If you're looking for a flowering shrub to improve your landscape, consider using viburnum. There are several viburnum varieties to choose from, and although they're tropical plants, they can adapt to several climates.
Viburnums are large shrubs, but when grown in the right conditions and given proper pruning and care, they can be grown as small trees. They grow clusters of flowers, and some will also grow berries. Viburnum is generally non-toxic, although there are a few exceptions. Some varieties are used to make condiments such as jam or sauce. It's said that the berries taste similar to raisins.
Viburnums are perfect for landscapes that need a pop of color. Let's take a look at some excellent viburnum varieties.
25 Viburnum Varieties:
- Arrowwood Viburnum
- Blackhaw Viburnum
- Burkwood Viburnum
- Cinnamon-Leaved Viburnum
- David Viburnum
- Doublefile Viburnum
- European Cranberrybush
- Fragrant Snowball Viburnum
- Japanese Snowball Viburnum
- Japanese Viburnum
- Judd Viburnum
- Korean Spice Viburnum
- Laurustinus Viburnum
- Leatherleaf Viburnum
- Mapleleaf Viburnum
- Sandankwa Viburnum
- Sargent Viburnum
- Snowball Bush
- Sweet Viburnum
- Tubeflower Viburnum
- Viburnum tinus “Gwenllian”
- Wayfaring Tree
- Witherod Viburnum
1. Arrowwood Viburnum
Arrowhead viburnum is a rounded shrub that can reach up to 15 feet (4.57 meters) tall and spread out just as wide. It grows dark green leaves and clusters of white flowers during the summer. In the fall, the green leaves will turn to gorgeous red tones. In late summer and early fall, you'll see berries that are black and look like blueberries.
It can withstand cold temperatures and will struggle in hot climates that don't receive cool winters. It should receive part shade or full sun, which is at least 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. With proper care, expect this shrub to grow up to 2 feet (60.69 centimeters) per year until it reaches maturity.
2. Blackhaw Viburnum
The blackhaw viburnum is often used as a hedge because of its size and how easy it is to prune. It can grow 12-15 feet (3.65-4.57 meters), but likely won't spread out that long, making it a tall and thin shrub. When several plants are grown near each other in a row, they can be pruned as they mature so they'll form a hedge.
This viburnum variety grows small white flowers in the spring, followed by black or blueberries. The foliage will turn purple or red, making a useful privacy hedge an attractive centerpiece for your landscape. Like other viburnums, it needs full sun or partial shade to thrive.
3. Burkwood Viburnum
The burkwood viburnum is a smaller variety, only reaching up to 10 feet (3.04 meters) tall at full maturity. It won't spread out to the same width, so it won't take up as much room in a landscape. This type of viburnum will grow either pink or white clusters of flowers in the spring, followed by red or blackberries in the summer.
The plant should have full or partial sun exposure for it to be happy. The plant will go dormant during winter in cold areas and have showy red leaves during the fall, but it will remain evergreen in warmer areas. The growth rate is about the same as the arrowhead variety, so it should grow up to 2 feet (60.69 centimeters) per year.
4. Cinnamon-Leaved Viburnum
The cinnamon-leaved viburnum is a giant variety that can reach up to 20 feet (6.09 meters) tall and spread out just as wide. It's ideal for landscapes that have a lot of bare space. The flowers are pink and white, and the plant boasts bright red stems and dark leaves. The plant will eventually grow blueberries.
This shrub should receive partial shade or full sun exposure. It's an evergreen variety that will keep its leathery green leaves all year long. If you don't want the shrub to become massive, you'll need to prune it frequently.
5. David Viburnum
The David viburnum is essentially the little sibling of the cinnamon-leaved viburnum. You'll see many similarities between the two, including red stems, blueberries, and the shape of the leaves. However, the size of the David variety is far from substantial, reaching only 3-5 feet (0.91-1.52 meters) tall. If you're looking for a modest shrub to use in a small yard or a short hedge, this variety will work well.
This viburnum variety likes partial or full sun, but it will do better when it receives shade in the afternoon to prevent it from scorching. It's a slow grower, so you shouldn't expect it to reach full size in the first year, even if its full size is small.
