Although a few weeks past her prime, the Chinese Snowball Viburnum that graces us with her presence as we drive down our driveway is one of our all-time favorite flowering shrubs. And apparently we’re not alone. We’ve had a number of friends ask … What’s that huge white hydrangea in your front yard?
Then just this week…not surprisingly, the husbands of said friends who have asked us about our “hydrangea” are now inquiring…in hopes of finding that perfect Mother’s Day gift.
And I agree…I think they’ve found it. Well…almost.
Almost because…it’s not a hydrangea. I understand why someone could be confused though…it has huge white bulbous flowers like an Annabelle hydrangea. But it’s actually a Viburnum…and not just a Viburnum…but a Snowball Viburnum…and not just a Snowball Viburnum…but a Chinese Snowball Viburnum (CSV).
I say all that because there are a ton of different varieties of Viburnum and a number of different Snowball Viburnum….all different. So if a CSV is what you want…make sure when shopping for one, that you ask for it by its full name. And if you want to really impress your neighborhood nurseryman…woman…err, person…ask for a Viburnum macrocephalum ‘Sterile’.
But before you pull the trigger and whip out your credit card, you need to know a few things about the Chinese Snowball Viburnum (or often commonly referred to as a Chinese Snowball Bush) to make sure that you have all that she wants:
- She likes the sun: Although a CSV will grow in partial shade, she will give you more love in the way of more flowers when planted in full sun…and if you live in a hotter area, she’ll prefer morning sun to the harsh afternoon sun. Picky…picky.
- She loves the South: Alright that’s a bit geo-centric of me. Although I’d like to say that the CSV only grows well in the South…she’s actually more geographically accommodating than that, growing in zones 6-9…maybe 10.
- She’ll grow to be a big girl: You might be tempted to treat her like you would another shrub, giving her about 5 or so feet of growing room…but you’ll be very wrong. I was. If not hemmed in every Spring with pruning, the CSV can grow 20’ tall and 15’ wide. So make sure you give her plenty of space to show her stuff.
- She likes to show off: What caught the eye of our friends were the CSV’s prolific flowers. And when I say prolific…I mean pro.lif.ic! Like hundreds of 6”-8” blooms covering every bit of her beautiful self. And because they’re almost perfectly round they look kinda like an albino Dr. Seuss Truffula Tree on steroids. Regardless, one other benefit of having a CSV in your yard is that they are a great cut flower to bring inside to make a really dramatic flower arrangement…all by their own selves.
So if you’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift … and the mother you’re buying for loves to garden or have flowers brought inside, the Chinese Snowball Viburnum could be the perfect gift for you … err, her!
One word of caution though…since CSVs have done all their blooming for the year, if the recipient of your Mother’s Day love doesn’t know what one is…she may be a bit disappointed when you show up with what looks like a pettily little plant. And we don’t want that…NO! So to ward off those glares…um, looks of disappointment, have this post handy to show your betrothed what she has to look forward to next Spring.
Take care all…and Happy Mother’s Day to my motherly, ground-redeeming friends,