Snowbush – Breynia nivosa – is a rounded tropical shrub that is 5 to 8 feet tall and 4 to 7 feet wide. It has highly colored foliage that makes it a favorite with gardeners. The stems are bright red, while the papery, variegated leaves are rose, white and green. Since the leaves look like flowers, the plant is commonly called leaf flower.
Snowbush can be used as a hedge or as a shrub border and can also be grown indoors. If it is not pruned, it takes the shape of a vase. A good thing about Snowbush is that its branches are flexible and can be draped over small walls. It has green petal-less flowers that are put into shade by the bright the leaves. It produces red berries that are three-quarters of an inch wide.
The plant has the ability to change color. In a bright sunny location, the color of the leaves changes from green, to maroon, to pink and finally to pure white. The leaves turn green with age or when the plant is placed in the shade. It will maintain color all the year round if it is grown in a bright, sunny area. If the temperature dips below 60 degrees F, the leaves may turn brown. You can wait till spring to cut the damaged foliage. This will protect the plant from freezing temperature.
The dwarf version grows into a rounded shape that needs occasional trimmings. Heavier pruning is required in the spring. Being a tropical plant it does well in warm weather, with plenty of water and full sunlight. It makes a great indoor plant and can be used for bonsai.
Snowbush can grow on a wide range of soils, barring salty soils, but it requires a full sun position for dense growth. The plant responds well to light fertilizer, and is usually propagated by cuttings and sucker divisions. It is not susceptible to any major diseases, though caterpillars and mites can be troublesome.