Viburnum macrocephalem / Snowball viburnum

Viburnum macrocephalem, snowballI’ve finally learned how to prune this plant and NOW I like it, as do visitors to my garden, who exclaim over it every spring. So I recommend it for its extremely showy flowers and its outstanding performance as a low-maintenance, high-impact plant in the garden. My earlier (incorrect) pruning caused its large flowers to weigh the branches down. But lucky readers, you’ll know better and your snowball viburnum will look great (see “Care” below).

Native to China.

Details

  • Moderate/fast grower to 12′ tall.
  • Blooms in early spring reach 8″ across, beginning a lime color and maturing to pure white.
  • Likes full sun or partial shade.
  • Hardy to Zone 6.

Care

  • Hardy plant expert Michael Dirr recommends hacking back to 2-3 feet from the ground every year. Emboldened by this advice, I did this once and it regained its original height in only 2 seasons, with a much better form.
  • Alternatively (and less drastically) you can simply cut back one-third of the stems each year after blooming to 2-3 feet from the ground. Removing the oldest stems every year will produce a good-looking form, with stems able to hold up under the weight of the large blossoms. It’s easy! Start this renewal pruning after the shrub is full-grown and starts to droop or any time you notice a too-tall or errant stem.
  • Reasonably drought-tolerant, mine gets watered only during long droughts.