Hawaiian Snow Bush

Traditionally a tropical garden plant, Snow Bush is slowly becoming recognized as a house plant -- and for good reason. This Pacific Island native is an exquisite accent plant in any brightly lit room.

snow bush, breynia nivosa'Rosea Picta' is a popular variety, its foliage blushed with pink. Photo ©Khairil Junos

Get to Know Snow Bush as a Houseplant

Known botanically as Breynia nivosa, and sometimes Breynia disticha, this shrub is native to Tropical Asia, Pacific Islands and Tropical Australia. In the U.S., you'll often find it labeled Hawaiian Snow Bush. Whatever you call it, this colorful houseplant makes a delightful addition to your home.

Slender branches of this tropical shrub are densely covered with rounded green leaves, spectacularly splashed with white. The variety 'Rosea Picta' adds pink to the white and green foliage, giving the false impression of a flowering shrub.

Does Snow Bush bloom? Flowers do sometimes appear on mature plants, although they're not at all showy. These odd-looking, petalless flowers are small and green, hiding under the foliage.

How big will it get? Snow Bush will eventually reach about 3 ft (90 cm) tall indoors.

Keep it moist. Make this tropical beauty feel at home by boosting the humidity around it. Set the pot on a pebble tray or use a room humidifier to keep the relative humidity above 50%. Also keep the soil moist at all times.

Cut it back. Snow Bush grows quickly and will get quite large if not pruned. Cut the stems with sharp pruners to avoid tearing them. Make the cut just above a leaf node at a 45° angle. Prune to your heart's content -- you won't hurt this vigorous grower.

Repot in spring. This fast-growing shrub will need a new home every couple years. Move it up to a pot one size larger when it outgrows its current one. Use a pot with a drainage hole to prevent soggy potting medium.

It is surprising that we don't see Snowbush more often in nurseries. If you come across this beautiful tropical plant, buy it. You'll enjoy it first as a table accent -- and as it grows, an eye-catching floor plant.

Snow Bush Plant Care Tips

Light: Bright indirect light. Give your plant a quarter-turn every week or so to expose all sides to sunlight for even growth.

Water: Water thoroughly and often to maintain moist soil. Do not allow the soil to dry out at any time. Remember to always use tepid water when watering your houseplants.

Humidity: Give your plant the humid air it craves, like its native tropical home. Try to maintain a least 50% relative humidity around the plant. Stand the pot on a pebble tray or use a cool-mist room humidifier.

Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C. This tender tropical will tolerate a minimum of 60°F/16°C. Keep Snow Bush away from cold blasts from windows and doorways in the winter, which may cause it to drop its leaves.

Soil: Good-quality houseplant potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 to 3 weeks in spring and summer with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer diluted by half. 

Propagation: Take stem tip cuttings in summer and root them in moist sterile potting mix. Cover the whole thing with plastic to hold in the humidity until it takes root. For best results, use a seedling heat mat to maintain an even 70°F/21°C.

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