s Prelude’ has beautiful foliage.  The leaves of early-blooming snowdrops come out with or immediately after the flowers, which means that, if we have a hard winter, they can look somewhat battered when it is snowdrop shipping time in late February or early March.


Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’ is a November-blooming snowdrop so highly regarded in England that it has earned the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, one of only 28 snowdrops to do so.


‘Barnes’ in our garden


‘Barnes’ also remains ornamental for a long period of time.  It still looks great here at the very end of December.


Galanthus elwesii ‘Standing Tall’ is a very large and beautiful December-blooming snowdrop selected by bulb expert Charles Cresson in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, after many years of evaluation.


The big flowers have beautiful dark green markings.


It is a bold plant that can hold its own among evergreen groundcovers like the Chinese wild ginger in the photo.


Galanthus elwesii ‘Xmas’, a December-blooming snowdrop, originated at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC.  I introduced it and named it ‘Xmas’ because it blooms around Christmas and has a distinct X on its inner segments.


‘Xmas’ is quite vigorous in my mid-Atlantic garden.


Each plant quickly produces two or three flowers.


‘Xmas’ is gorgeous on a sunny December day.


When you look through our catalogue in December, think about adding some of these beautiful, early snowdrops.



Note: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

9 Responses to “Early-Blooming Snowdrops”

  1. Joan Zellers Says:

    Carolyn, can you please tell me the name of the red-berried plant above. It was with the G. reginae-olgae bulbs. Thanks.

  2. Nora Sirbaugh Says:

    What a delicious rush to open your post this morning! Even as the garden slides into senescence it is lovely to see rebirth. Thanks for the images. Looking forward to Christmas shopping from your catalogue!

  3. Carolyn Friedman Says:

    When do fall blooming snowdrops need to be planted?

    • Carolyn, We sell fall-blooming snowdrops as growing plants in late winter, and they can be planted in the mid-Atlantic and warmer zones then as they are coming from outside. In more northern parts of the US where the ground may be frozen, the plants can be potted and stored in a well lit but cool location until the ground is ready. Carolyn

  4. Wonderful to see your beautiful photos. The entire idea of Fall snowdrops delights. We spent last weekend in Lynchburg with a beautiful American Daffodil Society daffodil show of fall blooming daffodils flown in from the West Coast. Amazing new hybrids, mostly the work of Harold Koopowitz from species unexpected, often from Northern Africa. There were also some potted and forced varieties turned around from down under.

  5. Some autumn blooming bulbs are at a loss here, outside of landscaped areas. If they do not get watered, they do not know when autumn starts. Rain may not happen for another month, so things stay quite warm and dry. Crocus that are supposed to bloom in autumn bloom in winter or late winter, at about the same time that other crocus bloom.

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