6. Doublefile Viburnum
The double-file viburnum takes on the shape of a small tree rather than a shrub. It will only grow to about 10 feet (3.04 meters) but can provide a bit of shade if it's placed in the center of a yard. This viburnum variety takes on a layered appearance since the flowers and leaves face the sky. The unique look of this plant will add some dimension and texture to any landscape.
As expected, this viburnum likes full sun or partial shade. However, it requires a bit more water than other varieties. Keep the soil moist, but don't let it stand in water, or you'll risk rotting the roots.
7. European Cranberrybush
Although it's called the European cranberrybush, it's still a viburnum. Cranberrybush is a common name for this variety because it grows berries that resemble cranberries. The shrub only reaches up to 6 feet (1.82 meters) and grows clusters of white flowers in the spring, followed by bright red berries in the fall. The berries are edible, but they're so tart that most people don't want to eat them.
This plant prefers plenty of water, but it should have good drainage, so it doesn't become waterlogged. Although the plant is small, its dense and will have a lot of foliage and flowers. The leaves will turn colors and fall off as it cools down in the fall.
8. Fragrant Snowball Viburnum
The fragrant snowball viburnum, sometimes only referred to as the fragrant snowball, grows round clusters of white flowers which look a lot like snowballs. But, this plant thrives in warm climates with cool winters and won't grow well in colder areas. The white snowballs bloom in spring and will grow red and blackberries, followed by red leaves in the fall.
The plant will grow up to 10 feet (3.04 meters) tall. It's a drought-tolerant shrub once it's established, making it a low-maintenance plant. If you don't intend to prune it, this will be an enjoyable hands-off approach to a beautiful landscape.
The hobblebush is a large viburnum variety that seems only to grow larger. When the arching branches are left to sit on the ground, they'll form roots and begin growing. The hobblebush earned its common name because its many roots and branches are known to trip people and make them hobble. If you're not interested in frequently pruning shrubs, this won't be the best choice.
Like other varieties, this one grows white flowers that grow blueberries. The foliage will turn red or purple in the fall before it goes dormant for the winter.
10. Japanese Snowball Viburnum
The Japanese snowball viburnum is similar to the fragrant snowball with its rounded clusters of white flowers. This viburnum variety may also be called Popcorn since the flower clusters also resemble popcorn balls.
This variety only grows about half as tall as the fragrant snowball viburnum. The smaller size makes it ideal for short privacy hedges since it's not too tall to keep pruned. It's drought-tolerant, although it will look its best when it's given frequent waterings.
11. Japanese Viburnum
The Japanese viburnum blooms small white flowers in the spring and red berries in the fall. The oval leaves are dark green and glossy and may stay on the plant all year long in cooler areas.
The plant will reach up to 8 feet (2.43 meters) tall and needs frequent watering. It can't survive in cold climates and should be heavily mulched during the winter if you try to grow it in places where it gets cold in winter.
12. Judd Viburnum
Judd viburnum got its name from William H. Judd, who created the hybrid. It has rounded flower clusters like the snowball viburnum varieties, but the flowers are pink instead of white. The dark green leaves will turn purple in the fall as the plant grows red berries that will turn black.
The shrub will grow to be 8 feet (2.43 meters) tall and spread out a few feet wider. It can grow in cool and mild climates and will go dormant in the winter. This variety is great to use as a privacy hedge or as a centerpiece in a landscape.
13. Korean Spice Viburnum
The Korean spice viburnum is native to Korea and Japan and can easily grow in similar climates. It's a smaller variety, reaching only 6 feet (1.82 meters) tall and spreading out just as wide, although it may occasionally spread out a bit wider. This unique variety grows redbuds in the spring that open up in spring to reveal pink flowers that eventually change to white. The plant will produce dark blueberries during summer.
The plant prefers to be watered frequently and can tolerate cool climates. It can be grown as a hedge or left untrimmed to be a beautiful mid-sized shrub.
14. Laurustinus Viburnum
The laurustinus viburnum is native to the Mediterranean. It can partially tolerate drought and salt, making it a viable choice from coastal to arid climates. This plant grows up to 12 feet (3.65 meters) tall but won't spread out as wide. It's great for tall privacy hedges but will serve as a beautiful centerpiece in yards.
The plant has shiny dark green foliage and white flowers that come out of pink buds. It will grow berries ranging from blue to black in the fall. It prefers full sun or partial shade and should receive plenty of water. However, it can adapt to dry conditions once it's established.
