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Summer Snowflake & Passion Frost

March 26, 2014

Posted in : Plants We Dig


Many of you are familiar with an old garden standard, Viburnum plicatum tomentosum or "Doublefile Viburnum," as it is commonly known. Fantastic white two-ranked flowers on the stem in mid-May. The plant can be absolutely covered with blooms and the fall color is a striking red. It will tolerate filtered light very well, but can thrive in full sun. This viburnum likes well-drained soil and responds incredibly well to pruning. It will reach a height of 10’+…..hey wait a second. Maybe some of you remember the original SNL shows. Gilda Radner as Emily Litella “never mind”. What we meant to say is Viburnum "Summer Snowflake."

You can take the cultural requirements from above, the flower color and timing soils, pruning, all apply to summer snowflake. The key difference is in the size of the plant and flowering characteristics. This plant is a compact version of Doublefile. It will only grow 5-8’ tall with a 4’ spread. So tight spaces are welcome. Snowflake’s claim to fame however is the sporadic blossom from May through September. It will put on a heavy show in May and continue to bloom intermittently through fall. It’s a tough, relatively pest-free plant waiting for you to try it in your landscape.

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Pieris japonica ‘passion frost’ is a plant that really shows promise. Much like straight Japanese Andromeda the plant blooms early. In warm winters they may start to pop in late March. The flowers persist for about 2 weeks and hang down like panicles. The flowers on passion frost are reddish pink unlike most pieris cultivars. They are quite showy. When the flower show is over, the foliage carries the load. Passion frost has white variegation on its leaf margins, which stand out in the garden. This is a plant that will give you four season interest, hard to come by in a woody shrub. Remember all pieris do best in filtered light and it is best to keep them out of full sun, morning sun is fine. Well drained, acidic soil is the ticket here. Ultimately, the plant will grow to 4-5’ with a 2-3’ spread. We definitely dig Passion Frost.

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