Chionodoxa forbesii 'Blue Giant'
Common Name: glory of the snow
Type: Bulb
Family: Asparagaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plant bulbs 3” deep and 2-3” apart in fall. Plants naturalize easily by bulb offsets and self-seeding to form a spreading carpet of early spring bloom. Foliage begins to fade shortly after bloom and generally disappears by late spring as plants go into dormancy until the following spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chionodoxa forbseii, commonly called glory-of-the-snow, is a bulbous perennial that is native to mountainsides in southwestern Turkey. It is among the first bulbs to bloom in the spring, often poking its flowering stalks up through melting snows, hence its common name of glory-of-the-snow. In the St. Louis area, plants typically bloom from mid-March to mid-April. Each bulb produces 2-3 narrow, basal leaves and an upright flower stalk (to 6-12” tall) which is topped in very early spring by a loose raceme of 4-10 star-like, upward facing, six-petaled, soft violet-blue flowers with white centers.

Chionodoxa forbseii is very similar in appearance to Chionodoxa luciliae (native to western Turkey). The primary differences are that C. forbseii has slightly smaller flowers with slightly more pointed tepals on taller stems rising to as much as 12” tall with more flowers (up to 10) per flowering stem.

Plants in the genus Chionodoxa are very similar to plants in the genus Scilla, the main differences being in tepal arrangement. Some experts have merged Chionodoxa into the genus Scilla under the belief that the differences are not significant enough to warrant separate genus status.

Genus name comes from the Greek words chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory for its very early flowering when snow is still on the ground.

Specific epithet honors James Forbes (1773-1861), British botanist who was employed as the gardener for the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey.

‘Blue Giant’ features blue flowers with white centers. Flowers are larger in size than those found on straight species plants. ‘Blue Giant’ is sometimes sold in commerce as a cultivar of C. luciliae or under the hybrid name of C. ‘Blue Giant’.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Nematodes are an infrequent but potentially serious problem in some areas.

Garden Uses

Provides late winter to early spring color to the garden. Best when massed and naturalized in rock gardens, sunny woodland areas, slopes or in lawns under large deciduous trees. Mixes well with other early spring bulbs such as daffodils, species tulips and snowdrops.