Skip to Content

What is a Glory of the Snow Plant?

Here's an in-depth look at the glory of the snow plants where you can learn about their characteristics, reproduction, growing conditions, and uses. We've also added some tips on how to grow and propagate these spring flowering bulbs.

Single bright purple glory of the snow flower growing in deep snow

Genus Chionodoxa

The genus chionodoxa is home to 6 species of perennial flowering plants. This small group of plants comes from the asparagaceae family and the subfamily scilloideae.

Their common name is Glory of the Snow, and this comes form their habit of flowering in the high alpine in which they are native to. These plants are endemic to the eastern Mediterranean (specifically Cyprus, Crete, and Turkey) where they bloom sometimes while snow is still on the ground.

These beautiful perennial plants are an ornamentally valuable plant as they bloom very early in the year and create a beautiful carpet of blue flowers in the garden. Coupled with an early blooming season, they’re also remarkably easy to care for; making for a wonderful option for any green space.

Chionodoxa plants are just one of many different garden plants that we cover in our wonderful list of Flowering Plants from all over the world. If glory of the snow isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, there you will find the perfect flower for your garden, windowsill, or balcony.

Three perfect purple glory of the snow flowers with 6 petals growing in tall green grass

Related: Blue and Violet Flowers | Types of Flowers by Color | Types of Flowers by Alphabet | Types of Flowers |Flower Colors

What do Glory of the Snow Plants Look Like?

Flowers

The main reason for growing a glory of the snow plant is because of its beautiful flowers. Blossoms are borne in loose, one-sided racemes of lovely star shaped flowers.

The tops of these upright stalks have flowers with tepals that are joined at the base. Stamens appear as thin filaments that broaden towards the top where the anthers are found. Anthers are yellow and bear lighter yellow pollen. The anthers and stamens are surrounded by 6 perfectly shaped petals.

Glory of the snow flowers are most commonly a light purple or light blue color, though rarely they are white or pink, depending on the variety. Though their blooming season is early, it fades away quick — bright blue flowers only last about 3 weeks.

Wonderful detailed photo of purple glory of the snow flower with 6 petals and bright yellow anthers covered in pollen

Leaves

The glory of the snow plant grows 2-3 basal leaves. Each leaf is narrow at the base and broadens towards the end. A leaf is a dark green color and is smooth in texture with smooth margins.

Growth Pattern

This short and bulbous plant rarely grows to be any taller than 4 inches and has a grass-like growing behaviour. Stems emerge from the centre of basal leaves and flowers emerge from a single upright flower stalk. They grow from bulbous roots under the ground – like tulips!

Large pink blooming glory of the flowers with tall green leaves growing in a dry landscape

What are Some Chionodoxa Species?

There are 6 known species of the genus chionodoxa that mainly differ in the size and appearance of their stamens and anthers. Chionodoxa flowers have slightly varying colors as well, only growing either light blue, white (the snowdrop variety), or light pink flowers.

1. Cretan Glory of the Snow (scilla cretica syn. chionodoxa cretica) – endemic to Crete, sometimes called the blue giant

2. Dwarf Glory of the Snow (scilla nana syn. chionodoxa nana) – endemic to Crete

3. Forbes’ Glory of the Snow (scilla forbesii syn. chionodoxa forbessi) – endemic to western Turkey

4. Lesser Glory of the Snow (scilla sardensis syn. chionodoxa sardensis) – endemic to western Turkey

5. Loch’s Glory of the Snow (scilla lochiae syn. chionodoxa lochiae) – endemic to Cyprus

6. Lucile’s Glory of the Snow (scilla luciliae syn. chionodoxa luciliae) – endemic to western Turkey, sometimes called the pink giant

Three different varieties of the glory of the snow flower with pink white and purple flowers

Where do Glory of the Snow Plants Grow?

Glory of the snow is a native plant to Mediterranean regions, specifically Crete, Cyprus, and Turkey in cool and mountainous areas. They are accustomed to growing in growing in cool winter temperatures and cool summer temperatures.

They have become naturalized as ornamental plants outside of their native range in places in the United Kingdom, Austria, and the Netherlands as well. They grow very successfully in USDA hardiness zone 4 through 9.

