Snowberry – Symphoricarpos

The symphoricarpos, or snowberry, is a useful hedging or screening plant that will grow practically anywhere, producing in the autumn large white berries like marbles, lasting through most of the winter. S. albus is an evergreen growing up to 2.1 m (7 ft) or taller under good soil conditions. Of the cultivars, ‘Laevigatus’ has even bigger berries and ‘White Hedge’ (syn. ‘White Hedger’) is a compact, erect grower which is considered best for hedges.

General care: Snowberry will grow anywhere – sun or shade, or under trees – and in any soil, no matter how poor. Plant any time in the winter, 45 cm (18 inches) apart for hedging, and 75 cm (30 inches) or more apart for screening, depending on how thick a screen you want. The young plants should then be cut down to within 25 cm (10 inches) or so of the soil, and the growing tip pinched out from time to time to encourage branching. No routine pruning is needed, and hedges and screens can be trimmed as and when required.

Snowberry - Symphoricarpos

Propagation: Sow seed harvested from the berries in the early spring, although they may not produce plants true to type if taken from hybrids. In that case, take cuttings in the autumn and strike in a 50-50 sand and peat mixture.

Pests and diseases: Usually trouble-free, although certain fungi may cause leaf-spotting. If this proves troublesome, spray with a general fungicide.

The snowberry is the most popular species of this genus, a twiggy bush 4 or 5 ft. high with small pink flowers followed by white, marble-like berries. There is considerable confusion regarding its name and it may appear in catalogues as Symphoricarpos albus, laevigatus, racemosus or rivularis, but the last appears to be correct. It will grow in all soils, in sun or shade, can be used as a hedge or as game cover and its berries are very useful for winter decorations. There are several other useful kinds, equally easy to grow, including the coral berry, S. orbiculatus, similar in appearance but with rose-pink berries, and numerous hybrids such as Magic Berry, purple; Mother of Pearl, pink, and White Hedge, white. All kinds can be pruned in spring as necessary to keep them in shape.

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