With its white berries that look like little snowballs, the snowberry is one of the most popular shrubs in domestic gardens. The intense green colored leaves of the plant, which reaches a total height of three meters, form a decorative contrast to the delicate spherical fruits. The plant is particularly diverse in its numerous areas of application and can be combined with many plants. Beginners in particular like to choose the frugal ornamental shrub, which is quite robust, can be cultivated in almost any area of ​​the garden and requires little maintenance. But beware: the berries are poisonous!

location and soil

The shrub, which is also known as the cracker pea shrub, is one of the particularly undemanding plants. The plant thrives in a variety of areas in the garden and tolerates both full sun and partial shade. However, areas in full shade are also easily tolerated by the plant. The snowberry is also hard to smoke and tolerates inner-city climates very well. The ornamental shrub is particularly suitable for planting in a natural garden or in a forest garden. Here the plant forms a decorative contrast to other wild plants.

The firecracker can be used at the selected location both as a solitary plant and as a group plant, for example in mixed woody plantings or in dense, free-growing hedges. In addition, the snowball bush is preferably planted in areas of the garden where underplanting is necessary, for example under tall trees. Finally, areas in the garden with the hedge that experience has shown are difficult to green can be planted particularly well.

Note: If the cracker pea bush is to be planted within a border, the front border area has proven to be the ideal location.

Not only the location of the cracker pea bush is particularly undemanding. There are also no additional requirements with regard to the floor. The plant tolerates numerous different types of substrate:

  • firm to airy soil conditions
  • dry or moist substrate
  • extremely alkaline or slightly acidic soil pH

However, if the snowberry is planted on very dry soil, there is a risk of increased foothills. These should then be removed at regular intervals to prevent uncontrolled proliferation.

watering and fertilizing

During the summer months, the firecracker bush is supplied with sufficient moisture, mainly by regular rain. But even prolonged periods of drought cannot harm the shrub. Sufficient watering should only be ensured when planting the shrub until the plant has developed a sufficient network of roots and has grown optimally. However, it is essential to avoid waterlogging during the additional irrigation, as this can lead to root rot.

Snowberries should be fertilized twice a year. The best time for the first fertilization is between the end of April and the beginning of May. The second fertilization then takes place in the second week of July. A complete fertilizer is particularly suitable, which should develop a long-term effect if possible. It is particularly important to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of trace elements, which are ideally contained in the fertilizer. Additional precautions must be taken, especially in the first year after planting the firecracker bush. Only organic fertilizer should be used during this period, otherwise root burns can easily occur.

Basically, the fertilizer should be sprinkled pure in the area of ​​the roots.

The snowberry is one of the hardy plants and remains outdoors during the cold season without additional protection. In winter, the plant does not need to be watered; there is no fertilization either.

care and cutting

The snowberry is quite robust overall and requires little care. If the plant is on a particularly dry soil, it should be checked regularly for offshoots, which are then removed. In order to avoid the proliferation of runners, it has also proven useful to completely avoid digging in the root area of ​​the plant. This promotes the formation of foothills and the associated urge to spread. In order to also ensure improved regulation of soil moisture, a layer of mulch can be laid out at the beginning of budding. In this way, both the moisture within the substrate and the distribution of nutrients are optimally regulated.

Regular pruning, which should be done twice a year, is also part of caring for the firecracker bush. Basically, different types of cuts are available:

  • taper cut
  • simple grooming cut
  • radical cutback

In spring – in the months of April to June – you can rejuvenate the plant with the help of a strong pruning. For this purpose, the branches are severely cut off and the shoots are shortened to near the ground. Under no circumstances should this measure be taken too timidly, since the plant develops subsequent branches very quickly. Longer branches are shortened so that only a few eyes can be seen. Such a radical pruning keeps the snowberry small. This makes the plant, which can otherwise reach a total height of up to three meters, particularly suitable for underplanting trees and as a solitary shrub.

The second time to take pruning measures is November. If the snowberry is shortened again shortly before the onset of winter, the plant will willingly push through again. At the same time, a targeted pruning can prevent excessive lignification and bare areas in the lower part of the plant.

The care of the firecracker bush also includes the regular control of foothills. If a particularly dry location is preferred for cultivating the plant, these can occur more frequently and ultimately lead to the plant growing rampant. In case of doubt, it may then be necessary to move the plant to another location if the foothills get out of hand.

planting and propagating

Before the snap pea bush can be planted in the chosen area in the garden, the root ball should be placed in a water bath for ten minutes. The bale is only saturated with sufficient moisture when no more air bubbles rise. Two to three plants should be estimated per meter of open space. The prepared planting hole should be about twice the size of the root ball, both in depth and width.

The excavated soil should be carefully loosened. The excavated substrate is then mixed with garden peat or good garden compost before the plant is placed in the prepared plant hole and the soil is added again. The root edge area is carefully approached after planting. It has also proven useful to form a watering wall of substrate at the edge of the plant hole to make watering easier in the weeks that follow. After inserting the plant into the soil, the soil around the plant should be carefully muddy. Overall, the shrub is watered daily at first until the plant has grown well.

The propagation of the cracker pea bush can be done by seeds in pure species. Otherwise, duplication is also possible using sticks. These are cut from annual, woody shoots of the plant. The best time for this measure is a frost-free day in late autumn. Shoots that have a good stocking of eyes are best suited. The sticks, which are about 20 cm long, are bundled and overwintered in a sheltered place. The logs are stored upright in a container filled with sand. Alternatively, the logs can also be stored outdoors, for example in a well-protected burial ground. The following spring, the sticks should then be used in large flower pots. Regular moistening must be ensured. If the budding of leaves can be seen, one can assume that the rooting was successful. Then the young plants can be transplanted.

fight pests

Since the cracker pea bush is very robust, it is rarely infested with pests. Sometimes the plant is attacked by aphids . Then typical damage symptoms appear:

  • heavily curled, sometimes blistered, bloated leaves
  • sticky plant parts
  • Aphid infestation on the underside of the leaf (in crowded populations)
  • caring, deformed shoots

There are a number of different options available to remedy the situation. Attracting plants such as nasturtium are suitable both for targeted prevention and in the case of a mild acute infestation, to keep the pests away from the plant. The classic method, especially in the case of a stronger infestation, is the targeted spraying of the affected parts of the plant with a powerful jet of water. Alternatively, spraying with soap solutions and tansy tea or nettle extracts can help.

toxicity and naming

The impressive shrub owes its name to the snowball-like appearance of the fruit, which hangs from the branches like small white balls. The name “cracker pea bush”, on the other hand, is due to the sound that the fruit makes when it hits hard ground. For this reason, this shrub is a popular plant, especially for children who like to play with the plant. But caution is advised here in particular: If you crush the berries, they release different active ingredients that can cause irritation and redness on the skin. In addition, the fruits are poisonous and should not be swallowed. The classic symptoms of poisoning are nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Also certain animals, for example horses, hares and rabbits,

Robust, decorative and easy to care for – the firecracker is particularly popular with beginners who cultivate a natural garden and want an uncomplicated plant, for example for planting tall trees underneath. Because the plant is also very frugal in terms of maintenance, it can be cultivated in any garden. If you also always keep the toxicity of the shrub in mind, which should be kept away from children and animals, hobby gardeners will enjoy the decorative plant for a long time, which enriches the local green area with the snowball-like fruits.

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