There are four methods that can be used to propagate snowdrops.
Lift and divide clumps as the foliage turns yellow. Split the clumps into smaller pieces with as little disturbance as possible. Bulbs can also be planted singly at the same depth as they were on the soil.
Collect and sow seed as soon as they ripen. Germination should take place as the temperatures start to rise after winter.
This, more complex propagation method involves taking pairs of the scales (like layers of an onion) that make up the bulb and placing them in a damp environment to encourage each set of scales to make new bulbs.
- Use surgical gloves or wash hands thoroughly and use a sterilised cutting board and tools
- Remove outer brown scales (husk) and dead tissue and keep the basal plate intact. Slice off the nose of the bulb with a clean sharp knife
- With the bulb upside down, cut it vertically into half, then quarters. Each section must have a piece of the basal plate attached
- Peel back pairs of scales from each piece, cutting them free at the base with a scalpel, again with a piece of basal plate attached
- Place in a plastic bag with a 50:50 mix of slightly damp peat-substitute and perlite
- Shake the bag and fill with air before sealing and labelling
- Place in a warm (21°C/70°F), dark place for 12 weeks
- When bulblets appear at the base of the scales, pot them on individually, covered with their own depth of compost
- If the scales have gone soft, remove them from the bulblets before potting on. If the scales are still firm, or have roots coming from their base, leave them attached to the bulblets
Snowdrops can be propagated by chipping which produces flowering plants more quickly than twin scaling. However twin scaling produces many bulbs in a short amount of time.