Customers are always looking for a ‘Snowball Bush’. It’s never a simple request as multiple plants have taken on this common name. Determining when it blooms can usually narrow things down. If it’s late spring, it’s probably Viburnum opulus (European Cranberry Bush) which is native to our area and produces a round ball shaped flower, quite showy in the late spring. Unfortunately this plant has succumbed to the Viburnum Leaf Beatle in addition to being susceptible to some leaf spot diseases so therefore not the best choice for the landscape.
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It could also be Viburnum carlesii (Koreanspice Viburnum) which also produces a ball shaped white flower in the late spring with a wonderful spicy fragrance. There is also Viburnum x burkwoodii (Burkwood Viburnum) which is similar to carlesii only with larger matt finish leaves vs the shiny foliage of carlesii. These Viburnum are resistant to the Viburnum Leaf Beetle and easy to grow. It does get rather larger so adequate space is required.
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If it blooms in summer it could be a couple different types of Hydrangea. Our native Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth Hydrangea) is commonly seen around many older homes as a 3-4’ arching shrub with large round white flowers starting in the summer and lasting into fall eventually fading to a greenish color and drying to brown. This plant can tolerate full sun as well as a very shady site and is very easy to grow, consistently blooming each season rather you cut it to the ground or not. Some new cultivars of this old standby are ‘Invincible Spirit’ which is a pink flower and ‘Incrediball ‘which produces soccer ball sized white flowers.
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The other Hydrangea it could be is Hydrangea paniculata (aka) Peegee Hydrangea commonly seen in cemeteries growing into a massive small tree covered with large oval shaped white flowers in the late summer which fade to a dusty rose. This Hydrangea is also very hardy and easy to grow requiring a full sun location. The original Peegee is not used as much anymore with the introduction of all the improved varieties such as Limelight, Little Lime, Bobo and more.
Photo credit: enbodenumer via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA
So if you are looking for a Snowball Bush, you’ll need to have a little more information when you start shopping.