Japanese Snowball: A Complete Care And Propagation Guide

Japanese snowball is a beautiful and mesmerizing deciduous shrub that never fails to surprise. Though the structure is quite complicated, it requires no such special maintenance. Check out its planting care and add beauty to your place.

A Japanese Snowball (Viburnum Plicatum) is sure to win anyone’s heart with its exceptional beauty, attractively arching branching habit, and attractive features and characteristics. It is a shrub that produces greenish-white flowers in clusters that are meant to attract butterflies. These are pretty easy to maintain. Japanese Snowballs seem as if they require immense care and maintenance, but it’s not like that.

Want to know everything about the Japanese Snowball bush? Here is the guide for YOU; get all your answers related to the enchanting Japanese Snowball. Also, learn how to grow and take care of this beauty.

History and Habitat

Plicatum was first observed in the garden plants of Japan. As the flowerhead resembles a snowball thus because of its beautiful garden merit, the name was given Japanese snowball. The botanical name of the Japanese Snowball is Viburnum Plicatum that is popularly known as an ornamental plant. When we say Plicatum, it intends to fold or to be pleated, and with these leaves of Japanese Snowball, the plant lovers and experts determine the structure of leaves. 

The Japanese Snowball is also popular as it belongs to the family of Adoxaceae which is a popular flowering plant species. This flowering plant belonging to the Adoxaceace family is native to China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. You would be amazed to know that this garden plant is more comprehensive than tall and requires partial shade. The branching pattern seems like a ladder in winters while its flower changes color in late spring.

Botanical NameViburnum Plicatum
Common NameJapanese Snowball
Plant TypeDeciduous Shrub
OriginJapan, China
Hardiness Zones5 to 8
Bloom PeriodApril to May
Growth RateMedium
Flower ColorGreenish white
Mature Size8-15 feets
Sunlight ExposureFull sun to partial shade in the garden
WateringThree to five times watering in a week 
Soil RequirementsWell-drained soil, struggles in compacted soil
Optimal Soil pHNeutral to acidic

How to Take Care of Japanese snowball (Viburnum plicatum)

If you are thinking of planting Japanese snowball viburnum, you would be glad to hear that Japanese Snowballs, having serrated pointy leaves, are very easy to grow and handle. Just settle down the seedling process, follow the instructions carefully and you will surely take good care of your Japanese Snowball.

Soil Needs 

The best thing about Japanese Snowball bush is that they can tolerate many different soil types having good drainage. But they grow best when the soil is moist and a bit acidic. They have difficulty growing when the soil is compact.

Lighting Requirements

Japanese snowball viburnum is an easy-growing large shrub plant that needs full sun to partial shade. However, this large shrub plant is known to arise strongly when it is kept outdoor under the full sun for at least six to eight hours. 


Young Japanese Snowballs viburnum shrub need three to five times watering in a week during early summer. At the same time, the established snowball requires less frequent watering.

Temperature/ Humidity

Japanese Snowball is a hardy plant that tolerates the temperature below -25 degrees celsius. You would be amused to know that they can even handle drought and waterlogging.

Fertilizer requirement and routine

You would be surprised to know that Japanese Snowball does not require enough feeding. However, too much fertilizer can rot the snowballs. If desired, you can use balanced 10-10-10NPK fertilizers in early spring and mid-spring to promote growth.

When And How To Prune Japanese Snowball

Japanese snowball bush is a deciduous shrub, sheds its leaves in a fall and blooms from a block of old wood. But if you want a large shrub to bloom, follow the pruning trick and witness a bunch of large shrubs growing in no time.

To encourage growth, it is advisable to prune it back in the mid-spring after it has begun blooming in the early spring. You can even thin out the base by cutting one-third of it in case of too-long branches. Then, just shape the mature branches, and your trimmed snowball is ready.

Viburnum plicatum tree in my backyard

How to Grow and Propagate Viburnum

Easy Steps How to Grow Japanese Snowball

  1. Firstly, check if the planting site is free from weeds and grass.
  2. Plan to dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball and for the safer side, let this be three times deeper than the overall diameter of the root ball. Ensure that the gap is more broad and shallow.
  3. Perform this step with extra care, remove the snowball bush placed in a garden or the container and gently loosen the roots.
  4. Place the brush in the center of the hole.
  5. Fill the hole with the original soil.
  6. Water a plant with enough water and tap the soil for settling in the garden.
  7. You can now spread the wood chips over the entire planting area to retain the moisture.

