If you’ve never seen flowers in snow before, you’re missing out on a seriously stunning sight. After all, it doesn’t take a botanist to know that flowers and snow rarely make a good pair. But when you capture the two of them together in a snapshot, the results are nothing less than magical.
- Why do some flowers survive in the snow?
- Crocus Winter Flowering: Learn About Crocus In Snow And Cold
- Crocus Cold Hardiness
- Protecting Crocus in Snow and Cold
- Plant of the Week: Snow Crocus
- Snow CrocusLatin: Crocus chrysanthus
Why do some flowers survive in the snow?
As master gardener coordinator Sandra Mason says, “Some flowers laugh at the snow.” Mason explained on the University of Illinois Extension website that certain early flowering plants manage to not only last but flourish among the flakes. For example, the snowdrop, also known as Galanthus nivalis, is native to Europe and Asia but also thrives here in the US, despite arriving as early as February. Glory-of-the-snow, also referred to as Chionodoxa luciliae, is an early flower that blooms in a star shape and comes in three different colors: blue, white, and pink (sounds pretty glorious to us!). Mason says that for flowers that are still emerging as the snow falls, the white powder can actually act as an insulator for the plants in the cold weather. However, if the plant in question already has flowers, it may be out of luck.
That said, other plants are known for braving more than just the occasional snowstorm. We were especially impressed to hear about the snow plant, a truly unique natural phenomenon that does not need the sun to survive. Commonly found in northern California, the bright red plant — which is red all over, not just on its flowers — gets its nutrition from fungi beneath the soil. But considering some plants have the ability to grow in climates as extreme as the frozen ground in the Arctic, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised.
We can’t help but think, however, that flowers growing in the snow might symbolize something much deeper than the heartiness of a certain plant. After all, flowers are usually considered a sign of spring on the way — and spring is widely thought of as a time for new beginnings. So perhaps snow-covered flowers signal that a fresh start or a new chapter is available anytime during the year, no matter how cold it is outside. Who says we have to wait until the snow melts for us to start blooming, anyway? Scroll below to see some of the most gorgeous flowers in snow photos.
Crocus Winter Flowering: Learn About Crocus In Snow And Cold
Around February and March, winter house-bound gardeners are roaming their property, searching for signs of renewed plant life. One of the first plants to poke out some foliage and quickly bloom is the crocus. Their cup-shaped flowers signal warmer temperatures and the promise of a bountiful season. Crocus winter flowering happens in temperate regions. It is not uncommon to see their white, yellow and purple heads surrounded by late snow. Will snow hurt crocus blooms? Read on to learn more.
Crocus Cold Hardiness
Spring blooming plants need chilling to force the bulb to sprout. This necessity makes them naturally tolerant of freezes and snow, and minimizes the chance of crocus cold damage.
The United States Department of Agriculture has organized the U.S. into hardiness zones. These indicate the average annual minimum temperature per region, divided by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. These bulb plants are hardy in United States Department of Agriculture zones 9 to 5.
Crocus will thrive in zone 9, which is 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 to -1 C), and down
to zone 5, which ranges from -20 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-28 to -23). That means that when freezing occurs to the ambient air at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 C), the plant is still within its hardiness zone.
So will snow hurt crocus blooms? Snow actually acts as an insulator and keeps temperatures around the plant warmer than the ambient air. Crocus in snow and cold are resilient and will continue their life cycle. The foliage is very cold durable and can even persist under a thick blanket of snow. Crocus cold damage in new buds is possible, however, as they are a bit more sensitive. Tough little crocus seem to make it through any spring weather event.
Protecting Crocus in Snow and Cold
If a freak storm is coming through and you are really worried about the plants, cover them with a frost barrier blanket. You can also use plastic, soil barrier or even cardboard. The idea is to lightly cover the plants to protect them from extreme cold.
Covers also keep the plants from being crushed by heavy snow, although, in most cases, the flowers will spring back up once the heavy white stuff has melted. Because crocus cold hardiness goes down to -20 degrees, an incident cold enough to hurt them would be rare and only in the chilliest zones.
Spring cold temperatures do not last long enough to do damage to most bulbs. Some of the other hardy specimens are hyacinth, snowdrops and some daffodil species. The best thing about crocus is their proximity to the ground, which has been warming gradually in response to more sun and warmer temperatures. The soil adds protection to the bulb and will ensure that it survives even if there is a killing event for the greenery and flower.
You can look forward to next year, when the plant will rise like Lazarus from the ashes and greet you with the assurance of warmer seasons.
Plant of the Week: Snow Crocus
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not promote, support or recommend plants featured in “Plant of the Week.” Please consult your local Extension office for plants suitable for your region.
Latin: Crocus chrysanthus
Though the blooms of the species crocus are smaller than the modern hybrids, they have much more grace in the garden.
