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Viburnum plicatum (Japanese Snowball)

Japanese Snowball

Viburnum plicatum, Japanese Snowball

Viburnum plicatum, commonly known as Japanese Snowball, is a deciduous shrub renowned for its stunning spherical flower clusters resembling snowballs.

Viburnum plicatum: An In-depth Look

Native: This plant species is native to Japan and China.

Plant Type and Habit: It’s a deciduous shrub that usually maintains an upright, multi-stemmed habit.

Size: The shrub typically reaches a height of 8-15 feet (2.4-4.5 meters) and can spread 10-18 feet (3-5.4 meters) wide under optimal conditions.

Flowers: The eye-catching feature of this plant is its white, snowball-like flower clusters that can be as large as 3 inches (7 cm) across. The flowers are sterile, non-fragrant and are borne along the branches. The shrub usually flowers in mid to late spring, providing a splendid display for several weeks.

Fruits: Unlike its tomentosum counterpart (Doublefile Viburnum), Japanese Snowball does not produce berries.

Foliage: The dark green leaves are broadly ovate, toothed and strongly-veined. They have a pleated appearance, giving rise to the name ‘plicatum,’ meaning ‘pleated.’ In the fall, the leaves often change to attractive shades of burgundy or red, adding seasonal interest.

Hardiness: It is winter-hardy in USDA zones 5-8.

Uses: Due to its ornamental features, Japanese Snowball is often used in mixed borders, as a standalone specimen, or even as a flowering hedge.

Wildlife: While it doesn’t produce berries to attract birds, the flowers can attract pollinators such as butterflies.

Deer and Rabbits: The shrub has moderate deer resistance, which means it may escape browsing in areas with low deer pressure. Rabbits generally avoid it.

Toxicity: Viburnum plicatum is generally considered non-toxic to both pets and humans.

Drought: While it prefers moist, well-drained soil, it’s relatively tolerant of short periods of drought once established.

InvasivenessFind where this species is invasive in the United States. Discover beautiful U.S. native plant alternatives.

Benefits: Key benefits include ornamental value, relatively low maintenance requirements, and resistance to common pests and diseases.

How to Grow and Care for Japanese Snowball

Light: Prefers full sun to partial shade. The more sun, the more flowers.

Soil: Well-drained, loamy to sandy soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

Water: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Drought-tolerant once established.

Fertilizer: Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring. Organic matter like compost can also be beneficial.

Pruning: Best to prune right after flowering not to affect next year’s blooms. Remove any dead or diseased branches.

Propagation: Softwood cuttings are most successful when taken in late spring or early summer.

Pests and Diseases: No serious insect or disease issues. Keep an eye out for aphids, scale insects, thrips, or viburnum beetle. Occasional disease problems include leaf spot and powdery mildew. Apply appropriate treatments as needed.

Follow these guidelines to give your Viburnum plicatum the best chance for a healthy, vibrant life in your garden.

Viburnum: How to Grow and Care with Success


Want to learn how to grow and care for Viburnum like a pro? Follow these simple steps and enjoy the beauty of these striking shrubs.

Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Adoxaceae
Genus Viburnum
Common names Viburnum, Japanese snowball
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 8' - 15'
(240cm - 4.6m)
Spread 10' - 18'
(3m - 5.5m)
Spacing 120" - 216"
(3m - 5.5m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Drought
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Hedges And Screens, Wall-Side Borders
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, Informal and Cottage
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Viburnum opulus ‘Nanum’ (European Cranberrybush)
Viburnum odoratissimum (Sweet Viburnum)
Viburnum farreri (Farrer Viburnum)
Viburnum setigerum (Tea Viburnum)
Viburnum ‘Pragense’ (Prague Viburnum)
Viburnum macrocephalum (Chinese Snowball Viburnum)

Recommended Companion Plants

Rhododendron ‘English Roseum’
Myosotis sylvatica (Wood Forget-Me-Not)
Hosta (Plantain Lily)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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Add a Splash of Color: Perfect Flowering Shrubs for Small Gardens
35 Flowering Shrubs That Thrive in Full Sun
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Viburnum – What Is Wrong With My Shrub?
Viburnum – Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
Viburnum: How to Grow and Care with Success
10 Creative Ways to Incorporate Viburnum in Your Garden
Why You Should Avoid Growing Invasive Viburnums
Native Viburnums: Ideal Shrubs for Your Garden
Viburnum
Create a Garden with Great Winter Interest
Shrubs and Trees with Colorful Fruits and Berries in Winter
Native Plant Alternatives to Viburnum opulus (European Cranberrybush)
Native Plant Alternatives to Viburnum plicatum (Japanese Snowball)
Native Plant Alternatives to Viburnum dilatatum (Linden Viburnum)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Adoxaceae
Genus Viburnum
Common names Viburnum, Japanese snowball
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 8' - 15'
(240cm - 4.6m)
Spread 10' - 18'
(3m - 5.5m)
Spacing 120" - 216"
(3m - 5.5m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Drought
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Hedges And Screens, Wall-Side Borders
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Viburnum
Not sure which Viburnum to pick?
Compare Now

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