The Plant That’s Commonly Mistaken For A Hydrangea But Easier To Take Care Of

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The Plant That's Commonly Mistaken For A Hydrangea But Easier To Take Care Of

The Plant That’s Commonly Mistaken For A Hydrangea But Easier To Take Care Of

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Hydrangea plants are one of the most common garden selections due to their beauty and low maintenance. However, there is another lesser-known plant that is just as stunning and even easier to care for that you may have not heard of: the snowball viburnum plant. From a visual standpoint, you likely won’t be able to tell which is which because they look so similar. Yet, they are very different plants. The viburnum bush is also commonly known as cranberry bush, hobblebush, arrowwood, nannyberry, or snowball bush. They come in many varieties and can grow to be between 2 and 20 feet tall.

Like the hydrangea white bloom flowers, snowball viburnum flowers are shaped like round snowballs and are very fragrant, making them attractive to bees and butterflies. But, unlike hydrangeas, viburnum plants produce fruit. The leaves of the viburnum change with the seasons and transform from green to red, burgundy, and purple.

Snowball viburnum vs hydrangea white bloom flower

Red berries on viburnum bush

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One of the key differences between snowball viburnum and white hydrangea is that viburnum shrubs produce a stunning variety of colored berries. The fruit varies in color, including yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, and black, though the most common color is red. The berries grow even during the winter. For this reason, birds and other small animals may eat them when food is scarce during colder months. 

Like with hydrangeas, when it comes to pruning, you will want to remove any dead or broken branches. This helps the plant thrive by allowing more room for young flowers and branches to grow and blossom, and also by providing space for sufficient airflow. For simple aesthetics, you may want to prune the bushes to a shape that fits where they are placed on your property. You can also grow them in pots. Again, like hydrangeas, viburnum are often used as borders for gardens and landscapes, and as hedges around the home, mostly because they are both visually appealing and easy to grow.

Caring for snowball viburnum

Viburnum bush

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Snowball viburnum are sturdy evergreen plants that will grow well in the most basic conditions. They prefer soil that is moist and, of course, the more fertile the better. However, you don’t necessarily need to routinely use fertilizer. You can add fertilizer to the soil when you plant them, ideally in the spring or fall, but no regular plant food is necessary beyond that.

You should make sure that the soil they are planted in is well drained. Though viburnum are sturdy and adaptable, like most plants, they don’t do well in soil that is over-saturated. On the flip side, as long as they have been planted well and are fully rooted, they are pretty resilient to bouts of drought. Typically, viburnum shrubs should be watered once a week, unless there has been a lot of recent rainfall. They also require ample sun and can be in sunlight all day, though in extremely hot climates, some afternoon shade may be preferable.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.