The Snowball, also known as the snowball viburnum or the guelder rose, is a popular plant to grow and is extremely easy to maintain. A large shrub which is of the flowering broadleaf deciduous variety, the Snowball grows into a dense upright mound, the clusters of three-inch flowers will begin as apple green in color and then they will turn into beautiful white flowers. This shrub does not produce berries, which some cultivars refer to it as “sterile.”
The leaves of the snowball were three-lobed and have a slight resemblance to the leaves of the maple tree, and like the maple, the leaves of the snowball can often turn into a reddish or orange in colour during the fall period. The snowball has graced gardens for centuries, since the 1500s. Gardeners use them as hedge plants though others use them as specimen plants for use in either the spring or during the fall.
Basic Facts of the Snowball
- They are known botanically as the Viburnum opulus, but they have several common names – they have been referred to as Snowball bush, the European viburnum snowball bush, the European cranberry bush, or the Eastern snowball.
- They can grow to a height of twelve feet.
- The Snowball bush is found in Europe, Northern Africa or in Central Asia.
- Snowball bushes bloom in spring.
- They prefer loamy soil with a pH of either six point five, or to seven though they can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions while they grow in full sun conditions or they can grow in partially shaded spots.
How to grow the Snowball
The snowball will grow quite rapidly, so its a good idea to choose the right spot to plant it. The best thing for you to do would be to find a spot, preferably one which allows in a lot of sunlight and allows for the plant to mature into a large size. Some gardeners who see the snowball as a specimen plant or have plans of growing one to fit the bill of a specimen plant will set it apart from the other flowers they’ve grown. These places could be the middle of an island bed, or they could be placed somewhere in the garden where they will become the focus of your garden as you grow things around it.
The shrub is low maintenance though it should only be fertilized once every year and prune it. The best time to grow the snowball bush is during the spring or during fall. The hole should be shallow but make it broad as it will need to spread out. When the plant is in the hole, refill it with the soil you took out. Make sure the root crown remains a couple of inches above the level of the soil. Water down the snowball well. Add mulch around the snowball and put it four inches deep.
Snowball flowers can be cut and entered into floral displays – a good way of encouraging growth for the flowers would be to pinch the spent blossoms.
The snowball, like many other plants, can suffer through disease and bug problems, but measures can be taken to prevent the shrub from causing serious damage. For a start, when planting the shrub in its hole, leave a space between the bush and the other plants nearby to slightly reduce the risk of being attacked by powdery mildew and other diseases. Another risk come in the form of insects, and they are a common problem for the bush. Spray the leaves with the organic pesticide, neem oil to kill the aphids if you see them.
A place in the full sun is the optimal place to grow the snowball, especially in the northern states of America. Ideally, the shrub should be exposed to full sunlight six hours a day and they enjoy it so they can produce many flowers. Sometimes being grown in the partial shade may be the best option, so be sure to get some advice on what type of sun is the best for the flowers.
The snowball prefers loamy soil, ideally well-drained and they can grow in many different types of soil, so they aren’t particular, and tolerates a wide range of pH types. Slightly acidic is best, but not essential.
Always water the snowball bush enough. They prefer to live in evenly moist soil. It doesn’t like any dry ground, so try to schedule a weekly watering. In more extreme temperatures. Add mulch to retain the moisture of the soil, but try to keep it within three inches. This also has the bonus of suppressing weeds. Fertilize the snowball during springtime with either a fertilizer which is slow-release or you can work some compost into the ground, but not too much – the blossoms can be inhibited if the plant is fertilized too much. Some gardeners who find buying compost is too pricey can simply make their own – its easy enough to do; just buy a compost bin and begin filling it with grassing cuttings, old leaves, weeds, peelings of vegetables and fruit from your kitchen, egg shells provide a great deal of nutrition and enriches the compost as well.
The snowball can tolerate harsh winters, but they may not do well in hot climates.