There are many stages of growth for a snowball bush, which is why they are so popular. From dark green leaves to bushy white blooms, to bright red berries, this is a shrub that will bring life to your garden all year round. Learn when to plant a snowball bush and how to best care for it.
When to plant snowball bush: A snowball bush is a hybrid creation that emphasizes its bold white blooms. It is easy to care for. Plant your snowball bush in the fall if your winter is not too cold or in the spring if you are worried about the temperatures. Start with either a cutting of the plant or a small shrub from your gardening center.
Planting Snowball Bush in Different Climates
A snowball bush will not grow in a tropical climate. The plant needs a cold season which a tropical area can’t provide.
Unfortunately, a snowball bush won’t do well in a dry climate. It needs a continuous source of water and you would spend too much time and resources trying to keep the soil moist.
A snowball bush will be fine in a temperate climate. Even though the summers aren’t as hot and the winters aren’t as cold as the bush can tolerate, it will still grow quite well.
The best climate for a snowball bush is a continental climate. It prefers gardening zones 6 to 8, so cold winters are fine and it will appreciate the intense warmth of the summers.
Even though a snowball bush can withstand some cold temperatures in the winter, it still needs more warmth than a polar climate can provide.
Choosing Snowball Bushes
European Snowball Bush
Also known as a Roseum, it is also sometimes called a European cranberry bush, so be careful when trying to find this variety.
These bushes have large clusters of flowers that are 3 inches across. As the flowers bloom, they start off pale green which will then turn to bright white.
Japanese Snowball Bush
This variety will bloom in mid-spring and creates lovely blossoms that are 2 to 3 inches wide. From white, they fade into a dusty pink.
Chinese Snowball Bush
If you want giant blooms, this variety is for you. The snowy white bundles of flowers can grow to be 8 inches across.
How to Plant Snowball Bush
Seeds vs cuttings
The snowball bush is a hybrid plant, which means it doesn’t do well if you try to plant by seeds. Instead, you will have to start with a cutting or a smaller bush already grown at a local gardening store.
You can create a cutting yourself from a bush. Start in the late spring and find a branch that is grown off an established part of the shrub.
Using sharp scissors, cut the branch off so it is at least 6 inches long. Then, remove any leaves from the bottom part of the branch and place the branch in a jar of water.
In a small pot, add potting mix and then dip the cutting into a rotting hormone before placing it into the potting mix.
Water well and keep your cutting somewhere bright but out of direct sunlight. The roots may take a few months to develop but as long as you follow the steps, they will.
Finally, after there is new growth, you can then transplant your cutting into your yard.
There are two times to plant your snowball bush. You can plant in either the spring or the fall.
If you want to plant in the fall, you should live in an area that isn’t too cold. While snowball bushes are fine in colder weather, you don’t want to shock them right away.
Furthermore, if you do plant in the fall, make sure it is before the first frost date. Plant in late September to give your new shrub a chance to establish itself so that it won’t die during the first winter.
Those that are worried about their winter temperatures would do well to plant their snowball bush in the spring. Wait for the ground to be workable, around the last frost date.
Even though a light frost won’t damage the plant, you want to give it the best chance of thriving, so wait until either late April or May before planting.
A snowball bush prefers full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. The blooms might not be as large as you want them to be in partial shade but the plant will still be fine.
Be sure to leave plenty of space around your shrub when planting. Snowball bushes can grow up to 10 feet wide and 10 feet tall, depending on the variety.
Even though you’re only starting with a small plant, make sure there are no structures in the way and there is enough space for the shrub to grow outward.
Finally, a snowball bush will produce small berries that will attract birds. If you love to sit in the morning with your mug of coffee, try to plant your snowball bush somewhere you can see it and the birds.
Snowball bushes are not too particular when it comes to soil. They will grow in most areas but you can help your new plant out by ensuring it does have decent soil.
Start by digging the area up to break up any clumps of dirt. This will also make the soil better draining to prevent root rot.
Add in compost or sand to make the soil loamier.
When digging your hole, make sure it is wide and deep enough for the whole root structure. Angle the root structure so that the top fits right at the level of the ground.
Add your soil in and push it down with a shovel or your foot in order to keep the soil secure. Then, give the area a good watering.
How to Water Snowball Bush
Snowball bushes do not like to be in the ground that is dry. You will want to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Aim for about one inch of water each week if it doesn’t naturally rain. In the summer you will want to increase the water to prevent the soil from drying out completely.
Regularly test the soil with your finger to see if it is moist below the surface. Amend your water habits accordingly.
You can also tell if your snowball bush needs more water in the summer if the plant starts to droop in the late afternoon heat. If it does droop, just add more water in the evenings and mornings.
How to Grow Snowball Bush
To help your soil stay moist, be sure to add a fresh layer of bark mulch around your snowball bush every spring. You can make the layer pretty thick and as it degrades, it will bring nutrients into the soil.
Your snowball bush only needs to be fertilized once a year. If you want, you can work a bit of compost into the soil around your bush, either in spring or fall.
Fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen will target the leaves but won’t produce large blooms, so be aware of this if you go with chemical fertilizer.
A nice aspect of a snowball bush is that it doesn’t need regular pruning. Instead, the bush will naturally grow in a pleasing manner.
You should, however, regularly inspect the bush for any broken branches or diseased areas and remove these right away. If you want, you can give a light trim to tidy the bush up.
If you live in gardening zone 6, you can still grow a snowball bush but you should cover the soil with a thick layer of bark mulch to help keep it insulated.
Zones 7 or 8 will not require winter care.
How long does snowball bush take to grow?
Snowball bushes can’t be grown from seed and therefore you need to start with either a cutting or a small plant. As they will already be started, your snowball bush will start to grow right away.
If you plant in the spring, you might not get blooms right away, but the foliage will still grow. By the second year of planting, you should have lovely white balls of flowers.
Is a snowball bush invasive?
The botanical name of a snowball bush is Viburnum x Carlcephalum. It is a hybrid plant that has roots in China and Japan.
Sometimes, this snowball bush variety is confused with a different plant, with the botanical name of Viburnum Plicatum. It is this version that is invasive.
So, even if someone has told you not to plant a snowball bush, simply double-check the name on the label to ensure you are planting a harmless shrub.
A snowball bush will grow easily and is best for areas that have cold winters and warm summers. Plant your bush in either the spring or the fall and within the year you’ll have gorgeous blossoms.