Winter snowball, Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' care instructions

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Winter snowball - Viburnum bodnantense dawn

The winter snowball, also Bodnant snowball (Viburnum bodnantense) is a so-called winter bloomer. This fragrant ornamental shrub belongs to the family of the musk plants (Adoxaceae). The hybrid is the result of a cross between the winter snowball (Viburnum Farreri) and the large-flowered viburnum (Viburnum grandiflorum), around 1935 in Bodnant (North Wales). Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn', a clone, is the most popular variety with its full pink flower balls, which smell of vanilla. As a solitary shrub or planted in groups, it is particularly well in prominent places, such as front gardens, to advantage.


Dense, deep green foliage in the summer, dark red foliage in the fall, in winter the beginning of flowering, the Bodnant snowball offers a magical sight in every season. Not only in the spring.
That means for the selection of the location:
Everyone should see him! And of course smell!
Its beguiling vanilla-like fragrance not only delights the insects. So a place near the terrace or in front of a window would be ideal.
Even in the city, in a small green area or in the front yard, the pretty winter bloomer feels good. Of course, not only aesthetic criteria play a role in the selection of the location. The winter snowball likes it warm and sunny. He likes to stand in a south-facing position, a little sheltered from the wind near a wall or an evergreen hedge.
Also important for the right location are its expected dimensions:
  • Growth height 2.50 m to 3.0 m
  • Growth rate annually +/- 20 cm
  • Width 2 to 3 m
  • Flachwurzler, location distance 1.50 m to 2 m
Tip: Because of threatening waterlogging you should avoid sinks as a location.


As far as the ground is concerned, the Bodnant snowball 'Dawn' is not particularly demanding. It is very adaptable in terms of pH and tolerates a value from acidic to slightly alkaline (pH 5.5 -8). However, he does not tolerate permanently moist soil or even waterlogging. The soil may be a bit dry. The properties for the perfect soil are: nutrient-rich and permeable.

to water

When casting, it is important to avoid extremes. The winter snowball must not dry out and may not stand in the water. Additional watering should therefore not automatically and regularly, but depending on the weather and needs.
A good indicator for casting is the top layer of soil. If she feels dry, he is grateful for water. He is not at all picky about water quality. He tolerates the tap water from the hose. Do not forget to pour in winter and early spring. During this time he trains his flowers and must not dry out.


Good news again: The Bodnant Snowball does not need any additional fertilizer. What he needs, he pulls himself out of the garden soil. If you are particularly good with him, you can occasionally give him some green waste, bark mulch or compost. If the Bodnant snowball stands on very lean soil, you can give it an organic fertilizer in early spring.

To cut

The Bodnant snowball grows rather slowly, a regular cut is not necessary. From time to time you can get it into shape. A radical pruning is not necessary. If he is almost cut on the stick, one must expect to be able to admire no flowering in the following year.
For the cut, the late spring, after flowering, is best. Diseased, dead branches can be removed or branches that are disturbing to the overall appearance. Remove older branches as far down as possible. The new shoots, for the flowers in the following year, you should rather spare.


Basically, the winter snowball is hardy. Although late, harsh frosts in early spring can negatively affect the flowers. He needs no special protection for the winter, unless he has landed in a really cold region of Germany. If very heavy frost is expected, a layer of mulch, scattered over the surface roots, can provide some protection.


Almost everywhere in the nurseries, the Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' is sold as container goods. It can be planted from spring to late autumn. It is best to use it as soon as possible after the purchase.
The planting hole should be almost twice as large as the root ball is large. Be sure to pay attention to the neighborhood and keep 1.50 to 2 meters distance to the next plant. Because the winter snowball forms a lot of foothills in the width and directly below the surface as Flachwurzler.

Winter snowball - Viburnum bodnantense dawn

Then place the plant so high in the planting hole that the upper side of the root ball still has to be just covered with soil.When filling with soil, then carefully press down and ensure that no air holes remain between the roots. If you like, you can give the shrub something well-matured compost. Finally, pour thoroughly. The next watering should take place, even after the new planting, until the surface of the earth has completely dried.
In a row or hedge planting a distance of the individual plants of 60 cm is sufficient. If the gaps in the first years bother you, you can put so-called filler bushes in between. These can be, for example, shrubs such as apple berries, sclerophyllous, privet or finger shrub. If the Bodnant has enough density and size, you can remove it again.
Tip: Before purchasing a winter snowball, keep in mind that all plant parts (fruits, bark and leaves) are slightly toxic. So beware of small children and pets in the household! Ingestion causes nausea and vomiting. When working on the shrub you should wear gloves so that it does not cause skin irritation.


