Snowball Bush: a riot of white pom-poms
Tehachapi Gardener's Choic
November 25, 2023
The Tehachapi Mountains have at least some snow every winter, but you can make sure that your yard has plenty snowballs even in drier years if you plant a Snowball Bush or two. These appropriately named shrubs produce large, globular white blossoms that do in fact resemble carefully crafted snowballs. In spring they are loaded with flowers, and they will bloom for weeks. There are a number of different species of Viburnum that are referred to as "Snowball Bush," including the European Snowball Bush, Chinese Snowball Bush, Japanese Snowball Bush, etc.
Apparently these shrubs get very tall in some climates -- up to 10 feet or more -- but in our area they are more well-behaved bushes that usually don't grow taller than 4-6 feet and retain a fairly compact shape even as they grow taller.
The big white blossoms of a Snowball Bush work well as cut flowers and will stay fresh longer than some shrubs, such as lilacs, but many Viburnum species are not particularly fragrant. The ivory white pom-poms look great in a light bedroom or in a sunlit bathroom, however. Some species of Snowball Bush produce blossoms that start out pale greenish and lighten to white as the flowers age.
Most species of Snowball Bush will produce berries in autumn that birds like to eat, and for that reason Snowball Bush is recommended in gardens designed to attract wildlife. Snowball Bush likes full sun but is able to tolerate partial shade. They do need some supplementary water in summer, but they are not known to be particularly thirsty plants.
Fall is a good time to put in Snowball Bush (and other shrubs or trees) because that gives the plants a chance to get established before having to face the heat of summer. Once established, these long-lived shrubs can thrive for many decades. Local nurseries have good varieties of Snowball Bush available.
Botanical name: Viburnum ssp.
Starting: Young plants.
Size: 4 to 8 feet tall.
Exposure: Full Sun, partial shade.
Watering: Occasional, deep watering.