Every year I look forward to the big, white, beautiful blooms of the Snowball bush viburnum. They are one of the first shrubs to flower in the spring and never fail to disappoint with their large, round flower heads that produce snowball-like flower clusters. The flower buds start off a lime green and bloom into a creamy white color. It’s a dense bush that can grow 10- 12 feet tall and up to 8 feet wide, especially when it really loves where it ‘s planted. In the Midwest the Snowball Viburnum blooms in late spring around If you’ve ever wanted to grow a snowball bush viburnum and wanted to know how to with care and planting tips, this is a great place to start! Butterflies and hummingbirds love this plant and it makes a great privacy screen due to it’s density and height. If you watch the video below you can get a closer look at a snowball viburnum in my yard.
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There are many varieties of Snowball Bushes including the Japanese snowball bush, the Chinese snowball viburnum and the most common variety that we are going to talk about today, the European/common (Eastern) snowball bush.
A midwestern favorite, plant this with your vibrunum… the Oakleaf hydrangea!
The Eastern snowball bush, also known as Viburnum Opulus ‘Roseum’ or ‘Sterile’ is a hardy shrub that grows in planting USDA hardiness zones 3-8 and are semi-evergreen. They can reach about 10-12 feet in height and almost 8 feet across with mounds and mounds of showy blooming flowers that measure 3-5 inches across.
Like other viburnums, the snowball bush loves full sunlight (but will do OK in some partial shade) and in the best growing conditions will have a growth rate of almost 2 feet a year! Some of the dwarf varieties may grow slightly slower. They can tolerate drought, but love even moisture and will produce a smaller flower yield if they experience a dry spring. It loves well-drained soil and to have a thick layer of mulch.
The one caveat is that this type of viburnum is it subject to a few plant diseases and common pests such as bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew, aphids (which can be controlled with insecticidal soap) and the worst is the dreaded viburnum beetle. It’s a terrible, small, brown beetle that will defoliate your viburnum in the matter of a week or two with a heavy infestation that can kill your shrub. Mine was attacked a few years ago and I was able to save it. I have another post coming on the steps I took to save it after it was almost skeletonized.
Snowball viburnum flowers are interesting in that they resemble hydrangeas, but one of the many differences are their growth habits. The Eastern viburnum flowerheads tend to grow and hang loosely in an alternate pattern with 4-7 blooms the along their branch, and seem to give a little “quake” or “simmer” in he breeze or when shaken. Hydrangeas are more static on the end of their stiff stems . There is something sweet and romantic with the way the viburnum flower-heads move in the breeze. This variety also happens to be fragrance-free. If you prefer scent, plant a more fragrant snowball variety such as Viburnum Carlesii.
To keep the growth under control, prune your viburnum in summer after the blooms have faded. You might find you might also do a little pruning naturally when you cut those amazing branches with striking lime-green leaves of quaking blooms for a vase-filler. I love to clip mine when the heads are small and green, and then again when the flowers fill out and are full and white.
A snowball viburnum is a beautiful addition to any landscape, makes a gorgeous vase filler and is a wonderful backdrop or starring-role shrub in your yard and pairs well with Lilacs.