The white to purple star blossoms of snowy shine are among the first heralds of approaching spring. Cheeky and ambitious, they peek through the melting snow cover and bring color to the still bare garden. Chionodoxa is a plant that is not easily forgotten because of its abundance of flowers. Resistant and robust, it can be cultivated in a variety of ways in the garden. The asparagus plant looks just as good in the alpine rock garden as it does when combined with evergreen ground cover. If there’s one thing that can’t stand snowy shine, it’s an inordinate amount of maintenance.
Table of Contents
- Deciduous leaves; full-margined and linearly shaped.
- The flowering time of snowy shine is between February and April.
- Belongs to the hyacinth family.
- Chionodoxa has nicknames like “snow pride” and “star hyacinth”.
- Originally from Turkey and the Middle East.
- Has a clump-like spread with small bulbs.
- From May or June the leaves wilt and the plant withdraws into the ground.
- he inconspicuous capsules of Schneeglanz are poisonous.
- Snow gloss can reach a height of up to 16 cm.
- Important food source for bees and bumblebees.
3 types of Chionodoxa and their numerous varieties are mainly to be found in our gardens: “Dark Snow Shine” (Chionodoxa sardensis), “Blue Snow Shine” (Chionodoxa forbesii) and “Common Snow Pride” (Chionodoxa luciliae). The plants differ in flower size and color. Planted together, the result is a colorful carpet of flowers in spring. For all types of snow-shine, the flowering period begins in February or March and extends well into April. A few of the most popular varieties:
- Snow lance Blue Giant (Chionodoxa forbesii): The spring bloomers with their blue-white, large-flowered abundance are anything but inconspicuous in the garden.
- Snowy Pink Giant (Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’): Star hyacinths with pink flowers. Densely planted or combined with different colored types of glossy snow results in a distinctive splash of color in the still wintry garden.
- Snow gloss ‘Violet Beauty’ (Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Violet Beauty’): variety with lavender to violet-colored, large flowers.
- Weißer Schneeglanz “Alba” (Weißer Schneeglanz “Alba”): A color complement to other varieties is this pure-white flowering kind of snow-glossy.
Location and substrate
Schneeglanz is an extremely adaptable plant. The hyacinths are originally native to the Vorderen Heimat and Turkey. There you can find them more often in sparse forests and in groups of trees. The plant with the striking individual flowers loves sunlight. The plant has no objection to a sunny location and shows its full bloom here. Partially shaded places are tolerated, but should allow a few hours of sunshine in the morning or afternoon for the plant. For example, Chionodoxa can be planted directly under large trees such as elderberry bushes. Like many flowering plants, snowy shine is difficult to cope with in fully shaded locations. The bloom is less, the entire plant shows a significantly weaker growth.
- Plant different varieties of Chionodoxa together.
- Interesting combination with other spring flowers.
- Attractive coloring for mass planting.
- Suitable for rock gardens.
In addition to the right location, the floor must also meet various requirements. So that the plant can develop optimally, the soil should be permeable. If the soil tends to become heavily compacted, you can counteract this by regular mulching or by adding fine gravel. The latter measure also benefits the neighboring plants. Snowball likes it as dry as possible. This in no way means that you no longer have to water the plant. The substrate can have a very high sand content. Alpine rock gardens, for example, perfectly meet the needs of Asian flower beauty. The slight incline of this system ensures that excess irrigation and rainwater can drain away more quickly. In conventional perennial and flower borders, it is sufficient
Watering and fertilizing
The onion plant cannot do without water entirely. Water is poured during the main growing season as soon as the top substrate layer has dried. Waterlogging can cause rot when the snow is shining and should therefore be avoided. Oriental beauty has no objection to calcareous water. Do not pour in the hot midday sun. This minimizes the evaporation rate of the valuable liquid and more water can seep into the ground.
Tip : Even on cold days, the plants should not be left to their own devices. Snow shine can cope with long periods of drought, but this can have a negative effect on flower formation.
When it comes to the supply of nutrients, the star hyacinth is an exception. It is only fertilized after flowering in April. This gives the plant the opportunity to develop nesting bulbs and to adequately prepare for their long dormant phase. You can actively support the plant with the following tips:
- Spread compost or horn shavings after flowering.
- Alternatively, use liquid fertilizer until the leaves have wilted.
- In late summer, apply a warming and nutrient-rich layer of brushwood, withered leaves or bark mulch.
- Long-term fertilizer is unsuitable for snow shine.
By fertilizing in late summer, the plant receives enough nutrients so that the shine of snow can sprout vigorously in the coming spring. If necessary, remove the rotting materials in good time so that the delicate shoots of the flowering plant get enough light. With the exception of watering and fertilizing, the plant likes to be left alone for the rest of the flowering period. This applies to the implementation as well as to the propagation.
