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Cannon: A great shrub for spring and summer

POSTED: April 5, 2012 11:42 p.m.

Are you wondering what that beautiful shrub is with flat, snow-white flowers? Usually around mid-April into May and right after the dogwoods bloom, Hall County becomes blanketed with this shrub in many areas. It is called the Summer Snowflake Virburnum.

The flowers are borne in a flat horizontal head, which give the shrub’s flowers a wedding-cake kind of look. A 2004 Georgia Gold Medal plant, this showstopper blooms continually through the summer. Then this ever changing shrub ends its growing season with bright red fruit, colored with rich, wine-red fall leaves.

As the spring blossoms fade, the Summer Snowflake gears up for an encore performance. It flowers repeatedly through the summer and is a great transition plant. Summer Snowflake blooms when most of the other shrubs are done. Summer Snowflake is a deciduous plant, so it is best to plant near evergreens to mask its winter sparseness.

Plant a Little Gem Magnolia or Japanese Cryptomeria (two other Georgia Gold Medal winners) as companion plants. Plant snowflakes alone as an eye-stopping single specimen plant, or in groups of three to five plants for added interest in the garden.

Set plants about 6 to 8 feet apart to give them adequate growing room and fertilize once they are established. Viburnums can grow up to 8 feet and spread 3 to 4 feet in width at maturity.

The Summer Snowflake has one flaw. It is not drought tolerant. Watering is essential during times of limited rainfall. Drip irrigation is a good way to provide adequate moisture. A full sun environment is ideal if watered properly, but they will thrive in a semi-shade location, too. Moist, well drained soils are best for success with viburnums.

An attractive plus is that this type of viburnum does not seem to be bothered by insect or disease problems.

Prune the plants (May-July) as needed after spring growth. Thin excess branches from within the canopy. Spring blossoms form on the previous season’s growth and repeat blooms form on new growth. That is why gardeners favor viburnums because of their multiple seasons of interesting showy flowers, bright red berries and a rusty fall color.

The Summer Snowflake variety only sets a small amount of berries. That way the shrub continues to flower during the growing season.

An ideal location for the Summer Snowflake is near an entryway or beside a garden gate. In addition, the tall narrow form of the shrub makes it an ideal informal screen for use in the landscape. My favorite location is set in a more informal woodland setting. I love to look out in a natural landscape and see them blooming against other evergreens.

Whatever location you desire, this viburnum will not disappoint and it will offer months of color and interest to your garden.

Make a point to look around our area and identify all of these lovely, spectacular white shrubs.

There will be a great selection of viburnum and hydrangeas at the Hall County Master Gardener Spring Plant Expo.

 Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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