The maintenance is easy and cut rather undesirable; This wood, also known as the lily of the valley tree, is worthwhile for all gardeners who still have a spot free in the garden.

Wanted poster snowdrop tree

The best-known snowdrop tree with the botanical name Halesia carolina, which is available in every well-stocked tree nursery, has the following growth characteristics and peculiarities:

  • Shrub from North America that blooms in spring
  • Matt dark green leaves that are shed in winter
  • Showy pendulous bell-shaped flowers appear from April to May
  • The flowering is known to be particularly abundant and appears on relatively young plants
  • The lily of the valley scent of the flower should be barely noticeable at first, but in good locations it should become more intense over the years
  • Flower color cream-white to silver-white (the wood is also called the silver bell)
  • When the fruit is ripe, light green to light brown fruit capsules are adorned and remain on the wood during winter
  • Yellow-green to (in favorable weather) golden-yellow autumn leaves
  • Growth habit: broad, upright large shrub, with older plants picturesque overhanging branches
  • The snowdrop tree can be grown as a high trunk, but is rarely offered in this form
  • 3 to 4 m in height
  • Spread 3 to 4 m
  • Growth 25 to 30 cm per year, less with age
  • Source of nectar for bees, but not many other native insects
  • Almost free from disease and insect pests
  • The lifespan of the snowdrop bush is said to be around 50 to 75 years

Location and planting

The pretty snowdrop tree should best get a single position in the garden, because it can only develop its full potential as a solitary. The enchanting white bell flowers appear partly in front of and partly with the foliage when the tree is doing well, close together and only 1.5 cm long. When they ripen, the whole tree hangs full of small, light greenish-brown lanterns.

From a distance, the snowdrop tree in blossom looks like an apple tree that is astonishingly in full bloom; only up close do the “apple blossoms” turn out to be little bells, a really nice surprise effect. The snowdrop tree therefore works best when it can be admired as a whole in all its glory – which goes well with its ability to anchor its roots quite deep in the ground; it has to be planted at a certain distance from the house and its supply lines anyway. Alternatively, the snowdrop tree can be planted in a loose group of shrubs, e.g. B. in combination with rhododendrons or azaleas.

The demands on location and soil:

  • Location: sunny and sheltered
  • Partial shade is possible, but as light as possible because the bloom subsides in the shade
  • Soil: humic, loose and well drained
  • Soil moisture: Rather well moistened, on the natural site the snowdrop tree grows in moist forests on the edge of mountain rivers
  • Soil pH value: likes to be acidic, from pH 5.6 to 6.0 (therefore often read: same requirements as rhododendrons)
  • However, all soil pH values ​​up to pH 7.5 (neutral range) should be tolerated just as well
  • Heart to deep roots with many fine roots that spread out quite strongly and rather flat (no deep tap roots)

For the snowdrop tree recommended for use as a solitary plant, protected does not necessarily mean protected from the wind (although a young tree in a wind lane needs protection from the wind until the roots anchor it sufficiently), rather it is more about winter hardiness. Whether the snowdrop tree in your region will survive the winter well should be checked carefully:

  • The sales descriptions refer to “very good winter hardiness”, “hardy” (without comment), but also “hardy to -15 ° C”
  • The wood is native to the east coast of the USA
  • There the winter hardiness (USDA hardiness) is classified as follows:
  • USDA Zone 6a (-23.3 ° C) to 9b (-3.8 ° C)
  • Basically fits Germany (USDA Zone 6 to 8)
  • But Halesia is a little more sensitive as a foreign guest than native trees in familiar surroundings
  • According to experience reports, even older snowdrop trees have already succumbed to atypical winter cold
  • So ask exactly when buying:
  • Where was the Halesia raised?
  • Has it been transplanted enough times to have strong roots?
  • How did the toughening or winter hardiness training look like?
  • The milder the region and the closer the nursery, the fewer problems there is

If you live in a region that is really cold in winter, you should try to get Halesia as a balled product (with a root ball) because these woody plants are grown in naturally grown soil that provides an optimal supply of water and nutrients. Brings a much stronger and bushier growth compared to the container goods that are often offered, but can only be sold and planted from May to October, while trees in plant containers are sold all year round. Container goods can also be planted all year round if the ground is not frozen; In cold regions, however, you should always plant the snowdrop tree in spring so that it can take root throughout the season and thus survive the first winter better.

Snowdrop trees in the plant container are planted as deep as they are in the pot; Bale goods are placed in the ground with the root protection around the bale, which rots in the ground over time. If there are other trees in the vicinity, a planting distance of at least 1/2 the width of the plant should be kept. The snowdrop tree can also be cultivated in a large bucket, in which the soil should then be renewed every two to three years (if necessary, the next larger bucket is also chosen).