The hyacinth plant can be planted quickly and easily in the home garden. Or rather the bulbs of the up to 16 cm high plant. Because from the summer onwards you will not get to see more of the shine of snow. Immediately after flowering, the deciduous leaves begin to wither. From May or June the plant will finally withdraw into the ground. The best time to plant bulbous flowers is between late summer and the end of autumn. Use only large and firm onions. The softer or already germinating specimens have in many cases used up their entire nutrient supply and no longer have enough reserves to grow in the new place.
- Store the tubers in a cool, dry place until they are planted.
- When you have found the optimal location for snow shine, it is necessary to prepare the ground.
- Mix clay soil with sand and humus.
- Planting depth should be 3 times that of the flower bulb, about 6 to 9 cm deep.
- The distance between the individual snowy plants is about 5 to 8 cm.
- Cover the onions loosely with substrate and pour firmly.
Tip : Mark the planting location. In this way, you can keep track of exactly where in your garden there is a gleam of snow in spring.
Chionodoxa can also be cultivated on the terrace in sufficiently large vessels. Because the plants retreat into the ground, it is worth moving the bulbs into the field afterwards and planting other plants in the tub seasonally. Place a drainage at the bottom of the vessel made of porous material. This prevents the flower bulbs from standing in the irrigation water and being damaged. Use garden soil that has been prepared with sand. Shine snow in the tub has the same requirements as star hyacinths planted directly in the bed.
Schneeglanz is happy to take care of the propagation itself. By means of brood bulbs and self-sowing, the spring bloomer slowly spreads throughout the garden. Take a rake and, in the fall, lift the large onions out of the ground. The bulbs are carefully broken off and immediately put back into the ground at the desired location. No further procedure is necessary. Chionodoxa’s strong urge to reproduce can sometimes become an annoying evil. Especially when the hyacinth plant in the perennial bed takes control and drives away other sensitive plants. You can remedy this by dividing the Schneeglanz bulbs at least every two years or by removing the bulbs over a large area.
Growing seeds is easy, it just requires a little patience from the gardener:
- Open the fruits and take out the black seeds.
- Stratify in the refrigerator for about 4 weeks.
- Scatter into a shallow container with poor substrate and cover only minimally with soil.
- Pour and keep evenly moist.
The bucket should be in the open ground in a partially shaded location. Move the seedlings once the young plants are approximately 5 cm in height. Chionodoxa raised by seeds do not flower until the 2nd year. The elaiosome on the seeds plays an important role in the self-sowing of the plant. This high-fat appendix is a treat for ants. In this way, the snowy seeds get across the whole garden and germinate even in places where you would not have expected the flowering plants.
The deciduous, snowy leaves only appear for a few months of the year. For the rest of the time, Chionodoxa is only available as an underground onion in the bed. For this reason, a back and clear cut is not necessary. But there is a little special feature of these plants: do not cut the flowers and leaves of the wilting plants when the first brown spots appear. Rather, wait until the aboveground part of the star hyacinth has completely died. After flowering, the plant collects strength and reserves in order to survive the coming months undamaged in the ground. All parts of the plant are poisonous. If it comes into contact with the skin, the juice can cause contact allergies and irritation.
Tip : Combine plants with different flowering times. In this way, the bare spots left by the sheen of snow in the bed are quickly planted again.
The onions of Schneeglanz are relatively hardy. Even temporary frosts in spring can hardly affect growth and flowering. The plant has no objection to active support. You can use the following materials as warming protection:
- Wilted leaves
Chionoxda in the tub do not require any additional protection. In order to keep the flower bulbs away from frost, you should keep the container in a windless location near a house wall.
Pests and diseases
Neither snails nor aphids can gain anything from the hyacinth family. Only waterlogging can endanger the spring bloomer. Similar to root rot, a fungal pathogen attacks the onion and causes rot. Depending on the progress of the infestation, the entire plant dies. There is no effective chemical antidote to root rot. For this reason, prevention is important. This also applies to the point in time when Schneeglanz has completely retreated into the ground.
An unwanted garden companion can in rare cases be dangerous for the flower bulbs. The underground perennial bed is a land of milk and honey for water voles. The damage caused by the rodents usually only becomes noticeable in spring, when the flowers are absent or appear only sparse. With a close-meshed wire grille, for example, you can make it more difficult for the mice to access the plants when creating the bed.
Snow shine is undemanding and can be left to its own devices. As early as February and March, the hyacinth plants conjure up color in the bed and announce the approaching spring. The robust, perennial plants can be ideally combined with other spring bloomers. If you let them go, the plants themselves take care of their reproduction.