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Care winter snowball: How you should fertilize, prune, propagate, etc. the easy-care winter bloomer!

On the lush branches of the winter snowball plant (also called Bodnant snowball and fragrant snowball) in winter are beautiful, small, white and pink flowers. Hardy ornamental shrub ( Viburnum x bodnantense ) is well suited for planting in flower beds, in corners and garden edges. In spring and autumn these plants look very magnificent. The fruits, which are black-red when ripe and have relatively small flowers, are very decorative. These plants are excellent pollinators, bird and bee attractors for your garden. While the tree can reach a height of 20 feet or more, the medium-sized shrubs in the genus reach only 6 feet tall. Discover how to care for your winter snowball here!

Frost hardy winter snowball care – varieties and flowering time.

Care frost-hardy winter snowball - varieties and flowering time

In your garden center, you can usually find the variety “Dawn”, which is a clone of the fragrance snowball, less commonly “Charles Lamont”. The flowers of this popular garden shrub appear in late winter and early spring, before the leaves appear. Bodnant snowball is a medium-sized, deciduous shrub with several spreading stems. The pink flowers are in clusters, and the leaves are oval and toothed.

Planting Bodnant snowball – location, soil and planting time.

Winter snowball care - how you should fertilize, prune, propagate, etc. the low-maintenance winter bloomer

The first step in planting a scented snowball is to find a planting site. Find a location with well-drained soil that is full sun to light shade. The shrub thrives in humus-rich, moist soil. Soils that are too acidic or alkaline are unfavorable for it. Loamy soils are also undesirable.

The ideal planting time is late spring or early summer. It is best to plant the plants all at once. Make sure that the roots are buried deep in the planting pit and are not exposed to direct sunlight. Before planting, you need to know the height of a fully developed plant for the variety you are growing. A rule of thumb is often to multiply the height of the plant by two to estimate how much space to give it. For example, if the chosen variety is to reach a height of 4 m when fully grown, the plants should be planted 2 m apart. Create a pit with a width of 30 cm and a depth of 30 cm.

Care for winter snowball – pay attention to proper watering.

Winter snowball care tips - what temperature.

Viburnum x bodnantense “Dawn” grows more vigorously in moist soil. Insufficient watering leads to abnormal flowering and reduces the ornamental value of the entire plant. The ability to control water is critical to the survival of the plant. To ensure that the soil is fully absorbent and firmly attached to the root system, freshly transplanted plants should be watered continuously for three to four weeks.

Under extremely hot and dry conditions, 7 to 8 mm of water per week is sufficient. Just keep the soil moist daily. Too much soil moisture reduces air permeability, prevents root respiration, leads to rotten roots, and in extreme cases can even kill the plant.

Is it possible to cultivate winter snowball in a container?

Yes. The scented snowball will grow into a medium to large shrub or tree, so choose a large flower pot or wooden barrel and allow room for it to grow. Cut the plant back upside down each year after flowering to reduce its size and shape into a spherical form. Remove overhanging and diseased branches at any time.

Winter snowball care tips – what temperature.

Scented snowball care - fertilizing


A cool to cold temperature range is the best temperature range for the Bodnant snowball. This plant has a hard time in hot, humid areas and often wilts or dies when exposed to these conditions for long periods of time. Although the scented snowball is a hardy plant, it is better to keep it in a cool to cold climate if possible. It can tolerate short-term heat or humidity.

Winter snowball care – fertilizing

Planned and judicious application of organic fertilizer can increase soil fertility while improving soil structure and organic matter content. Fertile soil promotes overall plant growth and fertilization is essential for growth. Apply an adequate amount of base fertilizer before planting and fertilize every two weeks during the growing season. Fertilize when the sky is clear and the soil is dry. To ensure good growth, fertilize during the dormant season or when leaves begin to fall and before the ground freezes. Wait to fertilize until the tender cuttings begin to grow.

Prune Bodnant Snowball

Planting Bodnant snowball - location, soil and planting time.

Light pruning to remove damaged or dead plant parts or withered branches can be done at any time of year.

Pruning can be done in late winter or early spring to shape and accent the plant. If the branches are heavily intertwined as they grow, only one-third of the branches should be removed. In other cases, you can begin pruning the shrub immediately after flowering but before fruit set. Avoid pruning during frost or extremely cold weather to prevent frost damage.

Care for and propagate winter snowball

It is not recommended to grow Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ from seed. It may take 12 to 18 months. One of the best methods of propagation of the plant is cuttings. Make sure that each soft cutting contains two nodes for both the underground and above-ground components. Mix 2/3 of the excavated soil with 1/3 thoroughly decomposed organic material. Fill the hole with the soft cuttings, lightly press the soil to keep the level of the soil at garden level, and immediately water the cutting.

Common pests and diseases

There are several pests and diseases to watch out for. Some typical pests are:

  • Aphids
  • Red spider mites
  • Thrips

Most of these pests feed on leaves and plant juices. They can be controlled with a strong spray or with a horticultural oil such as neem oil.

Common diseases:

  • Powdery mildew
  • Downy mildew
  • Root rot

All of these diseases are fungal diseases that can be controlled with the right fungicides. But first get advice at your garden center!