- Plant of the Week: Glory of the Snow
- Glory of the SnowLatin: Chinodoxa luciliae
- Additional Images
- Colorful Combinations
- Chionodoxa or Scilla?
- Glory-of-the-Snow Care Must-Knows
- More Varieties of Glory-of-the-Snow
- Caring For Glory Of The Snow Bulbs
- Chionodoxa Glory of the Snow
- Chionodoxa Bulb Care
- Glory of the Snow
Plant of the Week: Glory of the Snow
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.
Glory of the Snow
Latin: Chinodoxa luciliae
IN ITS GLORY — Glory-of-the-snow is one of the minor bulbs that puts in an appearance in late winter or very early spring but it is small enough you must be outside walking the garden path to see it. (Image courtesy Gerald Klingaman)
Bulbs were one of my first garden interests and they remain intriguing all these many years later as I await the arrival of the first slender stems poking through the ground and the flowers that soon follow.
Some consider the couple weeks any particular species is in bloom a poor showing when there are 52 weeks in a year, but gardeners know better. Patiently anticipating the arrival of each species is almost as much fun as actually having them in bloom in the garden. I’m now on the prowl in my garden looking for the first signs of Glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa luciliae, which should appear any day now.
Chionodoxa are small bulbous perennials of the western Mediterranean region with between 6 to 8 species. It is now classified as a member of the asparagus family (subfamily Scilloideae) that was split from the overly large lily family more than a decade ago. Chionodoxa luciliae is native to western Turkey and grows to 4 inches tall with a pair of elongate, centimeter wide leaves produced from each bulb. These leaves emerge in the spring at flowering and disappear in early summer.
Three, 1-inch wide, blue to blue-purple, six-tepaled flowers with white centers are produced on a central scape 3 to 4 inches long in late winter or early spring. Because the bulbs multiply rapidly after the first season, the number of blooms produced seems to be greater than the three found on each flowering scape. A white form and a pink form are also offered in the trade. Most bulb sellers sell these plants under this name but some technical references call it C. forbesii.
The genus name translates from Greek as “chino”snow and “doxa” glory, so the common name is a translation of the technical moniker. The species epitaph luciliae honors Lucille Bossier, the wife of a Swiss botanist who must have scored big time when he named the flower after his wife. The plant was first described in 1877 and the commercial availability of Chionodoxa began about that time.
Chionodoxa is small of stature and to be appreciated in the garden must be massed along a garden path, naturalized in lawn plantings or used as a spot planting in the rock garden. If massed, plant the bulbs in the fall 2 to 3 inches apart and 3 inches deep, preferably using 50 to 100 in a grouping. If naturalized in the lawn, set the mower a bit high the first few mowing to allow the leaves to mature. Herbicide application during the time the leaves are active must be avoided.
They do best in a well-drained garden soil that receives bright light but not necessarily full sun. Avoid planting sites with heavy clay soils. In heavy shade, they disappear after a few years. A planting I made 15 years ago still persists even though it is buried beneath oak leaves each season and the slender shoots must push the leaves aside to make their presence known. If well-sited, the bulbs will produce seed and new plants will arise in unexpected places. So far this has not happened in my garden.
Glory-of-the-snow is hardy from zones 3 through 8.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Retired Extension Horticulturist – Ornamentals
Extension News – February 22, 2013
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.
Glory-of-the-snow typically produces flat, star-shaped flowers that are pale blue with white centers.
Susan Mahr, UW Horticulture
Item number: XHT1169
What is glory-of-the-snow? Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii, formerly known as C. luciliae or C.
What is glory-of-the-snow? Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii, formerly known as C. luciliae or C. gigantea) is a small bulb-producing plant native to western Turkey. It is closely related to (and was formerly included in) the genus Scilla, commonly know as the squills (see University of Wisconsin Garden Facts XHT1166 for more information on Siberian squill). The genus name Chionodoxa is derived from the Greek words “chion” (meaning snow) and “doxa” (meaning glory) and refers to the fact that the plant blooms early enough that its flowers sometimes poke through the snow. Glory-of-the-snow is hardy in zones 3 through 8. Glory-of-the-snow produces small, upward-facing, star-shaped flowers that are pale blue with a white center. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inches wide and have six petals/sepals that spread nearly flat. Each bulb produces a raceme of five to 10 flowers on brownish stems. In addition, bulbs produce clumps of mid-green, strap-like leaves that die back in the summer. The plants grow approximately six inches tall.
