Overall, this plant family of the Muskwort family is of interest to home gardeners, as it contains four genera with approximately 220 species of plants that are mainly found in the northern hemisphere, from temperate to subtropical latitudes. There are various snowballs that can cope with our climate because they developed under similar climatic conditions. You can find out in this article whether the Bodnant snowball is one of them.


The Bodnant viburnum is one of those snowballs that can cope with our climate (just about, more on that in winter). The hybrid of the scented snowball “Viburnum farreri” and the large-flowered snowball “Viburnum grandiflorum” showed so little difference to the parent plants for its first breeder (Charles Lamont from the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh) in 1933 that he refrained from further propagation. In the (today) public “Bodnant Garden” in Wales, snowballs were also crossed. This cross was made here in 1934/1935 and given the botanical name Viburnum ×bodnantense.

The Bodnant snowball is also called winter snowball because of the actual breeding success that makes it special: it is very similar to its (also very attractive) parents, but has the flowering period of the “Viburnum farreri” from late autumn to early spring and the “Viburnum grandiflorum” is “mixed” from January to March with a flowering period between November and April – the dark pink-white flowers with a vanilla-like scent are a real enrichment for our gardens, which are otherwise not exactly overflowing with flowers during this time.

The rest of the season, however, the Bodnant snowball is also very attractive: towards the end of flowering, the lanceolate and slightly toothed leaves follow in fresh green, they adorn the winter snowballs throughout the summer until the autumn foliage turns red to purple.

The demands on location and soil

The Bodnant snowball grows as a shrub with a height of 2.5 m to 3 m, it reaches a growth width of between 1.5 m and a good 2 m. It initially remains rather narrow and only widens as an older shrub. When choosing a location, you can make sure that this is possible for him, but he can also be kept narrow by trimming.

The location may be sunny, the scented snowball tolerates heat well, but it also tolerates a pitch in the sun. The location should be slightly sheltered, at least in such a way that the cold east wind does not blow over the winter blossom.

It is not very demanding on the soil, snowballs are quite tolerant of soil pH and will grow well in poor soil with a little fertilizer. The soil should only be well drained, excess water must in any case be able to run off/seep away, the Bodnant snowball does not tolerate waterlogging.

A solitary Bodnant viburnum grows best in a location that is visible from the house so that you can enjoy the flowering. If it is to grow in a hedge, it should be planted at a distance of about half the growth width from the next shrub, only then can it develop sufficient root mass. The winter snowball will eventually fill this gap, but for now it leaves gaps. If such gaps bother you, you can fall back on an old trick used by garden architects: they add so-called filler trees to the young trees that are supposed to determine the basic structure of the garden in a few years. These are inexpensive, fast-growing shrubs that will quickly make the garden look lush, but can be removed without much distress, when the valuable cover shrubs have reached effective sizes. As filler shrubs z. B. Chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa), Spiraea (Spiraea x arguta), Fingerbush (Potentilla fruticosa), St. John’s Wort Hidcote (Hypericum Hidcote) and Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) are used.

Watering the Bodnant viburnum

The winter snowball is exceptionally easy to care for, but always needs slightly moist soil under it to care for its fine roots, so additional watering if in doubt:

  • The scented snowball should also be watered in dry (frost-free) winter and spring, because it develops flowers at this time
  • If it is in full sun, it must also be watered in summer
  • In the semi-shade, “natural irrigation” from above can be sufficient, but only if it rains regularly
  • The soil should never dry out, otherwise the youngest, finest roots in particular could die off
  • Applies to every plant and every garden soil: soak well once and then only water again after a few days


The winter snowball does not need very many nutrients, so it is satisfied:

  • A Bodnant viburnum in poor soil is given a complete organic fertilizer at the beginning of the season
  • No nitrogen-rich fertilizer, that would make the snowball lazy
  • Or a good cover of mature compost
  • A normal nutrient rich soil can be mulched around the snowballs
  • Then the scented snowball usually no longer needs any other nutrient supply

To cut

A Bodnant snowball is expected to grow by between 15 and 30 cm per year. You hardly have to cut your snowball at all – if it is a solitaire with enough space to the sides, it can simply grow freely. It just has to stay healthy, if you notice broken, diseased branches growing into the rest of the wood, these will of course be removed, which can happen at any time during the season.

