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How to Care for a Viburnum Plant!

Beautiful white viburnum flowers growing in the sun on a shrub

Genus Viburnum

You may not have heard of a viburnum shrub before, but chances are that you’ve seen one! These are some of the most popular landscape shrubs in temperate regions because of their reliability, beautiful flowers, and amazing fragrance.

The genus viburnum is home to between 150 and 175 species of flowering plants that grow to be either a large shrub or small tree. They can be either evergreen or deciduous and they vary in size, meaning there are tons of options for each type of green space!

Consider growing viburnum in your garden and it will bring you nothing but benefits. It has amazingly fragrant flowers that help feed the local wildlife, the shrub has an attractive shape and gives character to any green space, and they will do all of this with a tiny bit of care reciprocated by you. Read on to learn all there is to know about these wonderful flowering shrubs.

What do Viburnum Plants Look Like?

Gorgeous viburnum shrub with white flowers in ornamental garden

Growth Habit

The viburnum shrub is known for having a very attractive growth habit. They naturally grow in a rounded shape thanks to many erect branching stems. This is a rather large shrub but can be pruned to fit your needs.

There are many different viburnum species so their overall size will vary, but they will commonly grow to be anywhere from 3 to 20 feet tall with around a 3 to 12 foot spread.

Viburnums are perennial plant types, meaning that this flowering shrub will continuously produce flower blossoms each year as long as their ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

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Leaves

Viburnum shrubs will be either evergreen or deciduous depending on the warmth of the climate. Cold weather varieties will bear deciduous leaves, meaning that they will change color and fall away when the cold weather approaches. Warm weather varieties will bear evergreen leaves, meaning they will persist on the tree all year long.

The leaf shape and size will vary greatly according to the species. They can be either oppositely or evenly arranged along a stem, either simple or with toothed margins, they can be lobed or without lobes.

Some foliage will be deep glossy green, while other foliage will be a more medium green color. Foliage can also be either smooth, velvety with little hairs or rough with little hairs.

Flowers

Viburnum flowers are quite the sight. They are borne in a large corymb or flower cluster that create a lovely rounded shape. Flowers will usually bloom in the early spring or late spring, though that may vary according to species as some bloom in the late summer and last well into the fall.

Each flower is comprised of 5 flower petals that are quite soft (they kind of look like mini hydrangea flowers). This flowering shrub is known for producing very fragrant flowers, which attracts all sorts of beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden. Flower color is usually white or light pink.

Once a flower if fertilized it will produce a fruit in the form of a flattened drupe — it looks like a blue berry filled with seeds. Seeds are distributed my small animals that are attracted to the fruit produced by this flowering shrub.

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What are some Notable Viburnum Species?

Incredible puffy flowers of the snowball viburnum shrub in the sun

 

Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum Plicatum)

The doublefile viburnum is also known as the Japanese snowball bush and it can grow to be up to 10 feet tall. Viburnum plicatum is a deciduous shrub with deeply veined oval leaves. It produces round clusters of white flowers followed by black berries.

American Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum Trilobum)

The American cranberrybush viburnum is also known as the highbush cranberry or mapleleaf viburnum and it can grow to be over 13 feet in height.

V trilobum is known for having leaves similar to maple leaves (hence the common name mapleleaf viburnum) alongside round clusters of white flowers followed by red fruit.

Chicago Lustre Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum Dentatum)

The Chicago lustre arrowwood viburnum is a deciduous shrub that grows to be around 6-10 feet tall. V dentatum has a loose round habit with flat topped white flower clusters, blue berries, and lovely foliage that turns color in the fall.

Blackhaw (Viburnum Prunifolium)

The blackhaw viburnum is a sturdy rounded deciduous shrub that grows to be around 12-15 feet tall. Viburnum prunifolium produces clusters of white flowers followed by yellow berries, accompanied by dark green leaves that turn purple in the fall.

Gorgeous pink viburnum growing in clusters in garden

Laurustunius Viburnum (Viburnum Tinus)

Viburnum tinus is an evergreen shrub with leaves that look similar to the bay laurel shrub and it grows to be 6-12 feet tall. It produces light pink flowers with a lovely fragrance that last all winter in warm areas and leaves with lovely fall color.

European Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum Opulus)

The European cranberrybush viburnum is also known as the snowball bush and it grows to be 8-15 feet (it’s also known for being invasive in certain zones). Viburnum opulus produces ball of white flowers followed by scarlet red fruit.

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Leatherleaf Viburnum (Viburnum Rhytidophyllum)

The leatherleaf viburnum can grow to be either evergreen or deciduous depending the warmth of the climate, and will gain heights between 6-10 feet. Viburnum rhytidophyllum produces mid green leaves and cream flowers.

Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum Lantana)

The wayfaring tree is a very popular landscape shrub because of its reliability and low maintenance. V lantana can grow to be 10-15 feet tall and bears thick dark green leaves and white flowers.

Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum Carlesii)

The Korean spice viburnum (also known as sweet viburnum) is known for being one of the most fragrant of the viburnum types, and it is one of the smallest only growing to be 3-6 feet. Viburnum carlesii bears pink flowers with red berries and leaves that gardeners love for their fall color.

Where is Viburnum a Native Plant?

Gorgeous scene with viburnum tree with berries on a foggy day

Viburnum plants are quite remarkable in the way of being able to exist in so many different regions of the world. They are native throughout all of the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere and some species exist in South America and southeast Asia as well.

Viburnum plants can happily exist outdoors all year long in USDA growing zones 2 through 9, meaning that they can tolerate winter temperatures as well as intense summer heat. North America is an ideal region for their growing requirements.

If you live outside of these zones, you can also grow viburnum in a very large container and moved indoors outside of its active growing season, as long as the variety is small enough to fit in a home.

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What are the Ideal Growing Conditions for Viburnum Plants?

The next step is to learn what it takes to keep a viburnum plant happy. These are wonderfully low maintenance plants that are quite resilient once they are established. Caring for viburnum can easily be incorporated into your regular gardening routine if you follow these simple tips:

Lovely ornamental garden with white flower blooming viburnum

Soil Type

Though they are able to tolerate all sorts of different soil types, viburnum plants seem to perform their best when they are able to grow in soil that is moist, fertile, well draining, and either neutral or acidic.

In order to achieve this type of soil all you have to do is incorporate some compost into the soil! This will not only increase the nutrient level of the soil, but it will increase drainage and the correct acidity level as well.

Water Level

Viburnum plants will be happiest if they receive consistent moisture. Natural precipitation will usually suffice in regions that experience a lot of annual rain, but if there is an extended period of drought they should receive supplemental watering.

Ideally they will receive a good dosing of water about every 7 days. They will need more water in super hot summer heat, and less water once the weather gets colder.

Sun Exposure

Viburnum plants aren’t too picky when it comes to the amount of sun exposure that they receive, and the amount that they require will vary according to the species and the growing region.

Many types prefer to exist in full sun exposure, which is around 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day, whereas others are more tolerant to partial shade conditions.

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Close up image of bright red viburnum berries growing amongst leaves

Temperature

Another reason why gardeners love viburnum plants is because of their tolerance to both hot temperatures and cold temperatures. They can handle frost and winter freezing and can handle super hot summers (as long as they receive some shade).

Fertilizer

It isn’t necessary to give fertilizer to your viburnum plant because they are used to living in moderate or poor soils in the wild. You can provide them with a slow release fertilizer in the early spring, but otherwise incorporating compost will suffice.

Pruning

One of the more time consuming parts of viburnum maintenance will be pruning your plant. They can start to be quite leggy and you should trim away the get-away stems, which can then be used for propagation (which we’ll go over in the next section).

How do you Propagate a Viburnum Plant?

Pretty pink cluster of blooming viburnum flowers

The final step to learning about viburnum plants is how to propagate a specimen of your very own. Propagation through seed is very time consuming, so gardeners recommend either using cuttings or transplanting an existing plant.

However, an already well established plant won’t transplant very well, so be very gentle with the root ball and don’t shake away too much soil from the root ball for risk of shocking them.

1. The best time of year to take cuttings is in the spring for softwood cuttings, as flowers bloom on the hardwood. Take a piece that is 4-6 inches long and remove the bottom leaves from the cutting.

2. Dip the cuttings in some rooting hormone and plant them into small pots that are filled with a combination of peat and perlite. Water well and maintain soil moisture as they’re getting established.

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3. Cover the pots with a clear plastic bag and place them in an area that receives indirect but bright sunlight. The cuttings should start to take roots in about 4 weeks.

4. Gently tug at the cutting. If there is resistance that means the cuttings have taken root and they’re ready to transplant.

5. Pick a spot on your property that receives full sun or partial shade, in soil that has been amended with compost. Also pick a spot that is sheltered from heavy winds. Plant viburnum after the last threat of frost has passed.

6. Dig holes that have a good amount of space between them as viburnum plants will eventually spread to be quite wide. Maintain soil moisture as they’re getting established.

And there you have it! Pretty soon you’ll have clusters of sweet smelling flowers wafting through the garden, attracting all sorts of bees, moths, and butterflies to the area.

