Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Japanese Snowball Bush
Viburnum plicatum 'Sterile'

Family: Adoxaceae (a-dox-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Viburnum (vy-BUR-num) (Info)
Species: plicatum (ply-KAY-tum) (Info)
Cultivar: Sterile

One vendor has this plant for sale.

16 members have or want this plant for trade.


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Jenks
Thumbnail #1 of Viburnum plicatum by Jenks

By adinamiti
Thumbnail #2 of Viburnum plicatum by adinamiti


11 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive jmgreygoose On Jun 6, 2011, jmgreygoose from Maryland Heights, MO wrote:

When I was a kid in Missouri my Grandmother always said it would stay very chilly and spring wouldn't start until the snowball bushes bloomed. I have always found that to be true. It certainly was this year. Ctlvr

Positive sewgirl1 On Jun 6, 2011, sewgirl1 from Ottawa, Ontario
Canada wrote:

We moved into our present home in August of 2010. I trimmed back an extremely overgrown, droopy looking, unknown species of tree. As of May, this unknown tree is LOADED with an abundance of beautiful snowball blooms! What a beautiful tree and what a wonderful surprise! I've always wanted one so it was like finding buried treasure to see it come into bloom. Needless to say I am a VERY amateur gardener, not being able to identify my treasure tree.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Positive pink_petal On Apr 15, 2010, pink_petal from Cumming, GA wrote:

I planted this as a shrub 3 years ago and cut it back for 2 years in Autumn. Then I saw how big it can get in someone elses garden and I loved it. So did not cut it back last Autumn. Wow, it is huge. The flowers are not that big but there many of them: ARE ALL GREEN, NOT WHITE?
Question..Will the flowers turn white. Are the green flowers fertile? How do I get it to produce seed?
I love the plant though, great for blocking the view next door. Very early spring showy bush.

Positive wendymadre On Apr 12, 2010, wendymadre from Petersburg, VA wrote:

I live in Zone 7A, in Petersburg, Virginia. A friend gave me a small snowball viburnum about twelve or thirteen years ago, in a one-gallon pot. It didn't do a lot the first couple years, although it began to bloom vigorously after that. I planted it at the end of a garden wall and after about five years, I began to limb it up, in effect making it a little tree with three main trunks. It is quite lovely as a little tree, with the Fairy Rose growing next to it, as well as azaleas, ferns and artemesia. I still have to prune away any upstart stems that grow from the roots or sprout out on the trunk. The winter of 2009/2010 was colder than usual, but Snowy is full of blossom heads getting ready to open. I don't always get around to fertilizing it, but it blooms anyway.

Positive WigglyPaw On May 8, 2009, WigglyPaw from Hastings, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I planted this two years ago, and its taken that long to just acclimate, like every other plant here on this farm. It seems the third year is the charm. Snowball is leafing out pretty grass green, and has green floret things happening. I will be impressed that it has survived another Michigan winter and that it is going to be blooming, and happy in this spot where I can see it when I hang laundry and go back and forth from the chickens.

Positive GardeningGramma On Oct 24, 2007, GardeningGramma from Elma, WA wrote:

I live in zone 7a/7b and my snowball bush does very nicely here. There are quite a few around this area. Some are very old. They take the freeze quite well.

Positive cjmslm On Apr 24, 2005, cjmslm wrote:

My snowball is beautiful. I live two blocks from the beach in Myrtle Beach, SC. The first two years it didn't do much, but then it grew up and out several feet and started blooming each spring. There are so many blooms the branches droop. I've had it about 4 years and haven't pruned it yet. It's about 8 feet tall now. It's beautiful even thought I haven't given it exceptional care. Needless to say it gets lots of sun and the winters haven't been too bad. It seems to bounce back even after severe weather (heat & cold).

Neutral Todd_Boland On Jan 27, 2005, Todd_Boland from St. John's, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This selection has flowers that are essentially the same as the European Snowball Bush, V. opulus 'Sterile' or 'Roseus'. However, the foliage is typical of V. plicatum. Being streile, no fruit are produced.

Positive JETTYBANE On May 30, 2004, JETTYBANE from Fort Payne, AL wrote:


Positive coconuts1964 On Apr 24, 2004, coconuts1964 wrote:

I bought this bush two or three years ago. I thought it would remain small. Boy was I wrong. It is 6 foot tall now and has blooms everywhere. I just planted it and let it go. I trim the limbs in the late fall. I live in Kentucky.

Neutral LouisianaSweetPea On Apr 22, 2004, LouisianaSweetPea from Mount Hermon, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Surprisingly, this plant is growing in coastal Louisiana (Zone 9a). In the two years since it was planted, it has bloomed twice, despite being almost killed by an unusual winter freeze. This viburnum hasn't shown any spectacular growth, probably due to the summer heat (and also its total neglect), and because the freeze killed some of the top portions. Still, it is a nice-sized shrub with nice leaves and the spring blooms are beautiful.

Positive nipajo On Jul 7, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

i have had great success with my snowball. it has bloomed every year. what i like is the green color that turns white. i have pruned mine every year after the bloom so i can keep it compact and that it will not get to big.

Neutral KlamathWoman On May 30, 2003, KlamathWoman wrote:

When I was a kid there were Snowball Bushes everywhere. That was in the Klamath Falls area (Southern Oregon) where it is very arid and a high elevation. But everyone grew them, and they were huge. Now I garden in Portland, and I have not seen a Snowball Bush in many years. I don't even see them for sale in local nurseries.

Positive WingedJewel On May 3, 2002, WingedJewel wrote:

This is one bush that I have in my neglected part of the yard where my kids play. I hardly ever do anything to it, but prune it trying to make is bush out. It is in partial shade and has done well for many years.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bessemer, Alabama
Montevallo, Alabama
El Dorado, Arkansas
Baywood-los Osos, California
Boulder Creek, California
Redwood City, California
San Mateo, California
Santa Ynez, California
Craig, Colorado
Lake City, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Cumming, Georgia
Dahlonega, Georgia
Douglasville, Georgia
Evanston, Illinois
Mapleton, Illinois
Elgin, Iowa
Georgetown, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Chalmette, Louisiana
Chestertown, Maryland
Watertown, Massachusetts
Dearborn, Michigan
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Hastings, Michigan
Walled Lake, Michigan
Isle, Minnesota
Mathiston, Mississippi
Ruth, Mississippi
Maryland Heights, Missouri
Fairmont, Nebraska
New Boston, New Hampshire
Moriarty, New Mexico
Kingston, New York
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Stoneville, North Carolina
New Richmond, Ohio
Perrysville, Ohio
Swanton, Ohio
Cheshire, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Cochranville, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Tyrone, Pennsylvania
Wakefield, Rhode Island
Charleston, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Effingham, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Swansea, South Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee
Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
Pulaski, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Rockport, Texas
Edmonds, Washington

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