Snow Day Surprise - Pearlbush Reinvented

I was just walking in our test garden and was lucky enough see Snow Day Surprise Exochorda (Pearlbush) in bloom. Surprisingly, Pearlbush is not a well-known shrub. It is hardy, heat tolerant and easy to grow. It has showy, white, pearl-like buds in the spring that give it its name. An older cultivar, Exochorda x macrantha "The Bride" caused issues for many growers due to propagation difficulties and the tendency for young plants flop- especially in a container at retail.The plant is quite elegant in the garden once mature, but as a young plant on the nursery it is difficult to train into a salable plant. Enter Herman Geers, the plant Dutch breeder that developed Wine & Roses Weigela.

Herman, like other growers, was tired of trying to grow "The Bride", so he set out to develop a better Pearl Bush. Due to the smaller size of European gardens, he set out to create a smaller, more compact plant that could look good at a young age and was easy to propagate. In 1994 Herman crossed "The Bride" with Exochorda racemosa, an upright species with large flowers. For the next 10 years he evaluated his seedlings culling out all but the best-looking plants. He conducted propagation trials on his best plants and narrowed the field down to 5 with the best rooting percentages. From breeding to evaluation, the entire process took sixteen years, and out of the five best plants, he ultimately selected Snow Day Surprise. 

Snow Day Surprise starts flowering in early April or May depending upon where you live. At first the plant is covered with hundreds of pure white pearls - the buds - which last for about 3-4 weeks. The pearls then open up into large, pure white flowers which can last another 2-4 weeks. It is hardy from zone 4 to 8. The habit is more upright than "The Bride", but matures into a compact mounded plant around 3-4 feet tall and around 4 feet wide. Like Quince, (Chaenomeles), it makes a nice splash in the spring garden.

We started selling liners (young plants) this spring, so you can expect to see plants hit the retail market over the next year or so.

--- Side Note ---

People have been emailing me that their Plant Hunter emails have looked a bit funky as of late, with the text running over the pictures. I had switched to a new version of Blogger called "Blogger in Draft," as it was suppose to work better with videos. I have since changed back to the old Blogger - so I trust that this post arrives in good order. I apologize for any previous posts that were of poor quality and I hope that I have taken care of the issue. If not, please let me  know. As always - I appreciate your comments, and your continued interest in reading The Plant Hunter.


  1. Sandi4:00 PM

    I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, Zone 5, and I have a Pearlbush, "The Bride" as one of my shrubs in my back property. I really enjoy it and it is quite striking with its white pearls and blossoms!!

  2. Beautiful spring plant. It it fragrant? And what does it do in the fall/ winter? Any color turn of leaves?

  3. After much research, I identified a mysterious shrub in a friend's yard as Exochorda. My, it was a beauty in bloom! Good to hear that there's a great new version coming to the market.


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