“A garden without a viburnum is akin to a life without music and art” – Michael Dirr.
I have to agree with Professor Dirr. As one of the most versatile of shrubs, and well suited for Baltimore area gardens you are really missing out if viburnums are not part of your garden. Varieties are many and available in different sizes, leaf color, branching patterns, fall color and flower. Mostly trouble free plants with few disease and insect problems, they are also adaptable to different soil types, are low maintenance and rarely if ever need special care. Many are deer resistant. They are lovely plants in flower, in fall color and in winter habit.
This article will briefly examine just a few of these must include plants. They should be available at your local garden center or nursery.
Viburnum carlesii/Koreanspice Viburnum
One of the more popular of the viburnums, this is named for the wonderful fragrance from the pinkish/white flowers in May. The leaves are a handsome dark green and turn a variety of colors in the fall. It is useful as a bank cover and as a specimen shrub and should be grown where the fragrance can be appreciated. The plant grows 6 to 8 feet tall and as wide in sun or partial shade. The cultivar “Diana” is a good choice for flowers and fragrance.
Viburnum dentatum/Arrowwood Viburnum
This is a multi-stemmed viburnum with straight upright arching branches and interesting medium green foliage. It is perfect in the shrub border or as an interesting patio plant, and is wonderful when grown in mass. It grows to 10 feet in height and 6 feet in width in full sun to medium shade. It is tolerant of wet soils. Fall color is a clear dark wine and the leaves remain on the plant for some time. Fruit is a dark blue, showy and a favorite of birds. Flowers are yellow/white. Cultivars are many, “Blue Muffin” being the most commonly available in the trade. Native
Viburnum prunifolium/Blackhaw Viburnum
This nicely rounded small tree or large shrub is popular with nesting birds. It resembles the hawthorn tree in habit and pairs nicely with this tree. The clean habit is suitable for patio use or specimen planting. Fall color is reliable in shades of red, yellow and burgundy. The creamy white flowers are evenly spaced throughout the plant. The Blackhaw grows to 15 feet or more in height, with a spread of about 8 feet. The fruit is very tasty, but usually eaten by birds before they can be harvested. The shrub transplants easily and is adaptable to many different soils, including both wet and dry locations. It does well in sun or shade, but flowers better in a sunny location. Native
Viburnum “Pragense”/Prague Viburnum
This is an evergreen that does well in difficult situations such as shade and dry soils. It makes a great screen that also flowers which is uncommon in Maryland suited evergreens. It is very hardy, quick growing, and tough. The habit is loosely upright and informal. The flowers are pink in bud and open white. Prague viburnum grows to 10 feet in height but tolerates pruning well. Trouble free.
Make some room for these wonderful plants in your garden.