Snowball Bush (Viburnum opulus 'Sterile')

on Wednesday, April, 28 2010 @ 02:19:45 pm (388 words)
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Snowball Bush (Viburnum opulus 'Sterile')
Snowball Bush - Close
Snowball Bush - Close

A lot of confusion exists over the snowball bush as this common name is used for several plants, including a variety of hydrangea. Furthermore, there is a difference in appearance between the wild Viburnum opulus and the cultivated one. If one is looking to plant a particular snowball bush in one's garden then one needs to establish which particular species before heading out to the garden centre or nursery. I have found that even nurseries are often confused on which species of snowball bush they are selling, so be vigilant.

The most common snowball bushes found in gardens are the Old Fashioned Snowball Bush (Viburnum opulus ?Sterile?), Common snowball (Viburnum opulus 'Roseum'), Japanese snowball (Viburnum plicatum); and the Chinese snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum). The snowball bush in my back garden is the Viburnum opulus 'Sterile'. The Viburnum opulus 'Roseum' gets it name from the petals of the snowball turning a faint pink colour as the blooms start to fade. My snowball bush is sterile and does not produce the red berries as some of the other varieties do. The snowballs first appear as light green in colour and turn to snow-white in colour as they mature. The flower clusters can be quite large; sizes of 20 cm (8 in) are not uncommon. My Viburnum opulus blooms in the spring and the blooms will last a few weeks before they start to drop.

Snowball bushes are easy to grown and require little maintenance. While they prefer full sun, they can do well in partial shade. As with most plants, they do not like to stand in overly wet soil for long periods of time and root rot can occur if they do. You want to plant snowballs in a soil that is rich in humus and drains well. You don't want to over water; no more than once a week should maintain the water content of the soil for proper growth and flowering. Snowballs can tolerate a range of ph, either alkaline or acid soils. It is important to understand that snowballs are spring bloomers; if you prune, you should prune after the blooms are gone or you will be removing the flower buds. Snowballs, if left to grow naturally, will reach a height of 3-4 meters (10-14 feet) with a similar spread.


Comment from: Ron [Visitor]
RonWow, these blooms are spectacular, Kimmy! Your photos are always so professional. These are great shots.
04/28/10 @ 15:58
Comment from: Michone [Visitor]
MichoneHi…lovely photos. Looks just like mine but I am wanting to move mine. When can I do so and will it survive? Its about 14 years old. Its so messy and not in a good place. I hope to hear back from you. Michone
05/28/10 @ 13:07
Comment from: kimberly [Member]  
KimmyFirst of all, I have never moved an established snowball bush and I can only offer general advice. As I mentioned in the article, any pruning is usually done after the blooms are gone so the shrub can set new buds for next year’s blooms. If pruned late in the season; late summer or early autumn, you will be removing those buds and you will not get blooms next year. You stated your snowball was messy, so you might consider waiting to move it until the autumn and go ahead and trim the branches. The key to moving any plant is to get as much soil around the roots as possible depending on the size of the plant. A snowball bush as large as mine would require taking a large root ball with it. I would not try to relocate the bush until this autumn; moving it now would put too much of a stress on the plant. Take as much soil (root ball) with the bush as is possible. As for survival, that is hard to say as all plants are different; however, it it needs to be moved then that is a chance you may need to take. I wish you the best of luck.
05/28/10 @ 14:19
Comment from: Jacqueline Hayes [Visitor]
Jacqueline HayesHello, I simply love these snowball bushes and have seen them in other folks front yards and backyards. When do I plant the bush and is the bush which comes back every year? Can I plant once and let it come back on its own without doing anything to it? I live in Chicago and it is now summer.
06/25/10 @ 12:00
Comment from: kimberly [Member]  
KimmyThis plant is a shrub, not the bush varieties which are hydrangeas, and will continue to grow each season. You may find sections that die off and just prune off those sections. They can eventually get quite large. I look forward every spring to my snowball bush blooming. You can plant one now if you are getting one that is in a container or burlapped root ball. I would not try to transplant one at this time of the year. Dig the hole for the bush two to three times larger and deeper than the root ball or container it arrives with/in. Add plenty of organic material, top soil, humus, compost, etc. Keep it well water as it sends out new roots, but don’t water to the extreme that the bush is standing in water or you will drown the roots. I hope this helps, -Kimberly
06/25/10 @ 12:22
Comment from: Jesse Williams [Visitor]  
Jesse WilliamsCan you tell me how to root a Snowball Bush? I got a cutting of it by cutting the stem sideways, and I put it in fresh water. Will it root?
04/11/14 @ 19:52
Comment from: kimberly [Member]  
KimmyI have not done a rooting from my snowball bush but may try since you mentioned it. You want to take a cutting with a clean knife or shears (you don’t want to introduce bacteria on the cutting) from one of the flexible softwood stems. Leave about two or three leaves on the stem. I would recommend getting some sterilised potting soil and use it for the rooting. Place the potting soil in the container (I save my old nursery pots for this) and thoroughly soak the potting soil until you are sure it is completely soaked. If you have rooting hormone, then dip the cutting into water, gently shake off the excess water and dip the cutting into the rooting hormone, and then poke a hole in the potting soil with a pencil. Place the cutting into the hole and push the soil around the cutting. You want to keep the potting soil moist but not overly saturated with water. Don’t let the potting soil dry out. If you need to take a cutting away from home where you can not immediately take care of the cutting, then you can wrap the cutting in wet paper towels or place the cutting in a jar of water for transport. Good luck on your rooting.
04/11/14 @ 21:04

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