The arching stems of snowberries bear abundant fruit clusters for birds to feast on each fall.
Berries form on the tips of dense branches of blue-green foliage. Recently introduced cultivars like ‘Scarlet Pearl' (pictured) are especially noteworthy because of their larger, more colorful berries. With dense branching and a root system that spreads through underground runners, snowberries are vigorous enough to hold soil on slopes and banks of streams or serve as a tall ground cover.
It also works well as hedging or a specimen in the landscape, particularly in shady spots where other shrubs have trouble growing. A North American native, it's found in woodlands and prairies and tolerates poor soil, pollution, and windy sites.
Common name: Snowberry
Botanical name: Symphoricarpos spp.
Plant type: Deciduous shrub
Height: 6 feet
Zones: 3 to 7 and Coastal Zone 10
• Sun: Sun to part shade
• Soil: Does best in well-drained soil, but tolerates poor soil.
• Moisture: Moderate
• Mulch: None or a thin layer (1 inch) of organic mulch such as wood chips, bark chips, or shredded leaves.
• Pruning: Flowers on new wood, so prune lightly in early spring.
• Fertilizer: None required
• ‘Scarlet Pearl' from Monrovia (photo at right) has dark pink fruit and grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 3 to 7.
• Charming Fantasy is a new cultivar with light pink fruit in the fall. Grows 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. Zones 3 to 7.
• Perfect for a naturalized landscape designed to attract wildlife. Birds will eat the berries and find shelter in the dense branching.
• Plant in shady spots or poor soils where other shrubs don't thrive.
• Because snowberry suckers, you need to thin it occasionally. • Divide and transplant in the fall.
Pests and diseases
Anthracnose, powdery mildew, and leaf spots may occur.
• Take greenwood cuttings in the summer.
• Take hardwood cuttings in late fall.
All in the family
• The common coralberry (Symphoricarpos albus) has ½-inch, white fruit from September through November. Tolerant of drought and shade.
• Cultivars such as ‘Constance Spry' have attractive fruit. Grows 3 to 6 feet tall. Zones 3 to 7.
• Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii ‘Mother of Pearl' has arching branches with prolific, white fruit. Grows 5 feet tall. Zones 4 to 7.
• The coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) is a dense bushy shrub with bell-shaped flowers and purple-red fruit. Grows 6 feet tall. Zones 2 to 7.
• Weigela, viburnum, sambucus (elderberry), and lonicera (honeysuckle) are all landscape shrubs related to the snowberry.