15. Leatherleaf Viburnum
Leatherleaf viburnum has slender oval-shaped leaves that are quite different than most viburnum varieties. It grows bright red buds that bloom white flowers and eventually have blackberries. The leaves are light or dark green.
In warm climates, this plant is evergreen, but it will have a deciduous life cycle in colder areas. It can grow up to 10 feet (3.04 meters) and spread out about the same length.
16. Mapleleaf Viburnum
The maple leaf viburnum has distinctive maple leaf-shaped leaves that are bright green but turn magenta in the fall. The plant is prized for its beautiful autumnal foliage in the fall and its elegant white flowers in the spring. The berries it produces are black with blue hues. This plant only reaches up to 6 feet (1.82 meters) tall and spreads out to about half that size.
It's said that nanny goats like to eat the berries off the nannyberry, which is how it got its name. Its scientific name is Viburnum lentago, so it is, indeed, a viburnum. This massive shrub can grow up to 16 feet (4.87 meters) tall and spread out up to 12 feet (3.65 meters). However, with diligent pruning, you can train it to grow as a tree with one single trunk that will reach up to 30 feet (9.14 meters).
The nannyberry is deciduous and can survive cold winters. It has bright green leaves and white flower clusters that produce dark blueberries that can make jelly or jam.
18. Sandankwa Viburnum
The sandankwa viburnum is native to Japan and is commonly used in Florida and other places with similar climates. It can be used as a hedge or grown as a small tree. It can reach up to 12 feet (3.65 meters) and grown on a single trunk if it's routinely trimmed. The plant has dark green leaves and white flowers and will grow red and blackberries.
19. Sargent Viburnum
The Sargent viburnum is deciduous and can survive cold winters. It has dark green leaves that start out as maroon when they first appear. It grows up to 10 feet (3.04 meters) tall and prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade. The red buds produce white flowers and red berries.
This plant can be grown as a hedge or a single bush. Pruning may allow you to grow it as a tree, but it will be short if you go that route.
20. Snowball Bush
The snowball bush is named for its snowball-shaped clusters of flowers, just like the other snowball viburnum varieties we saw earlier. The flowers are replaced with bright red berries in the fall. It can survive cold temperatures and prefers frequent watering. It grows in boggy soil in some places, so it can take on more water than usual.
Please note that this plant is now considered invasive in parts of the United States.
21. Sweet Viburnum
Sweet viburnum can be grown as a large shrub or a small tree. It can reach up to 20 feet (6.09 meters) tall, so it may not be the best choice for a privacy hedge. It will behave as deciduous or semi-evergreen, depending on how cold the climate is. The best growing condition for this shrub is full sun with afternoon shade. It grows white flowers with red berries.
This plant isn't recommended if you want to prune it vigorously. The plant will become leggy and won't look full if it's pruned too much.
22. Tubeflower Viburnum
The tubeflower viburnum got its name from the tube-shaped flowers it produces. It looks much different compared to other viburnum varieties. The clusters of flowers will look sparse compared to others since the flowers don't open up and cover the stems. Occasionally it can grow egg-shaped berries that are black, but this type of viburnum doesn't grow berries as often as other varieties do.
23. Viburnum tinus “Gwenllian”
Gwenllian is the name of this cultivar of Viburnum tinus. It grows white and pink flowers and can grow berries that are either black, blue, or red. What makes this variety unique is how it blooms in late winter instead of in the spring or summer. It prefers mild climates that have cold but not sub-zero temperatures.
24. Wayfaring Tree
The wayfaring tree is a medium-sized viburnum variety measuring up to 8 feet (2.43 meters). It has dark green leaves and clusters of white flowers that will make red berries in July that will eventually turn black. This variety is drought-tolerant and grows best when the soil is on the dry side. If you live in an area that receives a lot of rain, you should make sure this plant has excellent drainage so the roots won't stay soggy.
25. Witherod Viburnum
Witherod viburnum is native to North America. It's found in fields, swamps, bogs, and woods, so it can withstand considerable amounts of moisture. The branches are usually small and thin and it has dark green leaves that turn red, purple, and orange in the fall. White flowers form in the spring and are followed by berries that will be a variety of colors such as green, pink, blue, black, and red. Sometimes all of the colors of berries may be in the same cluster at one time.