A small group of twiggy, deciduous shrubs, mainly grown for their attractive winter berries. Often used as an informal hedge. Although not well behaved or top-rated, is very useful for its tolerance of shade, pollution and poor soils.

Family: Caprifoliaceae
Botanical Name: Symphoricarpos
Common Names: Snowberry, Coral berry, Indian currant

Foliage: Deciduous, simple ovate, green leaves.

Flowers: Small bell-shaped, pink or white flowers, followed by medium-sized white, pink or purple berries.

Flowering Period: Summer.

Soil: Well-drained to poorly drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun, shade or partial shade. Can be grown in a north, south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.

Habit: Bushy, sometimes suckering.

Type: Shrub or small tree.

Origin: North America and China.

Toxicity: The berries are toxic if eaten.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Symphoricarpos

Very easy to grow and generally unfussy and trouble free. They can look a little unkempt on their own, so they are best grown as a hedge or as part of a shrubbery.

Plant outside in early autumn or spring. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year.

Snowberries will grow almost anywhere in sun or shade and in almost any type of well-drained soil, even poor soils. The best berries are produced when grow in an open sunny position. Pollution and drought tolerant once established.

Useful for informal hedging. The autumn branches of S. albus laevigatus, with lush white fruits are ideal for flower arranging.

Snowberry easily self-seeds and spreads by suckers, so it can become invasive if not kept in check.

Taking Care of Symphoricarpos

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established.

Pruning Symphoricarpos

Pruning is not normally necessary except to shape or restrict growth. Regularly trim Hedges and thin out overgrown plants in the autumn.

Remove suckers to prevent spread.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free. May suffer from leaf spot.

Propagating Symphoricarpos

Can be easily increased from softwood cuttings taken in early summer or hardwood cuttings taken in autumn. Alternatively, layer or transplant rooted suckers in the autumn.

Popular Varieties of Symphoricarpos

Symphoricarpos albus (snowberry) is a robust deciduous shrub with dense foliage and dark green leaves. The small pink summer flowers are followed by medium-sized white round fruits in autumn. Height to ft (1.5m). Available at Van Meuwen.

Symphoricarpos x chenaultii (Chenault coralberry) is a low, spreading, deciduous shrub with arching, rooting branches that makes excellent ground cover. Cultivar 'Brain de Soleil' is a golden leaved form, adorned in late summer with creamy-green blooms. Available at Thompson & Morgan. 'Hancock' has short racemes of tiny bell-shaped pink flowers in summer, followed by dense clusters of dark pink fruit.

Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii ('White Hedge' snowberry) is a good compact form. Height & Spread to 32in (80cm). Cultivar 'White Hedge' produces greenish-white flowers, followed by white berries in autumn. Available at Thompson & Morgan. 'Mother of Pearl' produces small whitish-pink flowers from early summer to autumn, followed by bright pinkish berries that persist up until February. Available at Gardening Express.

Symphoricarpos 'Magical Candy' is a compact form that produces a mass of small pink flowers in summer, followed by pink fleshy berries in autumn. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Symphoricarpos 'Magical Galaxy' is a attractive form with yellow-green leaves and pretty white flowers in summer, followed by lush white berries in autumn. Height & Spread to 32in (80cm). Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry, Indian currant) is an erect shrub, with greenish-white flowers followed by pink to purple berries. Cultivar 'Foliis Variegatis' is a compact form with small green leaves edged with yellow. Height to 4ft (1.2m), spread to 6ft (1.8m).