How do you Grow a Glory of the Snow Flower?

The easiest and most affordable way to grow a glory of the snow plant is by purchasing dry chionodoxa bulbs or replanting bulbs that you’ve harvested from the previous season.

These dry glory of the snow bulbs should be planted while they are still dormant. In cooler regions this can be done in the later summer or early autumn, whereas in warmer regions this can be done in mid to late fall or late winter. The best indicator is to simply keep track of when the first frost is due to arrive.

Pick a spot in your garden that receives partial shade sun exposure. Planting bulbs require sunlight during their growing season, and can often be planted underneath deciduous trees and shrubs. This is because a deciduous tree will lose its foliage right around the time when bulbs need the most sun, and will grow it back right when they require more shade!

Your glory of the snow bulbs should be planted about 3 inches deep and 3 inches apart. Plant bulbs with their pointed ends facing up. They should be kept in moist soil that is well drained, and it should never become soggy.

One wonderful aspect of this bulbous perennial is that they act as a wonderful naturalizer for your property. They reproduce both through bulbous growth and by seed, and easily spread across an area like a carpet.

Remember that not much maintenance should be done to the glory of the snow plants. Spring bulbs should not be disturbed by weeding or raking. They don’t even need to be pruned as their decaying leaves help introduce more nutrients to the soil!

Very young glory of the snow flower peeking its head out from decaying fall leaves and fallen balls of hail

What are the Growing Conditions of Glory of the Snow?

Soil Type

Though they are accustomed to living in the dry rocky soils of the Mediterranean alpine, in regions where they are not native to, glory of the snow plants prefer to exist in a fertile soil type.

Soil should be mixed with compost, and it should remain moist and well drained. The acidity level of the soil isn’t too important.

Sun Exposure

One of the more high maintenance aspects of this plant is the sun exposure. The best way to maintain the proper amount of sun exposure is by planting your glory of the snow bulbs below a deciduous tree or deciduous shrub.

Bulbs require sun exposure while they are dormant, and this occurs in the late autumn when deciduous plants will lose their foliage. As soon as the bulb requires shade when it is more established, the foliage of the deciduous plants will emerge again in the early spring.

Water Level

Glory of the snow plants prefer to exist in moist conditions and therefore have rather high water requirements. Ensure that they receive a solid watering if there isn’t any rain for a few days.

Small and charming purple and violet glory of the snow flowers growing in a flower bed with fallen leaves

Temperature

This plant is a cold hardy variety and can tolerate rather low temperatures. They can exist in USDA hardiness zone 4 through 9.

Fertilizer

The easiest way to ensure the fertility of the soil that your glory of the snow plant is existing in is by incorporating a shovelful of compost to the soil. This will both keep the soil moist and filled with organic matter!

Maintenance

Not much needs to be done in terms of maintenance for a glory of the snow plant. They needn’t be deadheaded or pruned, and it is best to leave their leaves to decay as this incorporates organic matter into the soil.

Ensure that the area in which they are growing remains entirely undisturbed — this means no weeding and no raking. Watering should be done gently as well so as to not dislodge the growing bulbs.

Intolerances

All in all, glory of the snow plants are wonderfully low maintenance and wonderfully easy to grow. They can make any novice gardener feel like an expert! Just remember that they like to be watered and that they require partial shade!

Bright white glory of the snow flowers blooming in a pile of late spring snow fall

How is Glory of the Snow Plant Used?

Ornamental Plant

Though it isn’t going to be the centrepiece of show stopper of your garden, this early bloomer makes for a wonderful companion plant for other perennials. They’re often used as a lawn plant or pathway plant and really compliment succulents. They are popular because of their very early spring bloom.

They are commonly planted in a rock garden and in a shaded garden, and are a great naturalizer if you’re looking for a specimen that will help cover a large area with a dazzling carpet of small blue flowers. This is done easily because they reproduce through the regrowth of bulbs and through seeding, creating natural looking woodland gardens.

Incredible large purple blooms of the glory of the snow flower growing in a perennial garden

FAQs