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TREES & plants

Doublefile viburnum

Doublefile viburnum in full flower.

Doublefile viburnum or  Japanese snowball viburnum, Viburnum plicatum, produces 2 to 3 inch wide showy, snowball-type clusters of white flowers in spring.  A dense, upright, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub with somewhat horizontal branching that grows 8 to 12 feet high.  Dark green leaves are strongly-veined, toothed,  with pleated upper surfaces turn a burgundy red to purplish red in fall. Although this shrub is well suited for the Midwestern landscape it can occasionally winter kill to the ground.  

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name: 
Viburnum plicatum
All Common Names: 
Doublefile viburnum, Japanese snowball viburnum
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Round
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 

Size and Form

8 to 10 feet high and 9 to 12 feet wide

Tree & Plant Care

Best in fulll sun to part shade, in well-drained soil
Although hardy to the midwest, plant in a protected site. plant can dieback in cold winters.
Flowers on last years wood, prune after flowering

Disease, pests, and problems

Plants can occasionally winter kill to the ground.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan and China

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite,  dark green, 4 inch long  leaves are strongly-veined, toothed,  with pleated upper surface.
Dark green in summer turn a reddish purple in fall

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

 Showy, 2 to 3 inch wide snowball-type clusters of white flowers in spring 
White flowers have no fragrance

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Viburnum plicatum produces no fruit.

Cultivars and their differences

Newport™ Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum 'Newzam'): A compact, 4 to 5 feet high and 3 feet wide, rounded habit, white snowball-like clusters of flowers, Thisck dark green foliage turns burgundy in fall.

Popcorn Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum 'Popcorn'):  A large 8 to 10 feet high rounded  shrub with 3 inch white snowball-type flowers.

Mary Milton Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. plicatum 'Mary Milton'): An upright shrub reaching 8 to 10 feet high and 6 feet wide. New foliage is reddish-bronze. Flowers are greenish-pink buds opening to soft pink snowball-like flowers.