The Q&A Archives: snowball bush

Question: Is a snowball bush the same as a white hydrangea? My Dad wants a snowball bush for his birthday. Thanks!!

Answer: There' a lot of confusion about these shrubs. They do indeed have some similarities, and are often mistaken. Let me help 'unconfuse' the situation! Part of the problem is that there are dozens of commonly used varieties of both viburnums and hydrangeas many with similar flowers and habits, and several with round white flowers which are often referred to as snowballs. The white flowering hydrangea that can be confused with the snow ball viburnum is Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' which have huge (8" to 12") rounded flower clusters. It grows to about 4' tall. Viburnum plicatum, commonly called Japanese Snowball Viburnum, has white snowball-like flower clusters, but they are much smaller, only 2" to 3" in diameter. The shrub itself can grow to 15' tall. A third shrub with similar white flower clusters is the Common Snowball, Viburnum opulus var. sterile, "Roseum." This shrub has slightly larger flowers that are 3" to 4" wide, and it's height is somewhere between the other two shrubs growing to about 10' tall. Any of the three shrubs should be planted in a semi-shaded location, protected from afternoon sun. They need moist, but well-drained soil. Water during extremely hot and dry periods, and any of the three should perform well for you.

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