Guelder-rose is a very beautiful shrub, particularly appreciated for its appealing spring blooming.
Key Guelder rose facts
Name – Viburnum opulus
Family – Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle family)
Type – Shrub
Height – 6 ½ to 16 feet (2 to 5 meters)
Exposure – full sun or part sun
Soil – ordinary, well drained
Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – April to June
Proper planting, caring for it and pruning contribute a lot to the proper growth of your guelder-rose and to its blooming and spring as well.
Preferably in fall or spring for specimens purchased in pots or in containers.
- It likes being in sunny locations and even more so in lightly shaded emplacements.
- It loves well drained soil, but still needs to be watered in case of extended dry spell.
- Follow our advice on planting shrubs.
For the first few years after planting, feel free to water now and then to ensure proper settling in and guarantee the growth of the shrub.
To multiply your guelder-rose, wait for the end of summer and prepare cuttings from semi-hardened wood, or simply with layering.
It isn’t really necessary to prune it except if it grows too large.
Wait for the blooming of the guelder-rose to end if you wish to reduce or reshape the shrub.
- Find our advice on pruning shrubs.
Note that blooming only occurs on growth from the previous year.
- If you prune in spring, you might be cutting off last year’s growth. This means no blooming until next year!
- Best is to prune after the blooming, in early or mid-summer.
Hard pruning of guelder rose, guilder rose
Like most Viburnum, it’s best by far to spread hard pruning over two-three years. Three years is best since it will ensure survival.
- right after the blooming (early summer), cut back to the trunk about one in three large branches. Also remove dead wood. Trim other branches much shorter than usual, removing a third of their length.
- in the following year (same season), cut back another group of branches: half of the long ones that remain. Thin shoots that will have appeared from the trunk, keeping those growing outwards. If some of the shoots you keep are already a foot long (25-30 cm), snip the tip off to trigger branching.
- in the last year, again early summer, cut back the last group of long branches. At this stage, you can cut the main trunk shorter if you want to, as long as growth has already started lower down beneath the cut mark.
Learn more about guelder-rose
Guelder-rose, traditionally called Snowball bush, is beautiful shrub which has a blooming as magnificent in spring as its foliage is in fall.
As part of a hedge, as a standalone or in shrub beds, its growing and maintenance is simple.
Also part of the Viburnum family is laurestine or Viburnum tinus which is often found in our gardens, and also ‘Watanabe’ doublefile Japanese snowball which has a blooming that lasts for a very long time, from May to October.
Read also on shrubs:
Smart tip about guelder-rose
Avoid locations that are too exposed to harsh sun.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Guelder-rose hedge by Robert Nyman under © CC BY 2.0
Guelder-rose blooming on the way by Mike Finn under © CC BY 2.0
Shooting for the sky by Tuike under Pixabay license
My 2-year old snowball bushes did not bloom this spring. Can I prune them now? Will they flower in the fall? If pruned now will they bloom nest spring?
Hello Jane, at this point it may be a bit early to prune, since some snowball species flower in May, June, or even winter (think November). Also, it’s important to know that flowers only appear on branches that grew during last year’s season.
So I would recommend not touching it for another whole year:
– if the variety is a Viburnum tinus, it’ll bear flowers from November to March, in winter.
– if it’s a Japanese snowball, it’ll start blooming end of May until October.
– if, lastly, it’s guelder-rose, as in this article, it should also start blooming in a few week’s time, on last year’s growth. I added a picture in the article to show what to look for: flower buds getting ready to bloom!
In any case, if you prune now, new growth would still appear during the summer – this new growth is where flowers will appear next spring!
I want to find a Viburnum opulusm Guilder-rose to plant this spring. Can you tell me where I may find one?
I live in southwest Oklahoma, open to ordering if one can’t be found in this area.
Hi Jeanne! It seems to be available at the Mcalester Lowe’s, maybe that isn’t too far from where you live. It goes under the name “White Eastern Snowball” in their inventory. Maybe call them beforehand to double-check whether they have it – and whether their garden center is in lockdown. If not, it seems they can deliver. There are for sure other garden centers, but I’m not so familiar with OK. This isn’t a shrub that should be too hard to find, hopefully.