You can also plant Viburnum opulus (snowballs) in a pot by alternative yet another easy method:

  1. Instead of a garden, you can plant it in a large tray or large pot. Take a broad tray.
  2. Cover the bottom with soil and plant the sampling.
  3. Add more soil and settle it.
  4. Sprinkle water just like you do in your garden.

Your garden’s beauty is ready to grow in a large pot or large tray.

Want to spread Japanese Snowball bush in a pot or garden? Then read more How to propagate Japanese Snowball.

Steps to Propagate Japanese Snowball Viburnum

  1. Choose a healthy bush present in your or your friend’s garden and cut a 4-6 inch stem from it.
  2. The stem should be taken from any suitable dark green foliage and should bend. Then, you can quickly figure out if the branch is young. For example: if the stem does not break when you tilt the stem in two parts, you get the hint that the stem is young. And the branch is old if it breaks while bending, making it a bad cultivar.
  3. Choose a young and healthy stem having at least four leaves.
  4. Now the tricky part comes, strip the leaves from another half of the stem.
  5. Place the stem so that the above two leaves do not touch the soil or the mixture.
  6. Cut a one-liter soda bottle and palace it on the pot. This will act as a greenhouse. 
  7. Remember, leaves should not touch the plastic.
  8. Keep the pot in the bright sunlight.
  9. And give it enough water to keep the soil damp always.
  10. Watch it for one or two months. If you notice the growth, congratulations, your plantation is thriving.

Potting and Repotting of Viburnum Opulus 

You can easily report the Japanese Snowfall, but one needs to do the following things:

  1. Take a pot that you can handle easily.
  2. Ensure that you take a broad pot as Japanese Snowballs grow wider than tall.
  3. Keep the soil moist and see if the water drainage is enough.
  4. Replace topsoil with mature compost.
  5. Be gentle while repotting.
  6. Also, remove the dead branches and leaves while pruning.

Common Pests And Diseases

As Japanese snowballs grow in clusters including the showy balls shaped flower clusters, it tends to suffer from scale insects which need to be treated to keep plants healthy.

Let us know how to keep them away:

  • You can identify the scales by observing the leaves, and the initial symptoms are yellow dots on leaves.
  • If the scale is not too strong, you can easily scrape it off using cardboard.
  • If you think the infection seems too much, prune away the affected branches and burn them.

Prevention And Control

  • Wherever you see the affected branches or leaves that are not looking up to the mark, spray any of the available insecticidal soap or try applying horticultural oil.  
  • Lady beetles and wasps are also effective in eating the insects on the leaves.

Scales usually attack when the plant is unhealthy. So, try to cut the unhealthy branches, water them enough. Then, place them in healthy and well-damped soil. And if you notice any changes, take the desired action.

Why is My Snowball Tree Dying?

Your snowball tree or the Chinese snowball bush tree may be dying due to the following major diseases:


Wilts is a severe fungal disease caused by the soil-borne Verticillium albo-atrium and Verticillium Dahliae fungi. It enters through the root system and affects all over, ending up clogging the vascular tissue. It drastically reduces the water flow. It then starts the leaf to turn yellow and curling of leaves.


You can prune the affected area. Also, sterilize the tools between each cut with 70 percent of alcohol.

Frequently Asked Questions

How fast does a Japanese snowball tree grow?

Japanese Snoball plants are not known too much for the height but for the width. Even the tallest variety stretches only two feet each year. In contrast, the shorter dwarfs grow slower. Japanese Snowballs grow 12 feet tall and 15 feet broad.

Where to plant Japanese snowballs?

Plant the Japanese Snowballs where you can get six to eight hours of full sunlight. Also, take care the soil is moist and moderately alkaline that drains moisture. This care will lead to enough blossoming of flower clusters.

What does a Japanese snowball tree look like?

Japanese Snowball is a deciduous shrub that is covered with masses of pure white, snowball-like flowers. Its leaf turns purple before the autumn season. They come in clusters that are enough to attract anyone.

Is Japanese snowballs evergreen?

Japanese Snowballs are semi-evergreen that create a beautiful landscape during the mid-spring. These are super elegant and bloom in white flowers and semi-green foliage, leaving everyone in awe. The best thing about Japanese Snowball is that they change color in every season right from the late spring, and that’s why they never fail to surprise you.

Is Japanese snowball deer resistant?

Japanese Snowballs produce a powerful fragrance that is enough to catch anyone’s attention, but as deer avoid such strong smells, they stay away from it. So, we can say that Japanese Snowballs is a fragrant snowball bush act to deter deer.

1. UAEX Resources Library. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

2. Viburnum. Oregon State University