In addition to the typical blue-flowered variety of glory-of-the-snow, two other common varieties that you may be able to find at your local garden center are:
•‘Alba’ which has white flowers, and
•‘Pink Giant’ which has pink (actually more lavendar) flowers that are smaller and bloom earlier than the blue variety of glory-of-the-snow.
•‘Pink Giant’ was given the “Outstanding Plant Award” by the Royal General Bulbgrower’s Association in Holland.
Where do I get glory-of-the-snow plants? This ornamental is best initially established by planting bulbs that can be purchased at your local garden center. Select bulbs that are large, firm (not soft), and free of gashes and other blemishes. Avoid bulbs showing any signs of fungal growth (e.g., colorful masses of spores) on their surfaces. Once established in a garden, glory-of-the-snow can be propagated by dividing bulbs (i.e., removing daughter bulbs from mother bulbs and replanting) or simply allowing the plants to self-seed. Seed can also be collected by allowing pods to dry on the plant, then breaking them open. Collected seed can be directly sown outdoors in the fall.
How do I grow glory-of-the-snow? Plant glory-of-the-snow in the fall, placing bulbs in full to partial sun in well-drained soil. Plant the bulbs approximately three inches apart and two to four inches deep.
How do I use glory-of-the-snow most effectively in my garden? Glory-of-the-snow works well in perennial beds. Glory-of-the-snow plants are small. However, because they emerge and bloom so early in the spring (before many other perennials begin to grow), they do not have to be restricted to just the front of a flowerbed. Glory-of-the-snow combines well with daffodils (Narcissus spp.), grape hyacinths (Muscari spp. – see University of Wisconsin Garden Facts XHT1177), crocus (Crocus spp.), and other small spring-flowering bulbs. In addition, glory-of-the-snow can be naturalized in rock gardens, woodlands or lawns. Because it is unaffected by juglone (see University of Wisconsin Garden Facts XHT1017, “Black Walnut Toxicity”), glory-of-the-snow is particularly useful as an ornamental around walnut trees. When naturalizing glory-of-the-snow in a lawn, postpone mowing the area until the foliage begins to die back (about five to six weeks after emergence) or be sure the mower blade is set high enough to avoid removing too much of the leaf tissue.
Finally, glory-of-the-snow flowers sprays can be cut and used for tiny bouquets.
Glory-of-the-snow ‘Pink’Glory-of-the-snow easily naturalizes by self-seeding both under trees and shrubs in wooded areas, and in lawns.Glory-of-the-Snow
Tags: bulb, perennial Categories: Flower Selection
Native to Western Turkey, these cheery little spring-blooming bulbs are one of the earliest to bloom. In fact, glory-of-the-snow are often so early there is still snow on the ground and the small flowers still manage to bloom—hence their common name. These little bulbs are a great option if you are looking for early color and a bulb that will naturalize easily and quickly.
Glory-of-the-snow, with their starry little blossoms, are sure to chase away the last of the winter blues. The small, six-petal flowers in shades of blue, white, and pink are held in small clusters. The blue varieties are most common and feature a striking white center with blue-tipped petals. No matter what color you grow, all glory-of-the-snow make great cut flowers and are the perfect size for a bud vase. The foliage of glory-of-the-snow is long, narrow, and grasslike.
Find more bulbs you can plant in your lawn here.
Chionodoxa or Scilla?
Over the years, there has been much confusion on the proper nomenclature for glory-of-the-snow. At first glance, these plants resemble Scilla, another bulb and close relative of Chionodoxa. So close, in fact, that many consider glory-of-the-snow to technically be a ccilla. On top of that, even within the genus of glory-of-the-snow there is confusion about whether or not the species are the same or different.
