Viburnums in the Landscape
This is my site Written by Geoff on August 1, 2008 – 10:18 am

Without a doubt our overall favorite shrub is the viburnum. This versatile genus of shrubs can be used anywhere in the garden. We know this is a very bold statement to make but it is true! Besides having attractive foliage and growth habits, they offer bright colorful very fragrant flowers. Many boast of colorful fruits and stunning fall foliage. In addition, the fruits are appealing to birds and other wildlife. Whenever we need a shrub for a problem area we turn to the viburnum.

The viburnums are one of the most versatile group of shrubs for use by the urban gardener, particularly for those with little time to spare. One of the best features of the viburnums, in fact, is that they require little, if any maintenance. Those that are native to North America are especially adaptable and forgiving if neglected. Most viburnums will adapt to many soil and light conditions. They are also very drought tolerant and will grow in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 9.

Among their best characteristics are their varying growth habits, ranging in size from 2 to 30 feet. Most viburnums also have a full spreading habit, excellent for filling in bare spots. Viburnums can be used in many landscape situations. The smaller forms are excellent for planting close to buildings, and the larger forms provide good specimen and screen planting. Some viburnums are even evergreen or semi-evergreen in colder climates offering four season appeal.

Viburnum flowers range from creamy white to pink. The buds, often shaped like small nuts, are attractive as well. The flowers are borne in clusters, ranging from a rounded snowball shape to a flat lace form. The large, white snowball or semi-snowball clusters of florets are especially attractive when used as cut flowers. Most viburnums have very fragrant flowers which are especially suited for use along walks, and patios where their smell can be richly appreciated.

Most viburnums have very attractive Fall color from purplish red to brilliant autumn bronze. Their fruit is very showy, from mid-night blue to colorful scarlet red. Fruit will often persist through the Winter months, a god send for early migrating birds.

In addition to the aesthetic features, viburnums, are resistant to serious pests. Even deer seem to leave this alone. They require little pruning, although we do occasionally remove any dead wood. They will grow in either sun or shade, however, flowering and fruiting will be more profuse in a sunny situation. Use them in the background, foreground, or mix through the garden at will. We have never seen a bad looking viburnum. This shrub brings out the best in any location.

Tips: Viburnums

While it is very hard for us to select our favorite viburnum the following varieties have preformed well in our gardens:

  1. Viburnum plicatum tomentosum ‘Shasta’ is an elegant improved version of the standard Doublefile Viburnums, smaller and more floriferous. A nice deciduous shrub that has deep green leaves that displays a excellent fall color. Large white flowers followed by bright red berries. Great mid sized plant for groupings or background plantings.
  2. Viburnum cassinoides ‘Chesapeake’ was introduced in 1981 by Dr. Egolf and the US National Arboretum. The flowers are pink in bud, open white, with ever so slight fragrance. This shrub grows six feet high and eight feet wide. Leaves are semi-evergreen, lustrous dark green and wavy, with flat leaves.
  3. Viburnum trilobum ‘Onondaga’ is found in low moist places along forest edges throughout the northeastern United States. This versatile plant prefers moist, well drained soils but does fine in poorly drained and drier soils. This round topped, dense shrub, 6 to 12 feet high has clusters of lacy white flowers in the Spring.
  4. Viburnum dilatatum ‘Michael Dodge’ an exciting new find from Winterthur Gardens with large yellow berries enhanced by the red fall color of the foliage are a show-stopper. It has large leaves, dense growing habit to 5 to 6 inch and white flowers in late spring.
  5. Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’ A USDA introduction carefully selected for its 6 to 8 feet compact growth habit, thick lustrous deep green foliage and the persistent fall display of its orange-red berries that retain their showy color for more than a month.
  6. Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’ is another select specimen shrub introduced by Winterthur Gardens in Delaware. This outstanding Viburnum offers handsome, glossy-green foliage that transforms to deep reddish-purple hues in fall. Cymes of creamy-white flowers in late spring yield clusters of green. Maple-shaped leaves turn purplish red in fall.
  7. Viburnum prunifolium ‘Blachaw’ is easily grown in average, dry to medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates drought. Blackhaw is usually grown as a large, upright, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub with an irregular crown, but it also may be grown as a small, single trunk tree. Flowers give way in autumn to blue-black, berry-like drupes which often persist into winter and are quite attractive to birds and wildlife.

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Modified: March 7, 2009 at 10:19 am GMT-0800

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