In popular parlance, the Märzenbecher is also called the March bells, forest snowdrops, spring knot flowers or large snowdrops. The Märzenbecher was given the name spring knot flower because of its enlarged ovary. Another distinguishing feature from the snowdrop is the yellow-green spot in the white petals. Its flower stalks can be 20 cm to a maximum of 90 cm in size, depending on the variety. There are three to five dark green leaves on each flower stalk. The Märzenbecher blooms much earlier than the snowdrops in places and develops its wonderfully fragrant flowers in February. With slightly bent flower heads in up to 20 cm wide and large tufts, it even finds its way up through the snow cover and stretches its bright white flowers into the sun.
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Location requirements of the popular spring flower
The spring knot flower loves humus-rich and well-drained soil and prefers to grow in our local alluvial forests. The onion plant is therefore very well suited for naturalization in the garden and forms larger stands on loamy, humus-rich soils that are not too dry if they are allowed to grow undisturbed. So the ground shouldn’t be too heavy. Sandy soils are therefore only conditionally suitable. Moderately acidic, nutrient-rich soils with a large amount of cheesecloth and humus are best because they are better at holding moisture.
The beautiful white and fragrant flower heads in the foliage of the wooded edges attract insects and offer them a first source of food in early spring. The Märzenbecher thrives wonderfully in a partially shaded location with moist soil, but also adapts well to other locations if you give it enough time and rest. The wonderful spring knot flower likes to grow in groups and also feels at home in the garden pond. There it forms its flowers before the marsh marigold.
Planting and best planting time
The best time to plant the Märzenbecher is from the beginning of September to mid-November. Put the onions in the ground at intervals of about 10 cm. The depth of the planting holes should be twice the size of the bulb. In groups of ten bulbs each creates a beautiful overall picture when they bloom. The Märzenbecher take some time to spread out. Few leaves and almost no flowers appear in the first year after planting. But if the spring knot flower feels comfortable, large cushions form from it over time. After fertilization, the ovules slowly lower to the ground, where the ants then distribute the seeds.
Since the bulbs are difficult to store, you should start planting immediately after buying the bulbs. After planting, you must not forget to water the onions well, because they must not stand in dry soil. Should you ever forget to plant the spring onions you have bought in the garden and the ground is already frozen at this point or it is already spring, then simply take a flower pot and plant them in there. Since the Märzenbecher have usually already sprouted, they grow and thrive in the pot without any problems.
Combination with other plants
The spring knot flower harmonizes very well with other early bloomers:
- Checkerboard flower (Fritillaria meleagris)
- Winterling (Eranthis hyemalis)
- Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), for example the variety “Robinsoniana”
- Simple and double blooming snowdrops
The Märzenbecher also feels at home under deciduous trees such as hydrangeas, lilacs or weigelias and is a delightful sight in the garden. He also likes to nestle at the feet of large trees in a partially shaded position.
Maintaining the Märzenbecher
- Marching cups are actually undemanding if they grow in the right soil.
- Fertilization is not absolutely necessary.
- If you want, you can add around 5g of complete fertilizer per bulb in March, when the knot flowers are sprouting.
- The plant is already withdrawing in April.
- Leave the plant alone while it flowers so it can regain strength for the next year.
- However, it is desirable to break off the faded flowers.
- But do not cut off withered leaves.
The Märzenbecher can be multiplied by sowing or brooding onions. In order to propagate with bulbs, you can dig up the young bulbs on the mother bulbs in April, when the flower bells have faded. This means that clumps and groups that have grown too large are divided at the same time. For sowing, the seeds are simply harvested before they fall to the ground. Or you can simply let the ants do the sowing and you will be surprised where the next bunch of Märzenbecher will grow.
However, the propagation is sometimes tedious, regardless of whether you propagate the beautiful plants with bulbs or sowing. It can sometimes take several years for new plants to form clumps or even to produce flowers. If you want to see quick success, dig up part of the onions including their daughter onions (brood onions) and place them in a new place in the garden. The remainder then remains at the old location for further naturalization.
Diseases and pests of the spring knot flower
In itself, the Märzenbecher is a very robust plant. You can recognize good vitality and health of the approx. 2 cm large onions by the fact that they have not dried out and look rather plump. They also have no moldy spots or injuries.
If the onions are moldy, it is better to keep your hands off them and not get them into the ground, and dispose of them immediately. Because a single moldy onion is enough to infect all the others. Especially if you don’t get to planting them quickly, you should make sure that the bulbs are stored airy and dry. High humidity during storage promotes mold growth and is generally harmful to onions.
Mice like bulbs, including the spring knot flower bulb. Not only when these are stored in the garden shed, but also when they are already in the ground. Here, however, simple measures can help. For example, you can set up mousetraps. Close-meshed wire baskets in which the bulbs are planted can also help. However, some mice are clever, and if the hunger is too great, they also go into the baskets from above in order to get to the onions. If you have a cat, it will take over the mouse hunt on its own, at any time of the year. It can even keep voles away. But make sure that your cat does not eat an onion from the Märzenbecher, as all parts of the plant are poisonous!
Pests such as the daffodil fly can also affect the Märzenbecher. The daffodil fly belongs to the group of hover flies and flies quite leisurely. Their magnificent drawing is similar to that of the bumblebees, but varies a lot from fly to fly. Their eyes look different from those of the bumblebees and so they can often be distinguished at first glance. The daffodil fly annoys many gardeners, especially in southern Germany. The larvae of the daffodil fly like to live in the flower bulbs such as daffodils, spring cups, hyacinths or snowdrops as well as amaryllis and eat out the heart of the onion. The onion is then no longer capable of germination. In addition, the larvae overwinter in the onion.
You can recognize affected onions by the fact that they can be squeezed together with little effort. You have to dispose of these onions together with the surrounding soil. If you have unslaked lime, you can mix the soil with it and bury it deep in a corner of your garden. There the earth can regenerate again in peace and can be returned to nature. If the onions are not yet so badly infested, you can try to kill the larvae with warm water. To do this, put the onions in warm water of approx. 38 to 40 ° C for no longer than two hours. Then place potatoes or onions on the infected area to lure out still living larvae and then destroy them.
Carefully poisonous plant!
The Märzenbecher is one of the poisonous plants and contains the alkaloids lycorin and galanthamine. Lycorin is also found in hybrids of the knight’s star, in the belladonna lily and in other amarylis plants. Even at low doses, this alkaloid leads to nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. Galanthamine has an inhibitory effect on cholinesterase. There is always a risk of poisoning for children and pets in your garden. Even when planting the bulbs, caution should always be exercised. If toddlers are playing in your garden, it is advisable not to plant the Märzenbecher in the first place or to move them to a place inaccessible to children.
The Märzenbecher often blooms as early as February and, with its white, bell-shaped flowers, looks just as beautiful as snowdrops, with which it is often confused. The bulbs of the spring knot flower, as the Märzenbecher is also called, cannot be stored well and should therefore remain in the ground. After a few years, the Märzenbecher will bring out wonderful cushions of flowers and grow wild. Planted in groups under trees and on the edge of the wood, in combination with snowdrops, crocuses or wood anemones, creates a wonderful overall picture. For propagation of the spring knot flower, sowing is just as suitable as plugging the brood bulbs, even if it takes a long time before the first flowers appear. The plant needs a moist, humus-rich soil, which can contain clay, but never allowed to dry out. Since all parts of the Märzenbeche are poisonous, caution is always advised!