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 colourful 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 and good for landscaping a garden
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.
Care – landscape
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.
Fertiliser: None required
‘Scarlet Pearl’ has dark pink fruit and grows 3 to 5 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 naturalised 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 (Elder), and Lonicera (honeysuckle) are all landscape shrubs related to the snowberry.