Glory-of-the-Snow Care Must-Knows
Growing glory-of-the-snow is as simple as planting a little bulb, dusting off your hands, and walking away. Native to rocky mountainsides, these bulbs aren’t too picky. Like most bulbs, they require well-drained soil. Bulbs in general are at a higher risk of rotting if grown in overly moist soil. Glory-of-the-snow can tolerate drought. When planting, make sure to set the bulb about two to three times as deep as the bulb is wide, so if you have a 1-inch-wide bulb, plant it 2 to 3 inches deep.
As quick as glory-of-the-snow are to rise in early spring, their foliage is almost just as quick to fade. The foliage begins to quickly decline and go dormant just after they finish flowering. This makes them great for naturalizing in lawns as long as you can give them several weeks before mowing them down. It also means you can plant these bulbs just about anywhere in the garden. Sun or shade, they are typically on their way out by the time foliage is beginning to emerge on trees and perennials, so there is no need to worry about them being shaded out.
See beautiful bulb combinations options here.
More Varieties of Glory-of-the-Snow
This variety of Chionodoxa luciliae is a white flowering form of the traditional species. Zones 3-8.
Chionodoxa lucilae offers starry blue flowers that open early in the spring, even blooming through snow. The petals reflex, revealing white centers that add a touch of the clouds to the sky blue petals. It grows 5 inches tall. Zones 3-9.
‘Pink Giant’ Glory-of-the-Snow
Lilac-rose flowers that unfurl in a tall column make this variety of Chionodoxa lucilae unique. It grows 6 inches tall. Zones 3-9.
‘Violet Beauty’ Glory-of-the-Snow
ThisChionodoxa luciliae selection is a beautiful bright pink form of the standby. Zones 3-8.
Chionodoxa sardensis is another great species with bright blue flowers with no white on the petals. Zones 3-8.
Caring For Glory Of The Snow Bulbs
Glory of the snow bulbs are one of the first blooming plants to appear in spring. The name indicates their occasional habit of peeking out through a carpet of late season snow. The bulbs are members of the Lily family in the genus Chionodoxa. Glory of the snow will produce beautiful blooms for your garden over many seasons. Be careful when growing glory of the snow, however, as it may become aggressive and spread.
Chionodoxa Glory of the Snow
Glory of the snow bulbs are native to Turkey. They produce a mass of lovely star-shaped flowers with deep green strappy leaves. Each bulb bears five to ten blooms on thick short brown stems. The blooms are up to ¾ inch across and face upward, showing creamy white throats. The most common glory of the snow bulbs produce blue flowers, but they also come in white and pink cultivars.
Flowers finish blooming by mid to late spring but the bright foliage persists until early fall. The plants grow approximately 6 inches tall and form clumps which spread over time. Chiondaxa is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8.
Plant your spring blooming bulbs in fall. You can use these plants as accents in spring planters or containers, in rockeries, along paths or in the early perennial garden.
Chionodoxa Glory of the Snow Varieties
This native Turkish species covers a range of varieties to choose from. A few of the naturalized species you might find growing wild in Turkish fields include:
- Crete Glory of the Snow
- Lesser Glory of the Snow
- Loch’s Glory of the Snow
There are numerous cultivars of these easy to grow bulbs:
- Alba forms large white blooms, while Gigantea excels with 2-inch wide blue flowers.
- Pink Giant has showy pinkish to lavender flowers that create a bright spring spectacle.
- Blue Giant is sky blue and grows 12 inches tall.
Chionodoxa Bulb Care
Choose a sunny to partially shady location when growing glory of the snow and your Chionodoxa bulb care will be effortless.
As with any bulb, glory of the snow requires well-drained soil. Work in compost or leaf litter to increase porosity if necessary. Plant the bulbs 3 inches apart and 3 inches deep.
Caring for glory of the snow is easy and effortless. Water only if the spring is dry and fertilize in early spring with a good bulb food. You can also plant this flower from seed, but it will take several seasons to form bulbs and flowers.
Leave the foliage on the plant well into the fall, allowing it to gather solar energy for storage to fuel the next season’s growth. Divide the bulbs every few years.
