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Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

The common snowberry shrubs is not the most beautiful or best-behaved shrubs in the garden, but it does have features that keep them interesting throughout most of the year.

The shrub blooms in spring, with small but dense clusters of bell-shaped, white flowers at the ends of the branches. In fall, the flowers are replaced by clusters of white berries. The berries are the showiest feature of the shrub and last well into winter.

Don't Eat the Berries

Even though wildlife enjoys eating the fruit of the snowberry bush, it is poisonous to humans and should never be eaten.

Where to Plant

Plant snowberries in full sun or partial shade. The shrubs are found naturally along stream banks and in swampy thickets, but they thrive in dry areas as well. They tolerate a wide range of soil types, and while they prefer clay, they also grow well in sandy and rocky soils. They also do well in exposed areas where they tolerate strong winds. Snowberries are rated for USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 7.

Snowberries are an asset in wildlife gardens where they provide food and shelter for birds and small mammals. Bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds are attracted to the shrub. Vigorous roots make the plants suitable for soil stabilization on hillsides and stream banks.

Growing Snowberries

Snowberries grow about 3 feet (1 m.) tall and 6 feet (2 m.) wide, but plant them a little further apart to allow for air circulation to help cut down on the incidence of disease. Anthracnose, powdery mildew, rusts, and rots are just a few of the problems that infest snowberries.

Keep the soil moist until the plant is established. Afterward, it tolerates dry spells. Common snowberry doesn’t need annual fertilization but will appreciate an application of balanced fertilizer every other year or so. Prune regularly to remove diseased and damaged parts of the shrub.


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