How to Care for a Japanese Snowbell Tree


Snowbell trees (Styrax japonicus) are small trees that bring interest into the landscape during both warm months as well as winter. Snowbell trees display fragrant, white, clustered flowers that hang from the tree like bells in May and June as well as bark that exhibits an orange and brown lacelike texture. Fortunately for the home gardener, these trees are free of severe pest issues for the most part. However, always observe your trees regularly to nip an occasional problem in the bud.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Insecticide
  • Gardening gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Grow Japanese snowbell trees in areas of your home landscape that provide full sun to partial shade for best development and flowering.

  • Maintain moist, well-drained soil high in organic content, but avoid waterlogged conditions that these trees do not tolerate. Contact your county extension agent to inquire about and follow through with a soil test. Make any recommended amendments and aim for the acidic soil pH trees prefer.

  • Prune your Japanese snowbell tree lightly, as severe pruning is not necessary. Prune away stems from the center of the tree that cause crowding as a means of creating an open center.

  • Examine your snowbell tree for ambrosia beetles, one pest that can damage the tree even though Japanese snowbells are typically considered trouble free. Look for tiny near-black beetles that leave fibers measuring approximately 1 1/2 inches in length in their wake. The strands are an accumulation of material from trunks within which the beetles tunnel. Search for holes and wilting foliage, as well.

  • Control ambrosia beetles on Japanese snowbell trees to avoid decline to already stressed trees or to prevent the creation of wounds in healthy trees as wounds provide ideal openings for disease. Prune away and destroy affected plant parts. Remove and destroy the entire tree if the infestation is severe. Apply a preventive insecticide before an infestation occurs, though do not attempt to use chemical treatment for existing infestations. Spray snowbell trees with an insecticide with the active ingredient permethrin.

Tips & Warnings

  • Grow Japanese snowbell trees in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6a to 8a for best growth.
  • Select different cultivars for flower color and form variety. Choose Pink Chimes for pink flowers or Carillon for a weeping habit.
  • Prevent injury by wearing gardening gloves when handling sharp tools like pruning shears and protective eyewear when handling chemicals like insecticides.

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