Shaftesbury Snowdrop Project – Its a Knock Out

Two of our members, Chrisi and Angela, visited the Shaftesbury Snowdrop Group on Saturday to help with their ‘Its a Knock Out’ event.  This involved the un-potting of Shaftesbury’s National Collection snowdrops, counting them and counting any offsets that may have grown, then potting up the parent bulbs and the offsets separately.

Detailed records are kept: Name, donor, location, no of bulbs, health.  A label is immersed in amongst the bulbs as well as a stick in label put in the top of the pot for easy reference (i.e. double labelling).

Knocking out - The Aquatic pots that the snowdrops are grown in were immersed in plain black pots for display purposes only for the snowdrop festival in February.

Pots are carefully emptied and sorted through in a container, parent bulbs are kept separate from off sets (bulbils that easily separate from the parent bulb).  Vigilance for pest and disease is very important and any bulbs that are slightly discoloured (e.g. yellow, rot…) or soft, any doubts and the batch is put in isolation and pots are disinfected.

Bulbs are potted up quite close to each other as long as they are not touching (this saves space, pots & compost  but also creates a better display when in flower).

Spent compost is disposed of in a dedicated site just in case any bulbils escaped notice and they will then be able to grow on happily in a mixed planting.


There was a lot of root growth on some of the bulbs suggesting they are coming out  of dormancy, ‘knocking out’ could take place in July to make the potting easier.

The mix - there is no one mix recommended, everyone suggests something different but this is what the Shaftesbury group use and they find it works well for them.
5 parts Canna Terra : 1 part vermiculite (or perlite) : 1/2 part John Innes No. 2 compost : 1/4 part cat litter (for water retention)

13cm aquatic plant pots were approximately 1/3 filled with the above mix topped with a 2cm layer of hortcultural grit .  Smaller square 11cm aquatic plant pots were used for off set bulbs

Bulbs were sat on this layer of sand then topped up with the special compost mix and labelled


Gloves - own gardening gloves or disposable gloves (cheap gloves for use when working with the public (e.g. Spontex, 100 multi-purpose disposable gloves)

  Chrisi mixing and potting up

We would like to thank the Shaftesbury group for giving us such a warm welcome and for sharing their experiences and information with us.  We look forward to working closer with you in the future.