VIBURNUMS FOR VARIETY
By Dr. Leonard Perry
Extension Nursery and Greenhouse Specialist
University of Vermont
As you begin thinking about spring landscaping,
consider viburnums to add variety to your garden. These
plants range in size from two- to three-foot shrubs
to 30-foot trees and have excellent foliage, attractive
and often fragrant flowers, showy fruit, and an interesting
While relatively few of our native viburnums
have found their way into the commercial landscape trade,
many work well in naturalistic settings and provide
excellent cover and food for birds. Hybrids, cultivars,
and native viburnums are quite hardy in most areas of
Viburnums are resistant to serious insect
infestation and adapt well to a variety of soil and
environmental conditions. They are a good choice for
busy gardeners because they require little pruning.
American Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum)
is perhaps best known, as it is native, hardy, and has
edible red fruits in fall, which are great for making
jellies (and of course, for birds, too). It grows upright,
about eight to10 feet high. There are several cultivars
of this to consider as well, such as 'Bailey Compact',
'Compactum', and 'Alfredo,' which grows only five to
six feet tall.
Compact Koreanspice Viburnum (V. carlesii
'Compactum') and Compact European Cranberrybush (V.
opulus 'Compactum') are ideal for spaces with only three
or four feet of planting area.
In the spring Koreanspice is covered with
pink fragrant flower clusters the size of tennis balls.
The Compact Cranberrybush produces flowers that are
white, slightly fragrant, and grow in flat-topped clusters.
Koreanspice fruit is not especially showy, but the bright
red, fleshy fruit on the Cranberrybush in fall is very
attractive. It grows in dense clusters several inches
The standard form of Koreanspice Viburnum
is a good intermediate landscape plant as it only grows
five to six feet high with an equal spread. Its dull
green foliage turns bright scarlet in the fall.
Burkwood Viburnum (V. burkwoodii) is similar
to Koreanspice in form, flower, and fragrance although
the burkwood has partially evergreen leaves. Koreanspice
is one of its parents.
Onandago Viburnum (V. sargentii 'Onandaga')
is quite hardy and a good selection for its purplish
leaves in spring, which turn dark green in the summer.
Its clusters of white flowers contrast nicely with the
leaves. It can reach heights of eight to 12 feet and
grows in an upright oval shape. As it is quite vigorous,
don't overfertilize it.
These are only a few of the many viburnums
suitable for landscapes. Others are described in Landscape
Plants for Vermont, a University of Vermont (UVM) Extension
publication. To order a copy, send $17 (includes shipping)
to the Vermont Master Gardener Program, UVM Extension
Office, 655-A Spear St., Burlington, Vt. 05404-0107.
Make checks payable to "Vermont Master Gardener