A lovely little flowering bulb from the mountains of western Turkey is Chionodoxa forbesii, also known as “glory of the snow” since it has the habit of flowering so early that it pushes right up through the snow. The first time I saw this species at a garden center it was the cultivar ‘Pink Giant’, and I mistook it for some kind of dwarf hyacinth. Later, when I saw the typical blue flowered form, I immediately realized this was a close relative of Scilla, yet still a member of the hyacinth family.
This dwarf bulb is no giant, regardless of its clonal name. Full grown plants stand between 15-20 cm tall, perhaps a bit higher than the usual wild blue flowered form. This species has true tunicate bulbs that are somewhat elongate with a distinct growing point, each ~ 5 cm long. The leaves, numbering two to three per bulb, are dark green, narrow and somewhat fleshy, and stand erect. They rise synchronously with the flower stalks, and persist only into late May or early June before going into dormancy.
Each bulb can have more than one inflorescence, yet mine seem to be limited to one. It stands perfectly straight, is suffused with purple, and is just a bit taller than the leaves. Flowers number between 5-8 per stem, are held more or less facing upwards, and are around 3 cm in diameter. The six sepals and petals are fasciate, that is, fused at the base and slightly cupped, forming a lovely star shape. The bright yellow stamens and pistol are held in a tight bundle at the flower’s center. Flower color in this variety is more pale lavender, rather than true pink, and as with the blue form, the base of the flower segments are pure white.
As its common names suggests, Chionodoxa are early season flowers, though not as early as Hepatica species or snowdrops, which truly do sometimes break through the snow to bloom. In my southern Japanese garden this plant flowers alongside early blooming Narcissus, usually from late March to early April, some weeks after the latest snowfall. The flowers are fairly long lived, even under rainy conditions, but look best on sunny days.
This genus is confined to the islands of Crete and Cyprus, as well as western Turkey. C. forbesii is found only in southwestern Turkey at higher elevations (>2500 meters), a place where snow persists into this plant’s flowering cycle. Its Latin name reflects this habit, with the Greek words chion meaning “snow”, and doxa translated in this case as “glory”, thus rendering “snow glory”. Interestingly, the original meaning of doxa was “to expect or seem” impling a common belief system (as in the word orthodoxy, for instance), however, during the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, it was assigned a new meaning, “glory”.
There has been quite a bit of confusion in the scientific naming of this genus, with the species C. forbesii, C. gigantea, C. luciliae, and C. siehei often being confounded. From what I’ve read, C. siehei was confused with C. luciliae for many years, and has since been merged under C. forbesii. C. gigantea appears to be a defunct name. For further clarification (?!) reference this 2005 RHS publication – “Little Blue Bulbs”, p. 5. Not surprisingly, C. forbesii ‘Pink Giant’ has been, and continues to be, marketed under a variety of species names. If this weren’t enough, some botanists don’t even agree that the genus Chionodoxa is distinct from Scilla… and so it goes.
Naming aside, this is a wonderful little plant for the temperate garden. Here at 34 degrees north latitude, in an equivalent USDA cold hardiness zone 9a/9b, I think I am pushing its heat tolerance. While I’ve had no problems with rotting during their summer dormancy, my plants do not increase much from year to year, nor do they self seed. This doesn’t surprise me – many temperate plants are at their limit in this nearly subtropical climate, and yet they persist. Another confusing point about this plant – while the blue flowered forms self seed readily, sometimes to the point of being invasive, ‘Pink Giant’ is said to be less fecund. Some sources even report it to be self sterile – something I have not verified for myself as of this writing.
C. forbesii is a very cold tolerant plant, being able to withstand USDA zone 3 even (minimums in the – 40 C range), while also handling areas as mild as zone 8, or even 9. It is often recommended for semi-shady conditions in well drained soils, though my plants grow in full sun and are subject to a very wet early summer monsoon with no problem. In cooler climates this species probably doesn’t want much shade, and may become “floppy” if grown without enough sun. See the excellent article on this plant at Paghat’s Garden, “‘Pink Giant’, Glory of the Snow”, particularly if you are growing them in a cool summer climate.
