The gleaming white berries of Symphoricarpos albus, marble-sized and borne in clusters during autumn and into winter, justly earn this shrub its common name of snowberry. Introduced to the UK in the early 19th century from North America, snowberry is often found in the wild as it was widely used in plantations as cover for game birds, as it forms dense thickets due to its suckering habit. It therefore provides shelter for birds and other wildlife, and the foliage is used by leaf-cutter bees, but otherwise it has little wildlife value. The berries are eaten by birds only in very hard winters, and they cause stomach upset in humans.


Snowberry fruits are the only real ornamental feature of snowberry, appearing in autumn and lasting well into winter. The pink, bell-shaped summer flowers are tiny and the small, oval, dark green leaves are unremarkable and deciduous. The spreading, suckering habit of snowberry makes it a good candidate for informal planting, but this makes it less suited to garden borders.

Snowberry can be invasive in gardens and is considered a problem species in woodland where, like rhododendron, it out-competes native plants. If you live near woodland you might consider not growing snowberry, due to its tendency to sucker.

How to grow snowberry

Grow snowberry in any reasonable soil, planting in a naturalistic setting in sun or part shade. Plant in autumn if possible, or if at other times, keep watered until established. Prune in late winter to early spring. Propagate by division or hardwood cuttings, in autumn.

Where to grow snowberry

Snowberry berries

Plant snowberry where the twiggy, suckering growth will look at home, rather than in a garden border. Ideal locations are woodland edges or in a natural-looking planting of shrubs and trees. Snowberry makes a reasonable hedge, either alone or as part of a mixed native hedge, though bear in mind it gives little in the way of screening once the leaves have fallen. Snowberry is tough, easy to grow, and thrives in any reasonable soil that doesn’t become waterlogged.

How to plant snowberry

Ideally, plant snowberry in autumn in order to establish while top growth is dormant. Dig a hole wide enough for the roots to be spread out, plant at the same depth as growing previously, firm the soil well and water in.

More like this

How to care for snowberry

White berries of Symphoricarpos albus known as common snowberry on a bush.
White berries of Symphoricarpos albus. Getty Images

Once established, snowberry needs no regular care apart from pruning when needed to reduce or restrict growth.

How to prune snowberry

Prune in late winter to early spring. Take out dead growth and thin out dense shoots in the centre of the plant. Reduce height as required if growing as a hedge. Dig out suckers (shoots that spread out from below ground) if necessary to limit spread.

How to propagate snowberry

Snowberry flowers. Getty Images
Snowberry flowers. Getty Images

The easiest way to propagate snowberry is to dig up suckers complete with roots, and transplant to their new site. The best time to do this is in autumn. You van also take hardwood cuttings, also in autumn, by selecting healthy woody shoots a year or two old, cutting into 15-20cm lengths, and inserting into good soil outside.


Pests and diseases

Snowberry is trouble-free from pests and diseases.

Advice on buying snowberry

  • Snowberry is available as pot grown or bare rooted plants
  • Bare-root plants are available from late autumn to late winter, while growth is dormant. Potted plants are available all year round
  • Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting

Where to buy snowberry