What is that beautiful shrub with flat, snow white flowers?
At the beginning of May, right after the dogwoods bloomed, Hall County was blanketed with this shrub in many areas called a summer snowflake virburnum. The flowers are borne in a flat horizontal head that gives the plants the look of a wedding cake.
A 2004 Georgia Gold Medal plant, this show stopper blooms continually through the summer, then ends its growing season with bright red fruit and 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 it is a great transition plant. Summer snowflake is a deciduous plant, so it is best to plant near evergreens to mask its winter sparseness.
Plant snowflakes as a single specimen 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 8 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.
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.
On the other hand, an attractive asset is 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.
An ideal location for the summer snowflake is near an entryway, and its form makes it an ideal informal screen. My favorite location is in a more informal woodland setting; I love to look out in a natural landscape and see them blooming within the evergreens.
Whatever location you desire, this viburnum will not disappoint and it will offer months of color and interest.
Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.