Fragrant snowball

Flowers of fragrant snowball viburnum.

Fragrant snowball viburnum is a large, open shrub reaching 6 to 10 feet high. It is one of the last of the very fragrant, snowball-shaped flowers to bloom in spring. The dark oval green leaves turn a beautiful reddish-purple in the fall.

Botanical name:

Viburnum x carlcephalum

All Common Names:

Fragrant snowball, Carlcephalum viburnum

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Hedge,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Screen,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)

Mature Height:

8 to 10 feet high

Mature Width:

8 to 10 feet wide

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • May be difficult to find in nurseries

Ornamental Interest:

  • Spring blossoms,
  • Fragrant flowers,
  • Showy flowers

Season of Interest:

  • Early spring,
  • Mid spring,
  • Early summer,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • Pink,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round,
  • Upright,
  • Vase-shaped

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate


  • Birds,
  • Butterflies

More Information:

Size & Form

A large rounded shrub reaching 6 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun to part shade in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Shallow-rooted and benefits with a layer of mulch to retain moisture.
Prune after flowering

Disease, pests, and problems

Leaf spot, viburnum crown borer, scale

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

This is a hybrid originated in England and is a cross between V. carlesii and V. macrocephalum var. keteleeri.

Attracts birds and butterflies

Birds and butterflies

Bark color and texture 

Light brown to gray.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, 4 to 5 inch long, rounded foliage with wavy margins.
The leaves are dark green with a slight luster in summer changing to reddish-purple in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Very fragrant, large, white flowers arranged in dense, lumpy, snowball-like clusters (cymes 3 to 5 inches wide) in late April to early May.
Last of the semi-snowball, fragrant viburnums to bloom in spring. 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Sparse, berry-like drupes ripen to black.  Fruit is not particularly abundant or showy.
For better fruiting potential, plant more than one plant.

Location of Viburnum x carlcephalum (Fragrant snowball) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.