Similar to the clematis, the root area of ​​Halesia should be kept cool, i.e. always in the shade if possible. For this reason, among other things, underplanting the snowdrop tree is recommended. All perennials that can tolerate partial shade and can cope with the slightly acidic or neutral soil at the site are suitable. Apart from that, underplanting woody plants also has advantages for garden ecology and maintenance: With underplanting, you create a small community of plants that mutually benefit from each other. Weeds cannot develop in the undergrowth; if you choose the right perennials, the community will also take care of many more insects than the unfamiliar guest alone. The soil is protected against drying out and freezing; the soil surface is populated by more beneficial soil organisms, thereby looser and better ventilated. The snowdrop tree itself can also be (half) planted under, e.g. B. under tall pines in the garden.

Ongoing maintenance from A – Z

Watering : Until the young snowdrop tree has grown, it should never have to be thirsty. But always water only when the top layer of soil has dried, Halesia is sensitive to waterlogging. When the wood has grown and is well rooted, additional watering is only required in the event of prolonged drought.

If you put a layer of nutrient-rich mulch at the base of the snowdrop tree, it doesn’t need any fertilizer at all. If the snowdrop tree is planted under, you can treat all the plants on the site to some ripe compost or nutrient-rich plant manure in the spring.

To cut:
The snowdrop tree can, if necessary, be pruned after flowering, but does not have to. So you can keep it fairly small by regular trimming, around 2 to 3 m in height and width. In this case, start the pruning early; heavy pruning into the old wood would unnecessarily weaken the shrub. If this is not necessary, Halesia is exposed to a little more than a little directly after flowering. You should refrain from the usual spring pruning of the snowdrop bush, as it blooms on last year’s wood, you would cut away the blossoms of the next season. Radical rejuvenation cuts of old neglected snowdrop trees are possible and should then be made in February or March. Then take out the longest and oldest shoots,

Young snowdrop trees need some winter protection in cold regions, older ones usually come alone over the winter. Only if severe late frosts were on the horizon in March or April, you should at least try to protect the roots; there won’t be much you can do to prevent damage to the flower.


Snowdrop trees can be propagated in several ways:

  • In autumn, the snowdrop tree develops its winged stone fruit with seeds
  • This seed can immediately be used for sowing elsewhere
  • But that’s not really worth it, the seedlings will only bloom after a number of years
  • Propagation is faster if you cut softwood cuttings (only green wood) in summer
  • They can be planted immediately; it is best to add a few rooting hormones because the cuttings are hesitant to take root
  • Halesia can also be propagated by sinkers, which are planted in the ground in spring and are supposed to take root better than cuttings
  • Collecting seeds (letting the pods dry on the plant, breaking them open, cleaning and storing the seeds) is also possible, but rather tedious:
  • In the nursery, the seeds are stored mixed with moist sand for 2-3 months at 15-25 ° C
  • Then they are stratified for just as long at 1-5 ° C in the refrigerator or outdoors
  • Then sowing takes place at 20 ° C, the dark germs must be completely covered with soil

Species and varieties

The snowdrop tree belongs to the storax family, the genus Halesia comprises only five species worldwide:

  • Halesia carolina , native to the southern US east coast, is probably traded together with the externally identical H. tetraptera as the “snowdrop tree Halesia carolina”
  • Halesia diptera , large-flowered, slow-growing species with a final height of approx. 8 m, is considered the most beautiful snowdrop tree, winter hardiness zone 4-7 interesting for rough locations, care, etc. such as H. carolina
  • Halesia macgregorii , recently imported Halesia from China, lighter leaves, initially pale green bells with long golden yellow pistils = tenderness as a tree, growth and care like US species, needs winter protection when young
  • Halesia tetraptera, synonym Halesia carolina , snowdrop tree No. 2 from the US east coast, so closely related to H. carolina that not even biologists can distinguish the species (probably both sold as H. carolina) without genetic testing
  • Halesia tetraptera var. Monticola (synonyms H. monticola, H. carolina var. Monticola), strong species, which in German communities in sunny, protected locations is already a sturdy wood on public areas, final height 12 m
  • Styrax japonica , Japanese snowdrop tree, closely related Storax tree from a neighboring genus, whose pretty white flowers don’t look quite as bell-shaped and which has slightly different growth and needs than a Halesia

H. carolina / tetraptera and Styrax japonica can be found in well-stocked stores everywhere, H. monticola and H. diptera are available in nurseries that specialize in special plants, H. macgregorii arrived in the first English specialty nurseries in winter 2017 – You have the full choice, only access is more or less easy.

The snowdrop tree is a real asset to the home garden, especially with its insect-friendly underplanting. The first snowdrop tree imported to us has now been joined by the hardier, more robust and slightly larger Halesia, so there is now a suitable snowdrop tree for rougher locations and larger gardens too.

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