How to grow Chinese Snowball Bush - Viburnum Macrocephalum
How to Grow Snowball Trees
Snowball trees, also known as Chinese snowball viburnum, are striking shrubs that look great in any garden. Snowball trees are known for their large, globular white blooms that emerge in early spring. Transplant a small snowball sapling into your garden or grow it from a branch cutting from an existing tree. Once your shrub blooms, trim it occasionally to keep your snowball tree happy and healthy!
Planting a Snowball Tree From a Sapling
Pick the right spot to plant the sapling.Snowball trees are generally hardy plants that can withstand most climates. However, if you live in a particularly hot climate, choose a spot in your garden where the plant is shaded for at least part of the day. Snowball trees grow best in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
- Fully grown snowball trees can grow from 12-20 feet tall and wide. Plan your garden accordingly so that your tree doesn’t end up infringing on other plants!
- Buy a snowball tree sapling at a local gardening store or at an online gardening retail site.
Remove grass and weeds from the spot.After you have decided on a spot to plant your tree, remove any weeds, rock or debris from the area. This gives the tree a more hospitable environment so that it can grow without interference. Removing weeds also eliminates the competition for nutrients and water in the soil.
Dig a small hole for the bulb.Dig a small hole about three times the diameter and just deep enough for the root ball. Use your hands or a small shovel to dig the hole. Discard any rocks or stones you may find while digging.
Place the bulb of the sapling into the hole.Carefully take the snowball sapling out of its container. Use your fingers to gently loosen the visible roots of the bulb away from the sides so that they stick out from the bulb. Then lower the bulb into the hole.
- Make sure that the point of the sapling where the trunk meets the roots is 1 ½ to 2 inches above ground level.
Fill the hole up with soil.Take the soil that you discarded when you were digging and backfill the hole. Pat the soil around the bulb to eliminate any space between the bulb and the surrounding earth to ensure that the bulb is protected from the elements.
Spread 4 inches of mulch around the tree.Transplanting can be shocking to a sapling, and the tree will need extra nutrients to ensure it can flourish in its new location. Spread a 4-inch deep layer of mulch over the whole planting area. Mulch enriches the soil and also helps to retain moisture and discourage weed growth.
Planting Snowball Trees From Cuttings
Find softwood branches on the parent tree.Another way to grow a snowball tree is to grow new plants from cuttings taken from the stems of a fully grown snowball tree, or parent plant. To test if a branch has reached the ideal softwood stage, bend the branch. If the branch bends, then breaks into two pieces, it is at the softwood stage.
- If the branch bends but doesn’t break, it is too immature and likely won’t develop into a new tree.
- Take cuttings from the parent tree between March and July.
Cut the branch 6 inches from its end.Use a sharp pair of gardening shears to cleanly cut a 6-inch length of branch. Make sure that the branch has at least two sets of leaves along its length. Try to make the cutting in the morning before the sun comes up to ensure that the shoots are well hydrated.
- Even if you only want to end up with one snowball tree, make several cuttings. Because cuttings don’t have a 100% success rate of blooming into plants, it’s better to use two or three cuttings than to put all of your hopes on just one.
Remove blossoms and leaves.Use your fingers or a small pair of clippers to remove blossoms from the stem of the tree, making the cut close to the stem. Also peel off the leaves on the lower half of the branch, peeling close to the branch. This is the area of the branch from which roots will eventually grow when you plant the cutting.
Dip the branch into rooting hormone powder.Rooting hormone powder betters the chances that the cutting will bloom into a plant. Pour the powder into a small bowl, and then dip the branch into the bowl, making sure that the powder covers the leaf nodes where you peeled away the leaves.
Prepare a seedling flat with potting mix.Purchase a seedling flat with drainage holes in the bottom to plant your cuttings. Fill the flat with a well-drained potting mix that contains around 60% sand or perlite and 40% sphagnum peat.
Plant the cuttings in the flat.Poke your finger into the potting mix to make a hole that is about 2 inches deep. Then insert a cutting into the hole you made, making sure that the end of the branch with the leaf nodes you trimmed is going into the soil and that the leaf nodes are completely covered.
- Press the potting soil around the trimming so that it can stand upright in the container without falling over.
- Water the potting mixture so that the soil is evenly moist.
Cover the cuttings with a plastic bag.Place the tray into a large plastic bag, tenting the top so that the bag doesn’t touch the top of the cuttings. The plastic bag will ensure that water doesn’t evaporate away from the cuttings as they start to take root.
- If you are having trouble keeping the plastic bag from touching the tops of the cuttings, tape tall straws onto the corners of the seeding tray and settle the bag on top of the straws.
- Check the tray every now and then and water the soil when it is dry.
Remove the plastic bag when the cuttings starts to root.After about four to six weeks, the cuttings should start to grow roots. To check for roots, gently brush away the potting soil from the base of the plant, or very gently tug at the plant to see if there is some resistance from the roots. When you notice roots, remove the plastic bag and water regularly to keep the soil moist.