Gorgeous creamy white clusters of viburnum flowers blooming in the summer

FAQs

Are viburnum plants deer resistant?

The majority of viburnum varieties are known for being resistant to grazing from larger pests like deer, squirrels, and rabbits, but others will experience some nibbling.

How are viburnum plants used?

Viburnum plants are known as being one of the most popular landscaping plants in North America. Gardeners love them for their beautiful flowers and sometimes evergreen leaves, their lovely growth habit and their ease of care.

Can viburnum plants survive winter temperatures?

Another reason why gardeners love viburnum plants is because of their tolerance to both hot temperatures and cold temperatures. They can handle frost and winter freezing and can handle super hot summers (as long as they receive some shade).

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Are viburnum plants evergreen or deciduous?

Viburnum shrubs will be either evergreen or deciduous depending on the warmth of the climate. Cold weather varieties will bear deciduous leaves, meaning that they will change color and fall away when the cold weather approaches. Warm weather varieties will bear evergreen leaves, meaning they will persist on the tree all year long.

Can a viburnum plant be grown indoors?

Because of their size, viburnum plants cannot be grown indoors in most homes. There is the Korean spice viburnum that only grows to be between 3 and 6 feet in height which will fit in some indoor spaces.

Can a viburnum plant be grown in a container?

The smaller varieties of viburnum should be able to be grown in a container as long as they are first propagated in a container, so that their roots become accustomed to being in a confined space.

Are viburnum plants perennials?

The viburnum shrub is a perennial plant type, meaning that it will continue to produce flower blossoms each year as long as its ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

Is viburnum an invasive species?

There are certain viburnum species that are known as being an invasive species, meaning that they can quickly overtake an area in which they are not a native plant. This type of population has the potential to cause damage to the local wildlife ecology. Just make sure to do some research before incorporating one onto your property.

What USDA growing zone can viburnum plants grow in?

Viburnum shrubs can grow happily outdoors all year round in USDA growing zones 2 through 9.

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How often should a viburnum plant be watered?

Viburnum plants will be happiest if they receive consistent moisture. Natural precipitation will usually suffice in regions that experience a lot of annual rain, but if there is an extended period of drought they should receive supplemental watering.

Ideally they will receive a good dosing of water about every 7 days. They will need more water in super hot summer heat, and less water once the weather gets colder.

Should a viburnum plant be pruned?

One of the more time consuming parts of viburnum maintenance will be pruning your plant. They can start to be quite leggy and you should trim away the get-away stems, which can then be used for propagation.

Do viburnum plants prefer full sun or partial shade?

Viburnum plants aren’t too picky when it comes to the amount of sun exposure that they receive, and the amount that they require will vary according to the species and the growing region.

Many types prefer to exist in full sun exposure, which is around 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day, whereas others are more tolerant to partial shade conditions.

Where can I buy viburnum plant seeds?

A great online resource for finding seeds and bulbs is NETPS plant finder. Here you can find all types of different plant species and all of the information you could need to keep one happy!

What is the ideal soil type for a viburnum plant?

Though they are able to tolerate all sorts of different soil types, viburnum plants seem to perform their best when they are able to grow in soil that is moist, fertile, well draining, and either neutral or acidic.

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In order to achieve this type of soil all you have to do is incorporate some compost into the soil! This will not only increase the nutrient level of the soil, but it will increase drainage and the correct acidity level as well.

What is the easiest way to propagate a viburnum plant?

The easiest way to propagate a viburnum plant is through stem cuttings. This is because sowing seed is very time consuming and the plant will not produce flowers for several years.

How tall do viburnum plants get?

The viburnum shrub is known for having a very attractive growth habit. They naturally grow in a rounded shape thanks to many erect branching stems. This is a rather large shrub but can be pruned to fit your needs.

There are many different viburnum species so their overall size will vary, but they will commonly grow to be anywhere from 3 to 20 feet tall with around a 3 to 12 foot spread.

Viburnums are perennial plant types, meaning that this flowering shrub will continuously produce flower blossoms each year as long as their ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

What time of year do viburnum flowers bloom?

Viburnum flowers are quite the sight. They are borne in a large corymb or flower cluster that create a lovely rounded shape. Flowers will usually bloom in the early spring or late spring, though that may vary according to species as some bloom in the late summer and last well into the fall.

Each flower is comprised of 5 flower petals that are quite soft (they kind of look like mini hydrangea flowers). This flowering shrub is known for producing very fragrant flowers, which attracts all sorts of beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden. Flower color is usually white or light pink.

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