Chionodoxa: What to Know About the Glory of the Snow

Updated November 15, 2021
Blue chionodoxa in spring garden

Chionodoxa, also known as Glory of the Snow, is often the first flower to bloom, sometimes even blooming when snow is still on the ground. Whether you're interested in planting it in a rock garden, as part of a container garden, or naturalizing it in a lawn, chionodoxa flowers are always a wonderful sight at the end of winter.

Chionodoxa flower characteristics

Growing Chionodoxa in Your Garden

Chionodoxa is generally hardy in Zones 3 through 8, and can be grown in beds, rock gardens, or even in the lawn. It's stunning planted in drifts, where the tiny flowers can blanket the area.

At one point, chionodoxa were considered their own genus, but are now considered a section of the Scilla genus, so you'll sometimes see them listed as scilla, and sometimes as chionodoxa.

One concern about chionodoxa is whether it's invasive or not. While it can be aggressive in optimal conditions, it's fairly easy to keep under control; simply deadhead the flowers when they're done blooming, and be vigilant about pulling plants out of areas they shouldn't be as soon as you notice them.

How to Plant Chionodoxa Bulbs

Like most other spring blooming bulbs, chionodoxa should be planted in fall since they need the cold period over the winter in order to bloom. The best time to plant is after a frost but before the ground freezes.

Glory of the Snow bulbs should be planted about three inches deep and three inches apart. When planting, make sure the pointy end of the bulb is facing up. This is where the leaves and flower stem will grow from.

Spring flowers in the forest flowering

Because the flowers (usually blue, white, or pink) are so dainty, they look best when planted in large masses or drifts, or in clumps of five to seven bulbs.

Where to Plant Chionodoxa: Light and Soil Requirements

Chionodoxa grow best in full sun to partial shade. Because they bloom so early, they can be planted under deciduous trees--they'll be finished blooming before the trees leaf out.

Fertile, well-drained soil is ideal, though they aren't really picky. It's best not to plant them in an area that stays very wet, because the bulbs are likely to rot.

Watering and Fertilizing

Chionodoxa aren't fussy as far as watering. They need even watering, and about an inch of water per week is all that's required. Most of this will come from rain or dew, but you might have to give them some supplemental water during dry periods.

It isn't necessary to fertilize chionodoxa. A topdressing of compost in the fall or early spring is all they'll need to continue growing and blooming happily.

Pruning Chionodoxa

In general, pruning isn't necessary. Chionodoxa only grows to about four inches tall, so if you're growing them in a lawn, you can mow as usual after they've finished blooming.

If you're trying to keep them from self-seeding, deadhead after they've finished blooming.

Other than that, you may want to divide any clumps of chionodoxa that seem to be growing and blooming less vigorously, since overcrowding can weaken them. Simply dig up some of the bulbs and plant them in another area of the garden. You'll get new plants, and your chionodoxa will grow much better.

Chionodoxa Pests and Diseases

Chionodoxa doesn't suffer from any pest or disease problems, mostly because it does most of its blooming and growing before most insect pests or disease issues have a chance to get started. Deer and rabbits don't seem to bother it, either.

Propagating Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa is easy to grow from seed (which is best sown in place or planted in a cold frame). Or you can divide clumps and plant the bulb offsets produced by the original bulbs to increase your stock of plants. It's best to do this in summer, after the plant is done blooming and storing energy.

Beautiful Glory of the Snow to Grow in Your Garden

Chionodoxa flowers are available in a few different colors, sizes, and even varied bloom times. Choosing a variety or two that suit your needs and your garden and your particular tastes can make growing this early bloomer even more of a joy. So whether you love pure white blooms or soft pinks or blues, there's a chionodoxa out there for you.

Blue Chionodoxa

Common Chionodoxa forbesii is the one you're most likely to see, and with good reason. Its cheery blue flowers with bright white centers are a delight in the early spring garden. It's hardy in Zones 3 through 8 and usually reaches about six inches tall.

Alba

'Alba' is a pure white Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae var. alba) that grows three to six inches tall. It naturalizes easily and is a perfect variety for growing in lawns. 'Alba' is hardy in Zones 3 through 8 and blooms in very early spring; usually in March or April.

White glory-of-the-snow flower blossom in springtime

Pink Giant

Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant' produces cheerful pink blooms with white centers. It grows six to eight inches tall and grows well in full sun to part shade. It's hardy in Zones 3 through 8 and does well in moist, well-drained soil. 'Pink Giant' blooms in late March through April, and the foliage starts fading pretty quickly after the plant is done blooming.

Violet Beauty

This unique chionodoxa boasts vibrant violet flowers washed with pink, almost with the appearance of a watercolor painting. The center of each flower is a delicate cream color. Each stem produces up to five blossoms.

'Violet Beauty' grows a bit taller than many chionodoxa varieties, at four to 10 inches tall. It's hardy in Zones 3 through 9.

Blue Giant

'Blue Giant' features deep blue blossoms with white centers and grows six to 12 inches tall. It's essentially a standard chionodoxa in appearance, but grows taller, even making it a decent cut flower.

Chionodoxa Blue Giant

Dwarf Glory of the Snow

Chionodoxa are fairly dainty flowers anyway, but this variety (Chionodoxa nana) is even tinier, with a maximum height of four to five inches tall. The tiny, star-shaped bluish-lilac flowers have vibrant white centers. This variety looks wonderful planted at the edge of flower beds, or even in window boxes or containers.

Chionodoxa nana is hardy in Zones 3 through 8.

Lesser Glory of the Snow

Chionodoxa sardensis produces 2 basal leaves along with a flowering raceme that produces approximately 15 small, blue flowers with white centers. It grows to about eight inches tall and is hardy in Zones 3 through 8.

Chionodoxa sardensis

Late Glory of the Snow

Chionodoxa tmoli is a dwarf chionodoxa that blooms later than most glory of the snow varieties. It has deep blue flowers with white centers. The tip of each petal is a bit deeper blue than the rest of it, giving the flowers even more interest. The flowers are also quite a bit larger than those of other chionodoxa varieties, and it produces fewer of them; around four to six per plant.

It's hardy in Zones 3 through 8 and usually blooms in mid to late April or even early May in very cold climates.

Good Companions for Chionodoxa

These tiny, early bloomers fit in just about anywhere. Consider planting them with other spring bulbs to provide a succession of bloom all spring long. Chionodoxa grows very well with other early spring blooming bulbs, such as:

Colourful spring flowers hyacinth, muscari and chionodoxa display in terracotta ceramic pot

Delicate, Early Blooms

The dainty, delicate-looking little chionodoxa flower is tougher than you would expect, blooming when most other plants are still enjoying their winter's rest. Added to garden beds, containers, or even lawns, these tiny blooms are sure to brighten your spring garden.

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Chionodoxa: What to Know About the Glory of the Snow