Early spring bloomers are a special treat in the garden. They’re bonus plants magically appearing in unexpected and forgotten places about the garden as we transition from the coldest days of winter to the first hopeful days of spring.
Of all these, Crocus chrysanthus – often called the snow crocus, is one of the smallest but still a favorite.
About 80 species of crocus are known to botanists with a natural range of distribution from northern Africa to central Asia. Mountainous parts of Europe, especially about the Mediterranean region, are home for many species. Crocus chrysanthus makes its home in the Balkan Mountains of southern Europe, an area we became acquainted with a decade ago when civil war raged through the region.
The architecture of this crocus is like the other spring species with up to four blooms produced from each of the small corms. Blooms appear in late winter with flowers produced for about four weeks. The funnel shaped blossoms are an inch or so across and 4 inches tall with a contrasting orange pistol.
Flowers range in color from bright yellow to white and all shades between. Some bicolored selections are also available. One of my favorite is ‘Cream Beauty’ with rich, creamy blossoms.
Because it’s a wild species they often reseed to increase the size of the colony. Crocus, because they bloom before the snow is gone in late winter, have an interesting way of protecting their seed crop. Seeds mature below ground. The blossom is a long narrow tube with the ovary positioned at the base and about three inches below ground. As the seeds ripen with the arrival of warmer spring weather, the peduncle elongates and pushes the seed capsule to the surface.
Crocus don’t garner a lot of enthusiasm amongst many gardeners because they’re small and, for the most part, similar in appearance. But there are exceptions. One such person was a genteel southern gardener named Elizabeth Lawrence (1904-1985). She tells of her experiences growing all of the then available crocus species during the middle years of the 20th century in her charming book, The Little Bulbs.
Lawrence was one of the best garden writers during the middle years of the century because plants were her passion and she was able to express it in her writing. Even as WWII raged through Europe and the normal supply of species crocus was cut off, she managed to acquire most of the then-available species from her extensive network of correspondents. Emily Herring Wilson tells of her life in No One Gardens Alone – a biography of Elizabeth Lawrence.
Growing small plants like crocus present a special problem for gardeners because they are easily overtaken by larger, more aggressive neighbors and soon lost. I like to plant crocus in small, densely packed colonies with as many as a dozen corms crowded into a 6-inch wide hole. Whenever possible, I like to plant these beneath the spreading skirt of creepers like dwarf phlox or dianthus. Such double cropping keeps me from inadvertently disturbing the corms during their dormant season.
Crocuses thrive in a wide range of soils but are best in a reasonably fertile, well drained site. They are best in full sun but will persist in medium shade. Plantings usually make a grand show the first year, but subsequent displays are less dramatic until they settle into the site. If well sited, they are long term survivors. I have been watching some crocus plantings bloom for over 30 years where they survive with no outside intervention.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist – Ornamentals
Extension News – February 17, 2006
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing area.
Although the results of Groundhog Day indicated another six weeks of winter, believe it or not, blooming plants still do exist outside. In fact, there are plenty of flowers that bloom during the cold-weather months, and many of them are gorgeous to boot. Here are a few examples you might find thriving throughout chillier conditions.
Some of these flowers, which often resemble fresh cut red roses, are known as Christmas roses, reports HGTV. Hellebores are long-lived perennials that thrive in shade or patchy sunlight and feature colors like pink, white, rose, burgundy and light green. According to FineGardening.com, different species and varieties can bloom from November to April, lying dormant in the summer months.
These perennials typically bloom all season long, according to the news source. They also thrive in winter sun and require well-drained soil. Some feature bright pink flowers with needle-like foliage, while others include purple flowers with a darker center. Some varieties even have near-white hues with deep crimson centers.
These yellow flowers bloom in January, reports HGTV. Their cheerful petals could provide color to your landscape if you plant them on retaining walls and banks around your home.
These blossoms begin to pop up around Thanksgiving, reports FineGardening.com, noting that the species features fragrant, blue-purple flowers as well as slender leaf blades. The plant lays dormant during the summer months and needs the winter sun to blossom.
Snowdrops usually appear in late November, according to the news source, and usually remain on the ground until shortly after Christmas. However, some varieties are still thriving in February. You can tell a snowdrop from its white-green, down-turned bloom.
‘Jelena’ Witch Hazel
If you’re a fan of orange and red flowers, it’s likely you’ll enjoy this variety of witch hazel, which blooms in January, according HGTV. The blossoms feature wild spirals of orange and red petals. Of course, while all of these beautiful flowers can certainly act as a pick-me-up during the gloomier season, one question remains – where does pollination come into play?
“Many of the plants we see blooming at this time of year don’t get pollinated,” Kerry Barringer, curator of the herbarium at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, told The New York Times. So what gives? It turns out that a couple of warm days could bring out some bugs, but many winter flowers have special adaptations that allow them to be pollinated by wind. Some plants, like the skunk cabbage, have heated flowers that can protect flies and entice them to pollinate, reports the news source.