Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) – The Complete Guide

The snowberry (Symphoricarpos) captivates with enchanting summer blossom, unique fruit decoration in autumn, and good-natured undemandingness.

Young and old alike are delighted when the white berries burst with a bang. The following answers to common questions show how easy it is to care for the plant.

Planting Snowberry

If you choose the deciduous period from November to March as the planting date, you will create the best starting conditions for the snowberry.

In a sunny or semi-shady location in normal garden soil, create a spacious planting pit with twice the volume of the root ball. To prevent the invasive shrub from conquering the whole garden later, we recommend placing a geotextile root barrier.

If the snowberry functions as a decorative hedge, the planting distance should be 40 inches (100 cm). Ideally, enrich the excavated soil with mature compost or bark humus.

Position the potted young plant in the center of the planting hole and cover it with the enriched substrate. Try to maintain the previous planting depth if possible.

Watering and mulching with foliage complete the uncomplicated planting.

Care Tips

It is no coincidence that snowberry is one of the favorites for amateur gardeners with limited time, as it only requires very little care. A proper care program only consists of the following points:

  • Water snowberries only during summer drought.
  • Fertilizing is not necessary.
  • Prune the shrub only if necessary in early spring.
  • You can propagate the shrub uncomplicatedly by means of cuttings, division, cuttings, or shoots.
  • Light winter protection in the year of planting is recommended.

Prevention of unwanted spread should be included in the care program. Since vigorous runners up to 24 inches (60 cm) in length thrive in an optimal location, a root barrier should stop this sprouting.

Alternatively, pluck out the numerous shoots promptly if they are not suitable for propagation.

Which Location is Suitable for Snowberries?

When looking for an ornamental shrub that won’t let you down, even in less favorable locations, the snowberry is on hand.

As long as the light conditions are in the sunny or semi-shady range, the snowberry will give its best.

As far as soil conditions are concerned, the decorative shrub is equally undemanding and will happily stretch out its roots in any normal garden soil.

Pruning Snowberry Properly

By nature, the snowberry unfolds a harmonious silhouette that does not necessarily require annual pruning. If, however, the ornamental shrub takes on undesirable dimensions, it also tolerates pruning easily.

Here’s how to do it right:

  • Prune the snowberry in early spring from February to April.
  • Cut back branches that are too long by up to two-thirds.
  • Make each pruning cut just above an outward-facing eye.
  • In addition, thoroughly thin out the woody plant by lopping all deadwood at the base.

The branches of snowberry covered with white berries can also decorate your living room as vase ornaments. In order to enjoy the autumnal decoration for a long time, cut the shoots shortly before the fruits ripen.

Watering Snowberry

Snowberry bears dense foliage and long-lasting bloom decoration throughout the summer. As a result, this ornamental shrub evaporates plenty of moisture.

Therefore, water the snowberry regularly during summer heat and drought to prevent it from drought stress. This may be necessary even after a light downpour if the raindrops do not penetrate the root disc.

Under normal weather conditions, though, additional watering is not necessary.

Fertilizing Snowberry Properly

Explicit application of fertilizer is not necessary, as the snowberry is self-sufficient through its richly branched root and stolon system.

The snowberry nevertheless appreciates a mulch layer of leaves, lawn clippings, or compost and rewards this effort with lavish flowering and abundant fruiting.

Overwintering Snowberries

The snowberry has robust winter hardiness that does not require any special precautions.

This hardiness builds up gradually, though. Therefore, in the year of planting, light winter protection makes sense.

Before the first frost, spread a thick layer of leaves and brushwood and wrap the young branches with jute.

Propagating Snowberry

The versatility of the snowberry continues seamlessly in terms of propagation. Choose from the following methods to propagate more specimens:

  • Cuttings in the fall.
  • Saplings during the summer
  • Cut off sprouts at the stolons in summer and plant them in the new location.
  • Division of the root ball in spring or fall.

Seed sowing may also be considered; however, it proves to be quite laborious. Seeds originating from the pulp of a berry are endowed by Mother Nature with inhibition to germination.

Breaking through this requires stratification and a lot of patience. You can then look forward to a first flowering with subsequent fruiting after 2-3 years at the earliest.

Snowberries in a Pot

As an enchanting feast for the eyes, the snowberry in a pot attracts all eyes. For the ornamental shrub to thrive vital and healthy, it depends on the following care:

  • Use structurally stable tub plant soil as substrate, filled over drainage of clay shards.
  • Water regularly as soon as the soil has dried out.
  • Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer every 30 days from May to September.
  • If necessary, shorten too long shoots in the spring.

If winter is just around the corner, cover the tub with bubble wrap and place it on a wooden block in front of the south wall of the house. In spring, repot the snowberry whenever the previous pot is fully rooted.

Is Snowberry Poisonous?

Although snowberry contains toxic saponins and alkaloids, this ornamental shrub poses no significant health risk. As practice has shown, the small fruits pass through the stomach and intestines without causing any damage.

In fact, the toxicity is at such a low level that an adult would have to eat at least 72 pounds (33 kg) of snowberries to be harmed. Still, explain to your children that the berries are there for popping, not snacking.

Beautiful Varieties

  • Chenault coralberry ‘Hancock’ (Symphoricarpos x chenaultii): Aparte dwarf cracker pea for the small garden and as a dense groundcover. However, it tends to grow rampant.
  • Snowberry ‘White Hedge’ (Symphoricarpos × doorenbosii): This compact variety creates gorgeous white hedges. It also acts as a bee and butterfly pasture.
  • Snowberry ‘Amethyst’ (Symphoricarpos × doorenbosii): The ideal complement to the white snowberry thanks to its pink berries in autumn.
  • Snowberry ‘Magic Berry’ (Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii): This pop pea scores with its delicate pink blossom and magenta fruit decoration.