Snowberry Bush Care: How To Grow Snowberry Shrubs
The first thing you need to do when growing snowberries is to make sure your soil is not too loose or compacted. You want it to have a bit of a loamy texture so that the plants can easily take root and grow.
If your soil is very loose, then the roots will just get buried under the surface of the ground and they won’t even survive!
Next, you need to fertilize your snowberry shrub with a balanced fertilizer every month. The best way to do this is to use a drip system that gives off water evenly throughout the year.
You don’t want any part of the plant being starved of nutrients because it could cause root rot or other problems later on down the road.
If you are using a regular potting mix, then just add one tablespoon of organic perlite to each gallon of water. This will provide all the necessary nutrients needed for your plants.
You can also use peat moss or vermiculite mixed into the soil as well if you prefer. Be careful though, since these materials contain lots of clay which could leach out minerals from your soil and harm your plants.
Watering and Feeding Your Snowberry
Watering and feeding your snowberry is fairly easy. While it prefers moist soil any time that you water it, if you notice the leaves begin to curl or wilt, then you are watering it too much and need to let the soil dry out more between waterings.
Fertilizing your plant is important too. You can use an organic fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, but avoid using any high carbon materials such as those found in blood meal or bone meal.
Snowberries can grow in partial shade or full sun. You should put it somewhere with lots of direct sunlight especially if you are trying to grow a bush dense with flowers and berries instead of a small shrub. It can even be used to prevent soil erosion along steep hillsides.
Pruning Your Snowberry
When you are growing snowberries shrubs, pruning them is just as important as watering and feeding them. Pruning a shrub not only keeps it from getting out of control, but also causes it to grow fuller and bush out more.
This is especially true if you prune the shrub after it has bloomed. You need to prune back the lateral branches and shorten the central leader by a few inches.
When you do this, the shrub will respond by increasing the number of flowers and berries that it produces for the next two years. This is due to the fact that you have stimulated a new flush of growth which will allow it to put more energy into its blossoms and fruits.
You can also cut the shrubs back hard every couple of years and it will respond by producing an abundance of flowers and berries over the next few years. Each shrub should produce at least a pint of berries per year.
If you want to collect them for preserves, jellies or just to eat fresh, then make sure you pick them before the birds do!
How to Grow Snowberries in Pots
You can also grow snowberries in pots if you don’t want to bother with staking and propping them up. Potted shrubs are perfect for patios or decks that don’t get much sun, but need a dash of color and interest.
These require just a little more work than those growing in the ground, but produce beautiful berries just the same.
The potting soil you choose is important. Look for a sterile potting mix that does not contain any fertilizer or other additives.
You will need to fertilize it in other ways.
You should grow the shrub in a pot that is at least 12 inches across and deep. A one gallon container is perfect, but a three gallon pot will work as well.
Fill it with your potting soil and insert the shrub into it. Tap the pot a few times on your sidewalk to get the soil level even.
Water it thoroughly and place it in a location that receives a few hours of direct sunlight each day. Keep it watered and fed regularly like you would any houseplant.
It will produce flowers and berries in time. If you wan to harvest the fruit, then pick off the flowers as they come in to prevent them from going to seed. Snip them off at the base of the stem.
Before You Pick….
When you are ready to harvest, be sure to wear gloves as the berry can stain your skin a deep purple if it gets on you. Gently pick the berries and rinse them in a colander with cool water.
The berries will keep in the fridge for up to a week in a sealed container. They also freeze well.
There are a number of ways that you can use the berries. They can be used as a natural dye for cloth, paper, and other materials.
Use them in jams and jellies, wine, flavored vinegar, or to make tea. They can be eaten right off the shrub or turned into a refreshing snowberry lemonade or beer.
If you have room, you can grow several shrubs in a larger container and train them to grow up along a balcony railing or trellis. This helps give the berries better exposure to the sun.
No matter what you use these shrubs for, they are perfect for places that don’t get a lot of sun or are scorched by the summer heat. They only need minimal care and thrive in difficult conditions making them an asset in the landscape.
They are fast growing and can be transplanted easily making it a good choice for any gardener.
*The fruit pictured above is the snowberry, but black, wild and dew berries all have edible fruit as well.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Response of shrubs to simulated browsing by EE Willard, CM McKell – The Journal of Wildlife Management, 1978 – JSTOR
Simulated grazing management systems in relation to shrub growth responses. by EE Willard, CM McKell – Rangeland Ecology & …, 1973 – journals.uair.arizona.edu
Sprouting and carbohydrate reserves of two wildland shrubs following partial defoliation. by EE Willard, CM McKELL – Rangeland Ecology & …, 1978 – journals.uair.arizona.edu
The effect of egg load on superparasitism by the snowberry fly by EJ Van Randen, BD Roitberg – Entomologia Experimentalis et …, 1996 – Wiley Online Library
First report of anthracnose of common snowberry caused by Sphaceloma symphoricarpi in the Czech Republic. by V Krejzar – Plant Protection Science, 2006 – cabdirect.org
Estimating shrub forage yield and utilization using a photographic technique by D Damiran, T DelCurto, D Johnson, S Findholt… – 2006 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) poisoning in children by WH Lewis – JAMA, 1979 – jamanetwork.com
Influence of forest site on total nonstructural carbohydrate levels of pinegrass, elk sedge, and snowberry. by JK Krueger, DJ Bedunah – Rangeland Ecology & …, 1988 – journals.uair.arizona.edu
Evaluation of an attempt to cultivate shrubs and trees on a heap of a potash mine by L Kahl, R Kluge, S Thomas – Landscape and urban planning, 2000 – Elsevier