By Gary Wade
University of Georgia
The showy white flower clusters, up to 8 inches across, look just like giant snowballs, only without the ice crystals. Landscape designers say these beauties offer a virtual whiteout of flowers.
It looks best when used as a background plant in the perennial border or woodland garden. There, it disappears into the winter landscape, then pops to the foreground in spring to become a focal point of the landscape.
The flowers of Chinese Snowball come in 1- to 1.5-inch florets clustered together in a ball-like structure called a cyme. The flowers emerge green, then gradually fade to pure white.
More colorEventually, the flowers become light brown, persisting on the plant for several weeks. Sometimes a second flush of blooms arrives in late summer. The flowers are commonly cut and used, both fresh and dried, in floral arrangements.
Chinese Snowball viburnum prefers moist, well-drained soils and afternoon shade. It's not drought-tolerant, so it's vital to water it during times of limited rainfall to keep it healthy.
The plant flowers on old wood, so don't prune until after it flowers. Then prune it as necessary to thin out old branches, open up the shrub, reduce height or develop a better shape.
You can rejuvenate old plants by cutting them to the ground. They may not resume flowering, though, for two years after severe pruning.
Chinese Snowball viburnum is sterile. It doesn't produce fruits or seeds. However, it roots easily from summer cuttings.
It's an easy-to-grow showstopper in the middle of spring. In short, it's everything you'd expect a Georgia Gold Medal winner to be in your landscape.
(Gary Wade is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)