Snowdrops and Agapanthus in Toronto


1. what kind of soil do snowdrops need….many people on my street have snowdrops that spread like crazy…mine don’t do that….
2. How do you winter agapanthus …should you cut them back before bringing them inside for the winter? I didn’t and they flowered nicely last summer in full sun but only a bloom or two

  1. Growing Snowdrops

Snowdrops (Galanthus) will grow in both sunny or partly shady places, even under shrubs and trees. “North-facing, but sunny” should be fine as long as the bulbs get some sun in the early spring as they bloom before trees and shrubs leaf out. They will not grow in deep-shade conditions.

Snowdrops require cool winters to grow well; that’s usually not an issue in Toronto.

Galanthus prefer compost-rich, moist well-drained soil. If the soil is too wet, the bulbs will rot. Typical Toronto clay soil does not drain well. An annual addition of compost or humus will improve drainage for clay, indeed all soils. The bulbs are dormant during the summer months–good drainage will prevent the bulbs from rotting.

When have you planted the bulbs? Have you planted them soon after purchasing them? If the bulbs have dried out, they will not grow well. After purchasing, keep them cool and plant as soon as possible.

The soil can be amended when planting the bulbs with compost; make sure that the area is well-watered after you have planted them.

As with growing tulips, the squirrels cannot be blamed–Galanthus bulbs are poisonous–squirrels will definitely avoid them.

It can sometimes take a year for the bulbs to become established.

By making sure that your soil drains well and the bulbs are planted where they will get part sun in the early spring, your Galanthus should be as good as your neighbours.

For further information about growing bulbs successfully, please see the TMG Gardening Guide:

  1. Overwintering agapanthus.

The Agapanthus or the Lily of the Nile is a South African native. There are two kinds of Agapanthus:

  1. the evergreen type ( A. praecox & A. africanus) which is hardy in zone 8+;
  2. the deciduous type ( A. campanulatus, A. caulescens & A. inapertus ) which dies back in winter is hardy to zone 6+.

In Toronto we have hardiness zone 6b and in the GTA zone 5b, definitely too cold for Agapanthus.

The type of Agapanthus determines how it is overwintered.

  1. Evergreen Agapanthus should be potted and taken indoors for the winter and treated as a house plant.
  2. Deciduous Agapanthus should be planted in a pot and placed in an unheated garage or frost free area. Around the beginning of May, place pot outside in a sheltered area.

Please see the link Are agapanthus winter hardy? for detailed information on overwintering both types of Agapanthus.

With respect to blooming, Agapanthus plants bloom better when they are root bound, therefore only repot when it becomes overgrown and needs to be divided.