Location: Toronto Hunt Club area.

Is it now safe to transplant snowball bushes and a small bush? Our wisteria (about eight years old) is showing no signs of life. Is there still hope for revival?


Common plant names often create confusion in the botanical world. Different plants may share the same common name while having their own botanical name. Snowball bush is a term that some use for hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.) and others for viburnums (Viburnum spp.). Although they share the name snowball bush because of their large, white flower heads, hydrangeas and viburnums are distinctively different. So it would be helpful to know exactly what kind of bush you are speaking of, both in regards to the snowball bush and the other bush.

The best time to transplant a hydrangea is in the winter, around November or December, when it is dormant and has lost its leaves. The riskiest time is in the spring, when it’s leaves are starting to emerge. If you determine that you must move it now, it may take the plant a couple of years to regain it’s footing. According to Fine Gardening Magazine “Viburnums, generally speaking, are not tricky to transplant. Just keep these three points in mind if at all possible: Avoid doing so during the growing season, dig an adequate root-ball for the size of the plant, and don’t forget that aftercare is essential to the plant’s survival.  Early spring is generally best for transplanting because most people are in the gardening mind-set and more likely to keep up with essential watering. If a plant must be moved while actively growing, daily watering is essential and some dieback is likely to occur. Viburnums can be successfully transplanted in fall, however, and, in milder regions, through the winter months, as well.”

In regards to your Wisteria, you live close to the lake and it has been an incredibly late spring this year, so have some patience and hope that it will come back to life when the temperatures are consistently warmer. You can try scratching the stem lightly or breaking a branch to see if there is still some green flesh in the plant. Be very careful as you do so as, if the plant is still alive, you don’t want to harm it.  We have had a fair amount of winter kill this season given the incredibly hard winter, so fingers crossed that your Wisteria makes it through.