What is a Japanese Snowball?

Amy Hunter

The Japanese snowball,or Viburnum plicatum, is a deciduous, ornamental shrub. It is native to Japan, Taiwan, China, and eastern Asia. It was imported to the United States, where it is hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 6 through 8. The flowers of the Japanese snowball are generally sterile, and it is cultivated through cuttings.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

The Japanese snowball bush gets its name for its large, white, showy flowers. These blooms are impressive and long-lasting, both on the shrub and as part of a cut flower arrangement. The leaves of the bush accent the flowers. They are between 2 and 4 inches(5 to 10 cm) long, and 1 to 2.5 inches(3 to 6 cm) wide. The leaves are oval, and arranged opposite each other along the stem supporting the flowers.

The shrub is generally easy to grow and maintain. It is deer resistant and long blooming. The blooms remain on the shrub from mid-spring through the summer and into the fall. Red berries develop late in the summer and ripen to black in the fall, when they attract birds and other small wildlife as a food source. The leaves are dark green in the spring and summer, and turn varying shades of purple and dark red during the fall.

The Japanese snowball bush grows well in full or partial sun. It likes well-drained, slightly moist, soil. It grows well in soil that is neutral to acidic. When planting the Japanese snowball bush, dig a space one and one-half the size of the container the shrub is currently in. Mix some organic matter, such as compost, into the hole before planting. Lower the shrub into the hole, and fill the area around the shrub with soil and organic matter. Water thoroughly once planting is complete. Shape the Japanese snowball by pruning after the flowers have bloomed.

The Japanese snowball bush is a popular choice for ornamental plantings because of its impressive appearance and ease of growing. It matures at a medium rate, and when mature is between 10 and 15 feet(3 to 5 meters) tall. If planting a row of Japanese snowball bushes, allow between 12 and 15 feet(3.6 to 4.5 meters) between each plant. This provides them with the room they will need when mature.

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