How to Garden A Snowball Bush


Snowball bush, also known as Viburnum opulus or European cranberry bush, is a popular ornamental shrub grown for its large, rounded clusters of fragrant, white flowers that appear in late spring to early summer. The flower clusters look similar to snowballs from a distance, hence the shrub's common name. Snowball bush reaches up to 15 feet high in the home landscape with a spread of 8 to 15 feet. Hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, the bush thrives in most areas of the country with only minimal care.

Step 1

Choose a planting site for snowball bush that receives four to six hours of full sunlight each day and consists of moist, well-drained, fertile soil for the best results. Use a garden tiller to incorporate 2 to 3 inches of organic compost into the soil prior to planting.

Step 2

Plant snowball bush during mid-spring after all danger of frost has passed. Use a shovel to dig a hole of equal depth and three times as wide as the root ball. Loosen the soil around the roots and insert into the hole. Cover with soil and water lightly to collapse any air pockets.

Step 3

Spread a 4-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding the bush to deter weeds, provide insulation and increase moisture retention. Allow at least 3 inches between the mulch and the crown of the plant to minimize the risk of fungal diseases.

Step 4

Water once every week for the first two years of growth to help establish the plant. Reduce watering frequency thereafter to only during periods of extreme heat or drought. Apply water directly to the soil, as wet foliage is more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Step 5

Feed snowball bush once each year during early spring, just before flowering begins. Use a water-soluble fertilizer to easily incorporate the nutrients into the soil. Apply at the rate recommended by the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 6

Prune the bush during early summer, just after all the flowers have fallen from the plant. Use pruning shears to trim away all overgrown, diseased and damaged limbs to increase air circulation and improve the appearance of the plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be careful not to damage the roots during planting, as this can significantly increase the time it takes for the bush to become established.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller
  • Organic compost
  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • Ohio State University: Viburnum opulus
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Viburnum opulus
  • Brighter Blooms Planting Directions: Snowball Bush
  • "Viburnums: Flowering Shrubs For Every Season"; Michael Dirr; 2007

Who Can Help

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: snowball bush, Viburnum opulus, European cranberry bush

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including