They are best suited for near neutral soils and like sharp drainage. Again though, my plants have persisted for years in a moderately acidic, rich loamy soil that is routinely subjected to intense and persistent summer rains. I’m not suggesting this is optimal, just that they can withstand it. Of course, boggy or peaty soils should be avoided. If I were more diligent, I suppose I could sweeten my bulb beds with a bit of lime each season, but I haven’t, and losses have been few.
The flowers of Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’ are up-facing, long lasting, and held just above the level of the leaves.
As with many spring flowering bulbs, this species can be force-flowered inside for a midwinter show. Bear in mind though, the cold treatment period has to be at least 15 weeks in duration for proper flowering. The expected time between taking them out and flowering will be around two to three weeks depending on light and temperature.
One interesting option is growing them in turf, as you would with Scilla or Crocus. Such plantings are stunning while in flower (imagine a field of pink and purple flowers), but afterwards may be too raggedy looking for some gardens. The reason is you must allow the bulbs to grow and store reserves for next season, hence you cannot mow until they have gone down, sometime in early summer or late spring. Personally, I’ve always dreamt of having such a field of “wildflowers”, say under a sparse canopy of flowering trees (dogwoods and redbuds come to mind) – an Eden on earth!
So here’s another adaptable, lovely bulb, suitable for almost any temperate climate. If you love small flowering bulbs and haven’t got this one yet, I highly recommend hunting some down.
Chionodoxa forbesii blooming in spring.
Chionodoxa forbesii is commonly called Glory-of-the-Snow because it blooms early enough that its flowers sometimes poke right out of the snow. The genus name is derived from the Greek words chion, meaning snow and doxa meaning glory. This small bulb, native to western Turkey, is closely related to (and was formerly included in) the genus Scilla. Like scilla, it can spread and naturalize under the right conditions and is hardy in zones 3-8.
Glory-of-the-snow normally has blue flowers with a white center.
The small, upward-facing flowers are pale blue with a white center, making them appear almost glassy or translucent. The star-shaped flowers have six petals that spread nearly flat to ½-¾ inch wide. Each bulb produces a raceme of 5-10 flowers on brownish stems. The flowers sprays can be cut for tiny bouquets. The clumps of mid-green, strap-like leaves die back in the summer. The plants grow to about 6″ tall.
The cultivar Pink Giant has pale pink flowers.
This bulb is sometimes still offered under its former names of C. luciliae or C. gigantea. In addition to the blue-flowered species, there are the varieties ‘Alba’ with white flowers and ‘Pink Giant’ with pink flowers. This latter was given the “Outstanding Plant Award” by the Royal General Bulbgrower’s Association in Holland. It blooms about a week later than the blue type, and is more of a lavender than true pink and the flowers are smaller than the blue ones (the name Giant probably refers to the former species name C. gigantea, not the size).
Plant Chionodoxa in the fall, locating them in full to partial sun in well-drained soil. They can be planted under deciduous trees as the bulbs will finish blooming before the trees leaf out. Place the bulbs about 3″ apart and 2-4″ deep.
Chionodoxa easily naturalizes.
These small bulbs are good in perennial beds or for naturalizing in rock gardens or woodlands, and combine well with daffodils, grape hyacinth, crocus and other small spring bulbs.
They can also be naturalized in a lawn, as long as mowing is postponed until the foliage begins to die back (about 5-6 weeks) or if the mower blade is set high enough to avoid removing too much of the small leaves. They are unaffected by juglone, so can be planted under walnut trees. Although they are short, because they are up and blooming so early in the spring, before many other perennials are very advanced in their growth, they do not have to be restricted to just the front of a border. They can be used around hostas as they flower well before the hosta leaves unfurl.
Chionodoxa can be naturalized in a lawn.
Chionodoxa can be propagated by dividing the bulbs or from seed. They self sow readily under ideal conditions. To collect seeds, allow pods to dry on the plant, then break open pods to collect the seed. Collected seed can be direct sown outdoors in fall; if sown indoors they must be stratified to germinate.
– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Glory of the Snow
Bulbs for Fall Planting:
Plant the bulbs as soon as possible once you have received them. If you cannot plant the bulbs as soon as they have been shipped to you, remove the bulbs from plastic bags and put them on trays with damp peat moss or sawdust in a cool, well-ventilated place until you have a chance to plant them. Do not store them at temperatures below 4°C. Generally all bulbs planted in the fall are hardy and do not need any special protection unless specified.
Where to Plant:
The most important rule when planting bulbs is to choose an area that is well-drained. Most bulbs will rot or deteriorate quickly where soil is constantly damp. Most bulbs thrive in full sun, or at least 5-6 sunny hours daily. Within each individual bulb or perennial variety it is stated what type of light conditions are preferred.
Planting Bulbs General Info:
Plant bulbs individually by digging a hole for each bulb with a trowel or bulb planter, or place several bulbs on the bottom surface of a larger hole, then cover with soil. As planting depths and spacing varies depending on the type of bulb, refer to the cultural information found later in this guide. Be sure to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and work in a handful of organic fertilizer such as Veseys Bulb Fertilizer. Then press each bulb firmly into the soil, top pointing up and fill in the hole. When in doubt as to which way is up on a bulb, plant it on its side and let ‘Mother Nature’ decide!
Planting Glory of the Snow:
Plant bulbs in large groups, 3″ apart and 3″ deep to achieve wide drifts of intense blue.
Can be grown under deciduous trees and early blooming shrubs like forsythia or flowering almond. Prefers full sun or part shade, in any soil; and they naturalize well, forming large colonies quickly.
Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ (Photo: Wayside Gardens)
By George Papadelis
As spring approaches, gardeners seek the familiar signs of yet another growing season. Even before trees produce their leaves and the spring equinox arrives, the garden can be alive with color from early blooming bulbs. In February, some warming can bring up an occasional flower or two, but by March, color is almost guaranteed through the planting of crocus, snowdrops, or this month’s featured plant, glory of the snow (Chionodoxa).
Chionodoxa luciliae (Photo: Netherlands Flower Bulb Info. Center)
By late March (sometimes early April), glory of the snow produces 6 to 10 one-inch wide single flowers that last 3 to 4 weeks. Besides their vibrant color, these starry flowers are unique in that each blossom has a distinct white center. The species Chionodoxa forbesii (formerly C. luciliae) has glowing blue flowers, while the variety ‘Pink Giant’ has rosy-pink blooms. Both grow 6 to 10 inches tall. Since the flowers are small, a planting of 20 to 50 bulbs would provide the best show. This is also economically practical since the bulbs are usually inexpensive.
Chionodoxa gigantea (Photo: Netherlands Flower Bulb Info. Center)
Glory of the snow is very easy to grow and amongst the hardiest of all bulbs. Only well-drained soil and some sun are required for good performance. Bulbs should be planted with bulb fertilizer in the fall about 3 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. Glory of the snow self-sows and divides itself very freely to form self-sustaining clumps that may last effortlessly for years. However, best results occur if the younger bulbs or “offsets” are dug up in May and replanted with fresh soil, fertilizer, and adequate space.
The only pest problem may be a hungry squirrel looking for a freshly planted snack. If this is a threat in your garden, some chicken wire buried above the bulbs usually does the trick.
Plant glory of the snow in clumps around trees, in the rock garden, or even in your lawn. It works wonderfully alone or in combination with other spring-blooming bulbs. Later-blooming bulbs such as tulips can also be placed in the same planting hole since they require deeper planting depths of 6 to 10 inches. Glory of the snow thrives in woodland situations if tree leaves are shredded, mulched, or raked off to assist them in spring emergence.
This tiny spring treasure is a must for any garden because of its versatility, performance, and durability. Try it almost anywhere! Just a few minutes of digging in the fall will allow glory of the snow to grace you with its presence for many years to come.
Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa)
Plant Type: Bulb
Plant Size: 5-10 inches tall
Flower Color: Rich blue with white centers (most common); also pink, white
Flower Size: 1 inch wide
Bloom Period: Late March – Early April
Leaves: Narrow, upright sprays
Light: Sun-light shade
Hardiness: Zone 3
Uses: Border, woodland areas, rock garden, nauralizer, lawn
Remarks: Plant in the fall, 3-4 inches deep