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Symphoricarpos (albus)

Mark E. Majerus
USDA NRCS - Bridger Plant Materials Center
99 South River Road, Rte. 2, Box 1189
Bridger, Montana 59014-9718
(406) 662-3579
(406) 662-3428 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Caprifoliaceae
Family Common Name: Honeysuckle
Scientific Name: Symphoricarpos albus (L.) Blake
Common Name: Common snowberry
Species Code: SYMALB
Ecotype: Numerous Glacier National Park seed sources as well as western Montana and Wyoming ecotypes.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: vegetative
ProductType: Container (plug)
Time To Grow: 0
Propagule Collection: Take 6- to 8-inch long dormant hardwood stem cuttings from December through February. The base of the cutting should be at least pencil diameter in size. Store cuttings in ziplock back lightly moistened with water and store in a cooler or refrigerator slightly above freezing. Cuttings store well for several weeks under proper conditions. It is reported that softwood and greenwood cuttings propagate as well, but the author has no experience.
Propagule Processing: See below.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Trim all cuttings to a 5- to 6-inch length. Remove all buds, leaves, and branches from the basal 2 to 3 in. of each cutting. Remove all flowers and fruit, when present, as well. Store the cuttings in moistened paper towels during processing. Recut the base of each stem cutting at an angle with a sharp knife and wound the basal end of the stem with a shallow 1- to 1.5-inch wound just below the cambium layer. Dip the entire cutting in a broad spectrum fungicide and allow to dry. Lightly spray the wound with water from a mist bottle, shake off excess water, and then insert the base into 1,000 to 3,000 ppm IBA talc rooting compound. Remove excess hormone by lightly tapping the end of the cutting on the side of a hard surface.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Prepare a well drained sterile media of 100% sand, 50:50 sand:perlite, 50:50 sand:vermiculite, or 50:50 perlite:vermiculite. Use bottom heat (70 to 80øF) for the root initiation stage (first 4 to 6 weeks), overhead intermittent mist controlled by a Mist-o-maticT, 16-hour photoperiods, in a greenhouse maintained at 75 to 80øF days and 60 to 65øF nights.
Establishment Phase: Snowberry propagates easily from dormant hardwood cuttings taken in December - February. Rooting success often exceeds 80 percent.
Active Growth Phase: Stem cuttings are usually well rooted in 16 weeks and are then transplanted into 40-cubic-inch to 1-gal pots (depending on the size of the rooted cutting) in a commercial peat-lite mix. The plants are grown in the greenhouse for an additional 2-months prior to moving to a shade house for hardening off.
Hardening Phase: Move containerized material (at least 2 months old) started in the greenhouse that winter to an outdoor hoophouse in late spring/early summer (i.e. "finish" the plants in the hoophouse). The hoophouse is ventilated but not cooled, and the containers are usually exposed to full sunlight for 2 to 4 weeks early in the season. The hoophouse is then covered with a 50% shade cloth until temperatures cool in the fall. Another option is to finish container plants and rooted cuttings in the greenhouse and then move them to the shadehouse in late summer, allowing 30 to 60 days of hardening prior to winter. The shade is usually removed in late summer/early fall and replaced with clear plastic. The plants harden-off gradually in the hoophouse prior to winter. Bridger is characterized by a high number of solar days that keeps the environment inside the hoophouse relatively mild until winter. In the case of premature and severely cold weather, a small propane heater is used at keep temperatures above freezing.
Length of Hardening Phase: As a standard practice, we allow a minimum of 30days of hardening off prior to killing frost, 60 days is preferred.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Since nearly all containerized stock is shipped dormant from Bridger in the spring, we overwinter containers in a hoophouse. The hoophouse is ventilated when temperatures reach 35 to 40øF and heated to maintain a temperature of 5 to 10øF. Containers as small as 10 cubic inch overwinter well this way. The containers are placed on 2 inches of pea gravel and arranged in a side-by-side pattern. The stock is watered over the fall and winter as needed. If temperatures in the spring are too warm to assure dormancy, plant material that is designated for dormant spring planting is moved to a walk-in cooler (34 to 37øF, 80+% relative humidity) until shipping. Plants may be shipped with or without containers in heavy waxed boxes by priority ground mail (avoid weekend holdover at post offices).
Other Comments: Vegetative propagation results in a larger plant in a given time frame than when grown from seeds.


Scianna, Joe. 2003. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Symphoricarpos albus (L.) Blake plants USDA NRCS - Bridger Plant Materials Center Bridger, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/05/13). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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