However, you can shape the Bodnant snowball by cutting it. A solitaire should be pruned to an overall pyramidal shape, which best corresponds to natural development. You can give it a while (three or four years) for undisturbed development. You can also start pruning in the spring after planting. In both cases, proceed as follows from the basic pattern:

  • cut in late spring, after flowering and before leaves and shoots sprout
    • Cut away the oldest shoots, which are no longer blooming anyway
    • as close to the ground as possible
    • Apart from the shaping cut, shorten shoots that are too long and remove unsightly or diseased growth
  • leave new shoots on the bush, on which the next flower will develop
    • A Bodnant snowball should have a total of about eight strong main shoots
    • If these branch out a little in the upper area and hardly produce any flowers, they will be pruned vigorously next spring
    • central main shoot up to one meter, the surrounding shoots even shorter, until a pyramid or cone shape develops
    • If the main shoots branch well from below, you only need to gently shorten the scented snowball all around, with a view to a harmonious overall shape
  • larger cut is possible
    • Winter snowball can be kept in dwarf dimensions around 1 m by yearly pruning
  • Scented snowball can be cut back radically
  • It tolerates a show of strength at most every two to three years
  • if a large winter snowball is to become a dwarf, this should be done in stages
  • With radical cuts, you have to expect sparse flowering in the next season


The fact that the winter snowball has winter cold in its genes is less evident from its name than from its habit of getting rid of its leaves in winter. Almost all trees in regions with cold seasons do this, if there are no leaves to take care of, frozen ground is easier to survive.

The “parents” of the Bodnant snowball come from north-west China (Viburnum farreri) and a strip a little further south (Viburnum grandiflorum, from Pakistan through the southern Himalayas to southern Tibet).

They are familiar with the winter cold, but their homeland is a little or a good deal further south than Germany. The birthplace of Viburnum ×bodnantense, Bodnant in North Wales, also has cold winters, but only mild cold winters. The Bodnant snowball is credited with a USDA winter hardiness zone between 6 and 7, if 6 is correct, it gets through the winter well everywhere in Germany.

If it only withstands USDA climate zone 7, it gets increasingly tight from about Göttingen towards the south/southeast. If you live in the southern half of Germany, a Bodnant snowball is not automatically hardy for you, no matter how convincingly a seller claims it. Then the following should be explored:

  • USDA hardiness zone or hardiness zone of one’s residence
  • These “USDA Plant Hardiness Zones” were defined by the US Department of Agriculture = USDA = Department of Agriculture USA
  • They are the international standard according to which the winter hardiness of plants is indicated
  • In which USDA hardiness zone does the seller classify his Bodnant snowball?
  • Did he grow up in a greenhouse or outdoors?
  • Where was it drawn? In your area or in a large nursery in North Holland, USDA hardiness zone 8b?

If there is a fear that the winter snowball will freeze where you are, you should give it winter protection, especially when it is young. If you live in one of Germany’s dreaded cold spots, the winter snowball always needs winter protection. Or you can cultivate it in a bucket and bring it indoors in winter.

You should also find out about the different varieties of Bodnant viburnum. There are good and less good frost hardy varieties.

Bodnant snowball in a bucket

A bodnant viburnum can be planted in a bucket, but then it wants some conditions to be met:

  • In the tub, supply shortages are quickly noticeable, and regular care (watering, fertilizing, etc.) is required
  • The scented snowball must never be left too wet, as this almost always leads to fungal infections that can cause it to die
  • You can prevent this with a drainage layer on the bottom of the bucket, coarse gravel with some fleece on top
  • For pot culture, you should start with a small Bodnant snowball and gradually adjust the pot size
  • In this way, the plant can adapt its root ball size well and take care of itself in the bucket in the best possible way
  • Replace substrate every few years as structure deteriorates
  • Then you can immediately put the scented snowball in the next larger bucket
  • A mixture of garden soil with a quarter of gravel, clay balls, etc. is suitable as a substrate for loosening
  • fertilize with complete nutrient fertilizer according to the package instructions, you can also add horn shavings, compost, rock flour
  • Prune annually in tubs, this will make them bushier and more stable
  • Excess water must be able to drain off here, waterlogging is even more dangerous in the bucket
  • Pots also dry out faster because of the smaller mass of soil, so pay close attention to the moisture in hot weather

If you want to be pampered by delicate flowers with a lovely scent in the earliest early spring, you should plant a Bodnant viburnum. If you live in one of the colder regions of Germany, this is not so advisable, then the Bodnant viburnum needs super winter protection or a place in the conservatory. Only a native “common snowball” Viburnum opulus overwinters here in the garden without any problems .

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