Snowberry, the pearl tree

Snowberry is renowned for its cute berries which it bears at the end of summer and in winter.

A summary of Snowberry facts

Name – Symphoricarpos
Family – Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle family)
Type – shrub

Height – 6 ½ feet (2 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – June to October

Particularly well suited to being grown as a hedge or a standalone, it will also attract birds in your garden.

Planting snowberry

Indifferently, spring or fall but avoid freezing or sweltering hot weather to plant.

Favor rather sun-endowed spots, or with light shade, since snowberry is naturally found in forest underbrush.

  • Follow our advice on planting shrubs
  • Water regularly over the 1st year after planting.

Propagating snowberry

Stem cuttings

It is perfectly possible to multiply your snowberry. Cuttings is a technique that is easy to succeed with this shrub.

  • Propagate through cuttings at the end of summer and in fall.
  • Collect 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) cuttings on the current year’s growth.
  • Place the cuttings in nursery pots, in cutting or seedling soil mix.
  • Keep the cuttings outdoors, sheltered from direct sun, and ensure constant moisture in the substrate.
  • Transplant to the ground in the following spring, or in a larger pot and wait for one more year before transplanting it.

Root cuttings

Snowberry is a very vigorous shrub. When conditions are good, it will send roots out in all directions.

  • You can make root cuttings from these.
  • Dig long roots out and cut them in 1 foot sections (30 cm).
  • Plant these where you’d like them to grow.

Snowberry will naturally spread into dense thickets. If you wish to control the spread, set up a system similar to that of the bamboo rhizome barrier.

  • A sheet of special thick plastic is buried around the plant to keep roots from spreading.
  • If setting this up on a shrub that is already well established, remember to prune the plant at the same time.
  • Indeed, since large roots are removed, the snowberry will suffer the equivalent of transplant shock damage.

Symphoricarpos fruits forming.

Pruning and caring for snowberry

Caring for snowberry is quite simple, especially when it has settled in properly.

Pruning isn’t really needed but growing a hedge often implies pruning on a regular basis.

  • If you wish to balance the shape or reduce the size of the branches, best is to prune at the beginning of spring.
  • For snowberry bushes planted as a standalone, clear the center of the shrub to let light filter through.
  • Avoid pruning in summer or you won’t have any berries.
  • Eliminate dead wood and the most fragile branches as you notice them.

Include snowberry in your mixed hedges and among your bird berry patch!

All there is to know about snowberry

Winter sees snowberries alone on leafless branches.Also called the Pearl tree, this shrub is often noted for its white or pink berries that appear at the end of summer. They can hang on to the tree all winter long.

Even though its blooming isn’t really spectacular, it has the advantage of being abundant and particularly melliferous.

In shrub beds, potted or as as a standalone, it will fit right into you garden.

Snowberry also appreciates growing alongside riverbeds, where it evolves into natural side hedges.

The white berries are poisonous because they contain alkaloid compounds which induce vomiting, particularly for children.

Remarkable snowberry varieties

  • Symphoricarpos albus – Vigorous, it bears cute cream-white colored berries in winter.
  • Symphoricarpos chenaultii – Its fruits are pinkish and its bearing spreads out, almost like ground cover.
  • Symphoricarpos orbicalitus – Bears distinctive stark red fruits.

Smart tip about snowberry

Don’t swallow the berries because they’re poisonous and thus aren’t edible.

Read also on the topic of shrubs


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Fruiting branch of Snowberry by John D. Reynolds ☆ under © CC BY-NC 4.0
Fruit formation by Christiane Hölting ★ under Pixabay license
Fruits in winter by Hans Braxmeier under Pixabay license