Fragrant Fountain Japanese SnowbellStyrax japonicus ‘Fragrant Fountain’ (PP# 19,664)
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Styrax japonicus ‘Fragrant Fountain’ (PP# 19,664)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell is an amazing weeping tree that develops an upright central stem with cascading side branches. The ultimate size depends on how high you support it, or it can be allowed to spill down a slope, spill over a retaining wall, or be tied onto a fence, trellis or the wall of a building. The green leaves turn golden yellow in fall. In early summer the branches are covered in a multitude of hanging white bell-shaped flowers that are intensely fragrant. These are followed by small olive-like fruits that are ultimately taken by songbirds in late fall.
Full sun or some partial shade are perfect for the Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell, which grows best in moist, well-drained soil that is neutral to acidic, although this tree is not as particular as most ‘acid-loving’ shrubs are. It doesn’t have pests or disease and it’s fast-growing and easy to grow. It can be staked or tied up as you wish – the final size and form is in your hands.
Picture a tall mound of cascading foliage, like a waterfall frozen in time. Picture it smothered in floods of white bells. Imagine the sweet scent it spreads into the air. Got it? Then you have the perfect picture of the Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell. This unique cascading small tree is certainly one of the most beautiful and exotic weeping plants we have ever seen – and we have seen them all. It is incredibly versatile too, offering all sorts of possibilities, from spilling down banks to espalier on a wall, or growing as an exciting specimen in a planter. This plant is a weeping form of the Japanese snowbell, a small tree that is grown in all the best gardens, but strangely unknown to many gardeners. That is all changing as new forms are being developed, and the snowbell is set to become an exciting garden hit. Get ahead of the game with a fast-growing plant that quite literally is a fragrant fountain of beauty, flowering in early summer with a snowy bounty of fragrance, and adding in attractive olive-like fruits and bold yellow fall foliage. There is a place in every garden for a unique plant like this – add it to yours.
The Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell is a small deciduous tree that is fast-growing, adding 12 inches or more of growth each year – much faster than any other weeping form of this tree. It has no natural leading stem, so it should be staked to develop a central trunk. Supported it can reach 9 feet tall within 8 years, and then potentially grows as tall as you are able to support it. The side branches then cascade downwards, forming a broad mound of stems to the ground, which can be as broad as the tree is tall. The bark is smooth and soft gray, although mostly hidden by the abundance of the weeping branches. The leaves are oval with a finely-serrated edge, and they are 2 to 3½ inches long. They have a smooth surface and are mid-green, turning clear golden-yellow in fall.
Flowering takes place from May to July, depending on your location, and the flowers are carried in clusters of 3 of 5, abundant all along the branches. Each flower is on a long hanging stem, and flares out into an open bell with 5 petals, in all about ¾ of an inch across. The petals are a clear, soft white, and this variety has exceptional fragrance, releasing a sweet perfume that drifts across the garden. Flowers are followed by hanging olive-like fruits that turn greenish-brown. They are not edible, and last into fall before songbirds come and take them.
The Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell is a wonderful accent tree that you can control to take whatever form you want. Trained with a central stem on a strong, durable stake it will form a splendid specimen, with weeping side branches cascading to the ground. Left un-staked it could be allowed to cascade down a steep slope or over the top of a garden wall. It can be tied up or woven into fences or trellis, grown on an arbor, or turned into an espalier against a wall, where it could one day cover two stories. It can also be grown in a large tub or barrel, and makes a great plant on a terrace, or by a door.
The Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell is hardy in zone 5, and will grow into zone 8 and in zone 9 where the summers are not too hot and humid. Trees growing in pots shouldn’t only be left outdoors all winter in zones 7, 8 and 9.
This tree will grow in full sun or with a little partial shade. It shouldn’t be too shady, and needs at least half-a-day of full sun. In warmer zones that would be best in the mornings, especially if the soil is drier. The best soil is neutral to acidic, moist and well-drained, although this tree is not as particular for acid soil as true ‘acid-loving’ plants are. Once well-established it has good resistance to ordinary summer dryness.
The Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell is easy to grow, with no noticeable pests or diseases. For a tall, weeping tree, place a tall stake or a durable material close beside the main stem when planting. Tie up one stem as it grows, leaving the others to cascade down and arch over as they choose. The final height of this tree depends entirely on how tall you choose to stake it, or how high the fence or wall is that you are growing it against.
The Japanese snowbell, Styrax japonicus, is a tree native to China and Korea, as well as to Japan. The first recorded trees in America were brought to the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University from Japan by Dr. George Rogers Hall in 1875. He had been a doctor in Shanghai before becoming an importer of oriental items. He spent much of his life travelling between East and West, and his trip to Japan in 1875 was his last.
The variety called ‘Fragrant Fountain’ was found by Crispin Silva, who owns Crispin’s Creations Nursery in Molalla, Oregon. He specializes in unique plants, and in 1994 he collected seeds from a pink-flowered snowbell tree called ‘Rosea’. It seems some of the flowers were pollinated by a nearby weeping variety called ‘Carillon’, because among the seedlings was a tree with weeping branches and white flowers. His new tree was much faster-growing and more vigorous than ‘Carillon’, with flowers of exceptional fragrance. Crispin worked with PlantHaven International to patent his plant, and he received that patent in 2009.
It is hard to understand why the Japanese snowbell is so rare in gardens, because it has everything going for it. If you don’t have much room – or even if you do – this wonderful weeping variety, a real ‘Fragrant Fountain’ for any garden – is for you. You will love it, but order now, because discerning gardeners understand the value of this tree, and our very limited stock won’t last long.