Horny, forget-me-not and crocuses look magical as neighbors or as underplanting. If the snowball is planted in a mixed hedge, dogwood, hydrangea or ornamental cherry are delightful companions to enjoy in every season in a varied play of colors.

bucket Culture

The Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' is not a pronounced potted plant. Cultivating it in planters definitely means more care than putting it in the field. The bucket may not be too large at the beginning, according to the motto, because he can then grow into it. It is better to let the tub slowly grow together with the winter snowball. That is, every two years it should be repotted into a slightly larger vessel, with a new substrate. Basically, broad types of buckets are preferable, as the winter snowball is a Flachwurzler.
A lot of care is needed to set up the planter with a properly functioning drainage layer and high-quality substrate as well as care:
  • coarse gravel on the tub bottom
  • Fleece as a release layer
  • pH value of substrate 5.5 to 6.0
  • high quality soil, compost, lava granules
  • Fertilize: annual full-nutrient 4 g per liter of substrate
  • pour regularly, must not dry out
  • even in winter from time to pour
  • Overwinter in a frost-free room
  • only overwinter outside with sufficient protection


The winter snowball is pollinated in the flower by insects. It then creates quite inconspicuous, dark blue, frosted drupes. But the propagation by seeds is not very promising. Besserklappt the proliferation of cuttings, Steckhölzer, Wurzelausläufer or lowered.


The cuttings cut and set best in May. Then the soil is nice and warm and the first roots can develop more easily. Cuttings are obtained from shoot tips. This is cut to about 15 to 20 cm in length and removes the leaves and flowers. Then they are put up to a third deep in the ground or in small seed pots. The environment should now be as warm and bright as possible. Once the first roots have formed, the young plantlet can be planted at its destination.

hardwood cuttings

Sticks, which are annual, mature, less woody and leafless shoots. Here it is advisable to cut several sticks in autumn and put them in a nutrient-rich, not too sunny corner of the garden, because not everyone will tackle. Cut the sticks to about 20 cm and remove all leaves. There should be one eye left above and below.
Tip: Some gardeners overwinter the cut sticks in a bag in the fridge and then put the sticks in the spring.

root suckers

Root shoots come out of the earth from time to time around the bush. These need only be separated in the spring and can be used right away in a partially shaded spot. The first time always keep well damp.


When the viburnum bodnantense is a bit older, the branches bend arcuately towards the ground. If a shoot is long enough, it can be fixed with a hook in the ground. Keep this place moist. Once roots have formed, separate the shoot from the mother plant and put in the desired location again.


Winter snowball - Viburnum bodnantense dawn

In addition to the variety Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn', there are two other varieties of Bodnant winter snowball, which are available here in nurseries. Known, though not as early flowering as the winter snowball bushes, are the Viburnum poulus varieties and the Duftschneeball:
Winter snowball 'Charles lamont' (Viburnum bodnantense 'Deben')
  • Flower color: at the beginning of flowering dark pink buds, then pink flowers
  • Flowering time: winter to spring (March / April)
Winter snowball Deben (Viburnum bodnantense 'Deben')
  • Flower color: white
  • Flowering time: winter to spring (March / April)
Korean Scented Snowball (Viburnum carlesii)
  • Flower color: pink buds, white flowers
  • Flowering period: spring to May / June
Common Snowball (Viburnum opulus)
  • Flower color: creamy white
  • Flowering time: late spring to June
Filled Snowball 'Roseum' (Viburnum opulus 'Roseum')
  • Flower color: white to pale pink
  • Flowering time: late spring to June

Diseases & pests

Good news also in the chapter Diseases and pests: If the Bodnant snowball is not too humid and not too dry, at most a disturbance of aphid attacks from time to time. Gray mold occurs now and then, in persistent wet weather on. Warmth and high humidity promote infestation with the white fly.


Aphids infest the young shoot tips. If you do not remove them soon enough, you will cripple whole branches. With a weekly shower of field horsetail or stinging nettle broth in the spring, you can strengthen the plant and prevent an infestation almost completely. Otherwise, the infected parts of the plant must be removed as quickly as possible. A natural predator of the Aphidoidea is the ladybug.

White fly

Especially in humid, warm summer periods a regular control of the underside of the leaves is the best measure against infestation with the white fly. You can see sticky webs and white dots (the flies) on the undersides of the leaves. Destroy the affected parts immediately. Web wasps are the natural predators of Trialeurodes vaporariorum. In cooler weather, the increase in white fly stops.


Fungal diseases are even rarer in winter snowball. If it does happen, the plant is usually weakened by an incorrect location or care. Here it helps to quickly and radically dispose of the infested plant parts. As a hobby gardener, gardener should not immediately resort to fungicides and rather take care to help the plants as toxic as possible, with loving care.
Neighbors, strollers, bees, butterflies and bumblebees will all be happy about every Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' in their neighborhood. As an owner, you do not have a hard time with this robust and dense ornamental shrub. He steadfastly defies winter and many pests and diseases. Unpretentious in the care, he often blooms already when there is still snow on its branches. The flowering time ranges, depending on the weather into April.

Video Board: How to prune Viburnums ( bonantense).

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