Viburnums are a gardener’s favorite; they’re one the most useful and versatile shrubs available. With over 120 varieties there’s one for any garden project. Some viburnums, such as the arrowwood or maple-leaf, are wonderful as woodland garden shrubs. Others have a more formal feel such as the Korean spice or judii varieties and are suitable for foundation plantings, shrub borders and as specimen plants.
Viburnums add year round interest to the garden. White and cream colored flowers bloom in the spring. Some viburnums, such as the Korean spice, are valued for their intense fragrance. Others, however, are noted for their unpleasant scent. Vibrunums are a full growing shrub with lush foliage through the summer. In the fall, many varieties, such as the arrowwood and European cranberry bush, provide the landscape with brilliant shades of orange and red. Colorful red, purple, or blue berries brighten the garden and contrast against the snow in winter. The berries also provide food for birds. They’re also adaptable to many site conditions.
Soils for Viburnum
Viburnums prefer rich, moist, organic somewhat acidic soils. Prepare for planting as you would any shrub. Dig a hole approximately twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Place the viburnum in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball matches the existing grade of the garden. Never install any plant below grade, its often detrimental to the health of the plant. Backfill about half way and water to remove air pockets. Finish filling the hole, water again and mulch. Planting in the spring or fall is best as the hot summer weather can stress viburnums.
As a fast grower, some viburnums can reach 30′. Others grow no taller than 2′. Needing no more than occasional pruning to remove dead branches, viburnums are a very low maintenance shrub.
Maple-leaf viburnums grow to 6′ and have foliage resembling that of the maple tree. Their cream colored flowers bloom in late spring and their lush summer foliage is followed by dark purple berries. This species can tolerate shade and dry soils. Maple-leaf viburnums are suitable for woodland or shade gardens.
Burkwood viburnum is a deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub that can grow to 12’ tall and 8’ wide. Its white flowers are fragrant and its berries are dark blue. The burkwood’s great for the shrub border.
Korean spice viburnum’s long lasting, very fragrant flowers bloom in spring. This species grows to up to 8′ and is suitable for foundation plantings and shrub borders.
Judii viburnum is similar to the Korean spice.
Arrowwood viburnum is a native shrub here in New England and is a great woodland and shade garden plant. It has cream colored flowers in the spring resembling those of the lacecap hydrangea. Its dark green foliage turns orange in the fall when it forms dark blue berries.
European cranberry bush is a tall deciduous shrub which can reach 15’. Its dark green maple-like foliage turns red in the fall. White flowers bloom in the spring.
American cranberry bush resembles the European cranberry bush.