Click for previous Image Image 1 of 2 Viburnum plicatum Japanese Snowball Viburnum

Viburnum plicatum 'Nanum'

Japanese Snowball Viburnum

Plant Type:

DECIDUOUS SHRUBS

Viburnum plicatum ‘Nanum’ (true form) – Japanese Snowball Viburnum is well known and deservedly so; this one, not so much… We hope to change that status. 'Nanum' is a truly dwarf and rare form which came our way from Environmentals Nursery. V. p. ‘Nanum’ is low, mounding and densely growing. It should not be confused with 'Nanum Semperflorens' (a.k.a. 'Watanabe') which grows taller, less dense and produces lace cap flowers. May flowers are rounded popcorn cymes which surprisingly are fertile as this shrub does set some late season red berries – not many, but some. (Many dwarf and miniature plants are trapped in “genetic juvenility” and are, therefore, sterile – incapable of fruiting. Tom Ward, formerly of Arnold Arboretum shared this factoid with us.) Fall color has consistently been a bronze-red or red-purple, very nice with other woody plants that sport yellow, orange and bright red autumn tones. Our specimen was about 4’ tall at its center in 9 years before we had to remove it because it had outgrown it designated spot. It grew so densely that low-nesting birds have consistently enjoyed its cover and have successfully raised brood after brood through the years. Yes, we will find another spot or two or even three for Viburnum plicatum ‘Nanum’! We take care of the birds at Quackin’ Grass; in turn, the birds take care of the bugs and endlessly entertain us.


NOTE: Now, in 2021, I've come to question the validity of this dwarfer form of Japanese Snowball Viburnum. In average ground in full sun exposure this shrub remained smaller it seemed. But there had been no side by side comparison of the straight species. Two more have been planted in mostly sunny exposure but in a better soil. These have grown taller into large globes, approximately 7 feet tall in nine years. The internodes are shorter. This is a denser growing shrub. So, maybe yes but perhaps no. The jury's out.


 


Height:

4-5 ft

Spread:

6-7 ft

Colors:

White

Zone:

5 to 7(8)
What is my hardiness zone?

Characteristics and Attributes for Viburnum plicatum 'Nanum'

Season of Interest (Flowering)

  • Spring

Season of Interest (Foliage)

  • Spring / Summer / Autumn

Autumn Interest

  • Autumn Leaf Color

Nature Attraction

  • Deer Resistant
  • Songbirds
  • Honey Bees & Native Bees

Light

  • Full Sun
  • Mostly Sunny

Attributes

  • Hedge
  • Border
  • Hedgerow
  • Foundation
  • Rock Garden
  • Wildlife Garden
  • Shrub Border

Growth Rate in the Garden

  • Slow

Soil

  • Fertile

Origins

  • Garden Origin

Propagated By

  • Cutting Grown

Genus Overview: Viburnum

Common Name: Viburnum

Viburnum. This genus is full of fantastic, multi-season garden worthy shrubs. Garden heroes. Spring flowers, often large and showy, many with heady sweet fragrance are arranged in cymes. Some smell of musk (Viburnum dilatatum) while others produce no fragrance at all. Flowers are followed with berries. If late season and autumn berries are desired then planting two of a species will ensure fruit set; for instance, Viburnum dilatatum 'Erie' and V. dilatatum 'Michael Dodge' will pollinate each other and produce fruit. Viburnum cassinoides is closely allied with V. nudum; but if the flowering times do not overlap then there will be no fruit. However, if you plant V. nudum 'Winterthur' in proximity with V. nudum var. angustifolium, 'Longwood', 'Moonshine' or 'Pink Beauty' berries will abound. Another interesting example is V. lantana which crosses with V. burejaeticum and vice versa. Any V. plicatum selection such as 'Shasta' will pollinate with all other V. plicatum selections. But if you were to plant two 'Shasta' side by side with no other V. plicatum in near proximity then your effort will be fruitless. As with almost all in the universe of plants there are exceptions. There is one viburnum which appears to be self-fruitful, Viburnum setigerum the Tea Viburnum. And on the other spectrum are two I can think of off-hand that are barren, Viburnum plicatum 'Roseum' and Viburnum plicatum 'Kern's Pink'. Oftentimes, the dwarf viburnums reamin in a juvenile state and do not produce fruit. All Viburnum of any size that do produce fruit are magnificent in the late season garden. And they feed all manner of birds. Larger, denser shrubs provide cover and nesting opportunities. Nearly all Viburnum have terrific autumn foliage colors, too. Viburnums are members of Caprifoliaceae. All prefer part to full sun and fertile soils. All are cutting grown. Many thanks to Gary Ladman of Classic Viburnums who generously set us straight regarding some of the details we had originally incorrectly lauded... ya can't know everything!