Are you a gardener who's always looking for a new or unusual plant? The kind of plant that could make you the envy of your garden club or neighborhood? Then check out the Alabama Snow Wreath (Neviusia alabamensis). It's a rare beauty that's easy to grow and readily available from specialty nurseries and native plant societies. This southeastern shrub is hardy to zone 4, making the transition from woodland into cultivation with ease. It can take its place in the collector's garden, as a single specimen in a woodland garden, or as a backdrop in a mixed shrub border.
Alabama Snow Wreath grows into a graceful, arching hedge that is so lovely when in flower it rivals the beauty of an ornamental Spirea, one of its cousins in the rose family. Although its flowers lack petals, Alabama Snow Wreath is showy in early spring thanks to a multitude of softly fragrant, feathery white stamens (male reproductive structures) that cover its arching stems. This striking floral display, lasting over two weeks, makes snow wreath a highly desirable ornamental shrub for the home landscape.
Alabama Snow Wreath forms colonies from 3 to 6 feet in height and up to 6 feet wide. In addition to a lovely spring display, its zigzag stems and ridged, straw-colored bark provide winter interest to the southern landscape.
Plant Alabama Snow Wreath in moist, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Place it where it will receive morning light and protection from the hot afternoon sun. Alabama Snow Wreath is a moderate to slow-growing shrub that rarely needs pruning. If pruning does become necessary, it should be done immediately after the plant flowers.
In the wild, Alabama snow wreath grows among limestone boulders in moist, hardwood forests. It is found in only seventeen locations in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas. This interesting, rare plant is easily propagated by cuttings and divisions. A shovel taken to the outer edges of a colony is a means of controlling its size as well as passing the plant along.
In spite of being rare, Alabama Snow Wreath is so easy to grow and propagate that it is often available at local wildflower sales and can be found at specialty nurseries and online native plant nurseries. The beauty of the native Snow Wreath should be celebrated by giving it a spot in the home landscape, but avoid the temptation to dig these rare plants from the wild.