Summer Snowflake-An Heirloom Bulb

These bulbs aren’t dog proof, but I find that deer never eat them

Underutilized and unknown to many people, Summer Snowflake, Leucojum aestivum, should be planted in more gardens. Deer resistant, easy to grow, and thriving in shady situations, this bulb deserves more recognition. Resembling giant snowdrops, these bulbs bloom for weeks in late April, and not in the summer like the name indicates. If  you have deer and love bulbs and want to grow more varieties than the daffodil stalwart, this is a great candidate to add to your gardens. Looking great naturalized in the lawn or woodland, I planted mine in my garden under a deciduous tree. Getting the early spring sun that shines through the leafless tree canopy is all the light these heirloom bulbs (from 1594!) need.

The bell like flowers resemble giant snowdrops
Gravetye Giant Leucojum

Often seen at old house sites and historic homes, at one time these bulbs were planted widely. But now I rarely see them. Anything that is deer resistant and thrives in shade is valuable to the homeowner who wants early spring color. Belonging to the same family as daffodils, the foliage is very similar with hollow stems supporting the white nodding bells.

There is one named cultivar called ‘Gravetye Giant’ which is a little bit larger than the species. The flowers are larger and remind me of giant lily of the valleys. Reaching 18-24″ tall, the species is slightly smaller at 12-18″ tall.

Cultivation 

Leucojums are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. Choose a location with full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil.  Plant the bulbs in fall under 3 to 4 inches of soil and 6 to 10 inches apart.  That’s it! These bulbs will outlive you and remain in place for many years and spread to fill the space, though never becoming invasive.

Available at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs for about $1 a bulb, put this on your order list for fall planting.

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