Viburnum plicatum grandiflorum, also known as the ‘Japanese snowball tree,’ originates from Japan and China and is part of the ADOXACEAE family. Over the years these plants have become very popular because of the beautiful flowers that emerge in early – late spring. They have flat-topped or convex flower clusters (cymes) that emerge lime coloured and gradually turn to white as they open, and can reach 8 – 10 cm wide. Once the flowers have finished, a small oval-shaped fruit will form and change from red to black as it ripens. Usually once the fruit have turned black and left to dry out, you can then collect the seed and try germinating them, but it is much easier to take cuttings. They can be grown from either softwood or hardwood cuttings, and the best time to take cuttings is in early spring when the sap flow is at its best. Take a cutting (cut on an angle) approximately 5 – 7 cm long, remove all the foliage except for one – two leaves near the top, dip the cutting into root powder/ liquid and then place into a pot of seed raising mix. Keep the cutting moist until it shows signs of new growth.Viburnum. p. grandiflorum are also very popular in many gardens as a feature plant and have the potential to be used as a hedge, but this might not be the most ideal option if you wish to block out neighbours. That is because this particular variety is deciduous, so all the foliage will drop during the winter months and new foliage will re-emerge in the spring. But they are a great as a dividing hedge to separate different garden areas or styles. Viburnum. p. grandiflorum has the potential to grow to a height of 3 – 4 metres but can grow to a width of 3.5 – 4.5 metres, and they can be kept cut back to half their size if desired. Pruning can take away from their ‘natural growth’ habit but it can also be beneficial, and will encourage compact, healthy growth and result in more flowers the following year.One of the other attractions, besides the flowers, is the beautiful foliage that these Viburnum display. Their foliage is a brilliant green which is ovate shaped with acuminate tips and serrulate margins. They have very prominent veins on the upper side of the leaves and have a slight fury texture. They can be grown in full-day sun to part-shade and grow best in a moist position that has good draining soil, such as a loam – loam clay. If you have sandy soil, add a few bags of good quality compost to improve the soil texture and health. They do prefer a slightly more acid soil pH but can easily adapt to different soil pH. To encourage the best growth make sure to fertilise in their growing seasons, spring and summer. Use a soluble fertiliser such as Thrive by Yates or All-purpose fertiliser by Debco, which are both mixed into a 9 Litre watering can, then water the plant. This will help to encourage strong healthy growth and encourage more flowers during their flowering time. Viburnum. p. grandiflorum are a brilliant plant and are a fantastic addition to any plant collection! I have just planted mine in the garden and I plan on trying to grow a few cuttings.
By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs