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There are many species of viburnum grown in European gardens, as these shrubs are present on our continent even in nature, so cultivation, even of hybrid or particular species, is quite easy in the garden, where they certainly receive much more care than in the wild . Viburnum opulus, also known as a snowball viburnum, deserves a place among the most beautiful and particular viburnums because of its enormous spherical inflorescences. It is a small deciduous viburnum, which generally does not exceed 200-250 cm in height; in Italy it is also widespread in the wild, and is native to Europe and Asia; it produces large trilobate leaves, very reminiscent of the foliage of some maples; they are light green in color, and become orange or yellow in autumn, before falling. The shrub has an erect habit, slightly globular, with a good development of ramifications, with quite dense foliage. From the end of winter to the beginning of spring it produces large inflorescences with umbrella, or spherical, white or pink, very fragrant. The flowers of viburnum opulus are very reminiscent of the flowers of hydrangea, and like these in fact the flowers subtended by four small white bracts are sterile, while the fertile flowers are devoid of bracts; therefore in the varieties with completely spherical flower we usually find only sterile flowers, while the plants that produce fertile flowers usually have umbrella-like inflorescences, with the outer edge consisting of sterile flowers, as in a hydrangea with inflorescence lace cap. Fertile flowers are followed by small red fruits, which often remain on the plant until the first winter colds, very decorative.
How to grow snowball viburnum
The viburnum are vigorous shrubs, which do not require great cultivation care; they settle in the common garden soil, enriched with little universal soil, sand and manure, in order to obtain a soft and rich substrate, where the young shrub can sink its root system rapidly and develop at its best; preference is given to a semi-shaded position, because the plant does not like the strong sun of June and July, but above all because in this way the flowering is prolonged for a few days, leaving us to enjoy the beautiful inflorescences longer.
The young plants, which have recently settled down, may need watering in the dry season, especially if the drought is protracted for a long time; long-planted shrubs are generally satisfied with rainfall due to normal spring and autumn rains; occasionally it may be necessary to water the specimens at home for a long time, during the summer. Avoid leaving the plant for a long time in an area of the garden subject to high humidity, because the roots are easily hit by harmful rots.
They can also be cultivated in pots, we remember in this case to water even more regularly, even the adult plants. At the end of winter it spreads around the slow release granular fertilizer for flowering plants, which will melt with the rains.
The planned garden
Unfortunately some shrubs typical of the gardens of our grandmothers tend to see themselves less and less in our gardens, this happens to many viburnum, but also to fortsythia, to Judas trees, to the Japanese peach; on the one hand these shrubs, or small trees, are not much loved because they are supplanted by evergreen shrubs: many nursery customers want plants that are beautiful throughout the year, as if even in Italy it was obligatory to have gardens that do not follow the seasons, with a sort of ever lush tropical gardens.
The other reason why these plants are scarcely present in gardens is that many uninformed people tend to have all the plants in the garden pruned between the beginning of autumn and the end of winter, to have the garden "in order".
Unfortunately, nature does not follow these strict rules, and each plant has evolved according to very personal rules and motivations; therefore often in February we see viburnum, forsythia, jewish trees, mercilessly pruned, which then at the end of winter will produce only a few small flowers, and within a few years they will be replaced by some evergreen shrub or some rose, because flourish. "
Snowball viburnum: Practical advice
When we go to the nursery to buy a new shrub for the garden, let's inform the nursery about some fundamental data; certainly it is important to know the type of soil in which to bury it, which fertilizer to supply, in which place to place it in the garden.
It is also very important to know if the plant, in this case precisely the viburnum, blooms on new wood or old wood: in this way we can ask the gardener who keeps the garden to prune only the shrubs that bloom on new wood in winter, and to leave others untouched, in order to enjoy their flowering. The viburnum opulus or snowball prepares flower buds already in autumn, so it is strongly advised against pruning the shrub before flowering, because this would remove most of the flowers; the pruning is carried out only at the end of flowering, removing the damaged or leaking rai from the rounded silhouette of the foliage.