Transplant the cuttings into pots.After about one week from time you removed the plastic bag, transplant the cuttings into small pots filled with potting soil. Do this by gently lifting the plants from the tray, making sure not to break any of the roots. Place the plants into a small hole in the potting soil, then press soil around the base of the cuttings. Water evenly to keep the soil moist.
- If more than one cutting took root, transplant them into separate pots.
- If you wish, you can transplant the snowball trees into the garden two to three weeks after you transplant them into the pots. Make sure not to forgo the potting step before transplanting into a garden.
Maintaining Your Snowball Tree
Use slow-acting fertilizer about four weeks after planting.Reinvigorate the soil by sprinkling a slow-acting fertilizer around the snowball tree a month after you’ve put it in the ground. Slow-acting fertilizer delivers nutrients over a long period of time to keep your plant healthy.
Remove dead or damaged branches.Cut off dead blooms or branches during blooming season, which takes place from March to July. Trimming dead growths from the plant will make the branches grow back healthier and bushier.
- Use a sharp pair of gardening shears to cut off the damaged section.
Remove suckers close to the base of the tree.Suckers are offshoots of the snowball tree that look like thick branches growing on ground level. Because suckers are offshoots of the tree, they cause the tree to divide its nutrients and resources between the main part of the tree and the suckers. Use pruning shears to cut the sucker cleanly close to where its base meets the tree.
- Removing suckers allows the tree to retain all of its nutrients, making it much healthier.
Water when the soil is dry.Check on your plant every week or so. If your area is experiencing a drought or has had very little rain, water your snowball tree. This is especially important when your tree is young and delicate.
- Be sure to water at the base of the plant instead of over the top of the plant. Watering at the base ensures that the roots absorb the water.
Keep an eye out for common pests.From time to time, your snowball tree may fall prey to insect or rodent infestations. Here are some pests you should watch for:
- Tiny, sucking insects like aphids, mites, and scales. To treat, spray your trees with insecticide soap. If you’re using concentrated soap, dilute it to one teaspoon per pint for mild infestations, and four teaspoons per pint for severe infestations.
- Root weevils, which look like white grubs with brown heads. To get rid of these pests, drench the foliage in insecticide soap two to three times per week. Repeat every three weeks until the weevils are gone.
- Viburnum leaf beetle eggs, which look like rows of tiny caps on the underside of leaves. Prune infested twigs and leaves. To prevent infestations, spray the plant in early spring with organic, pyrethrin-containing pesticides.
Treat diseases and blights.There are two common diseases that affect snowball trees: verticillium wilts and canker. Verticillium wilts is a fungal disease that reduces water flow, resulting in yellowing or wilted leaves, stunted growth, and death. Canker is another fungal disease that kills the wood, leaving dead and deformed spots and eventually killing entire limbs.
- You can treat verticillium wilts by pruning the affected limbs and foliage and sterilizing your tools regularly.
- For canker, remove the infected bark until you reach green wood, and be sure to sterilize your tools.
QuestionI have a snowball bush that I purchased three years ago and it has never bloomed. The bush seems to have healthy foliage. Any idea why it is not blooming?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSometimes it takes young trees a few years to yield flowers that bloom fully and consistently. Make sure that the snowball tree is receiving enough sunlight, as limited sunlight can stunt blooms. Also be sure that you are not using over-using fertilizer with too much nitrogen, as this can encourage healthy foliage but not blooms.Thanks!
QuestionWhen should I plant my snowball tree?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPlant snowball trees in mid fall. Make sure not to plant them too close to harsh winter weather.Thanks!
QuestionI live in South Louisiana. We are supposed to have a freeze for the next couple of days. Should I cover the snowball tree that I planted last year?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFlowering shrubs can be quite sensitive to freezes. Although your plant will probably be fine, it wouldn't hurt to give the snowball tree a burlap wrap. To do this, put stakes in the ground around your plant and wrap a heavy burlap layer around the stakes to protect the plant from the cold.Thanks!
QuestionI just planted mine and I was wondering how fast it will grow?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey will reach their optimum height of 2.5-4m in about 5-10 years. They'll grow probably an average of 0.5m per year. Happy snowballing!Thanks!
QuestionDoes this tree bear fruit ( and/or red/orange/yellow berries)?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, the snowball tree doesn't bear fruit, only foliage.Thanks!
QuestionShould suckers be cut off the trunk of a snowball tree?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends. If they are rotting and growing moss, then cut them off. If they seem to be fine, leave them. Make sure to keep monitoring them though!Thanks!
QuestionThere was a lot of rain recently and the tree is now bent to the side. What do I do to get it standing straight again?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could try inserting a T post into the ground about 1 foot away from the tree trunk. Then, wrap a piece of rope around the tree trunk and the post. Be sure to place the post on the side the tree needs to pulled towards in order to make it straight again.Thanks!
Can a snowball bush be planted in large container?
What is best soil for a snowball bush?
How long does a snowball tree live?
Will I need to prune them when they're mature and if so, how can I learn to do the pruning?
Will the Snowball Tree grow on the North side of the house in mostly shade?
- The blooms of snowball trees are great for flower arrangements. Cut the stems at an angle and place the flowers in a vase of water.
- If you cannot find snowball trees for sale locally, check garden retailing sites online.
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