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What Is a Snowball Bush?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2014
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The snowball bush is a member of the Viburnum opulus plant species that originated in Europe and Western and Northern Asia. It is a large, rounded bush that gets its name because of the large clusters of white flowers it produces. The white flowers generally last for three weeks. There are two types of snowball bush: Common and Japanese.

During the late spring, the Common snowball bush typically grows from six to ten feet (182.8 to 304.8 cm) tall and just as wide. The bush transitions into fall when the flowers subside and its leaves turn from green to a bright shade of burgundy. During the fall and winter, it produces red berries which are considered by some to be unsafe for humans but are commonly eaten by birds.

The Japanese snowball bush is larger than the Common version and generally grows from seven to twelve feet (213.4 to 365.8 cm) tall and wide. Although it originated in Japan, the bush is widely cultivated in the southern portion of the United States. It is a larger version of the Common variety and grows the same masses of white flowers in the spring and has burgundy leaves and berries in the fall.

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Snowball bushes tend to be used by gardeners as a main focal point. The bush is tall and continues to grow wider, so gardeners may base other small plants around it. Some gardeners also enjoy the bush because it is colorful nearly all year round and is rarely bare. Snowball bushes can also be relatively easy to care for.

Since snowball bushes can grow in full sun as well as partial shade, it can be cultivated in most areas of North America. It generally does not require more than one watering a week and can withstand some drought conditions. Heavy rain conditions or too much watering can cause the roots to become decayed and stop blooming. After the white flowers initially bloom in the spring, the old branches from the previous season need to be cut and removed to revive the bush for the next year’s growing season as well as ensure a neat appearance.

Although snowball bushes are not at a high risk of pest infestation, there are some insects that can potentially destroy the snowball bush and prevent it from blooming. The bush is susceptible to attacks from aphids, spider mites, and thrips, types of small insect that eats plants. Insects can be treated by spraying them with water three times a day.

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anon191663
Post 4

my parents' snowball bush turned pink for the first time - they have had this bush for over 30 years. What causes this? Their other one in the backyard did not turn pink.

anon74046
Post 3

What is the cold hardiness zone for this snowball bush?

anon66111
Post 2

most of the white flowers turn pink as they are beginning to fade away.

Naturenut
Post 1

I have a beautiful snowball tree that I have had for over 15 years. This year the blossoms turned rosy pink at the end of blossoming. And they appear slightly fragrant. I thought the blossoms were always white? Do they always turn pink and I just never noticed it?

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