Viburnum Plant: Growing Evergreen Viburnum, How To ID, Care for Flowers

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | May 9, 2024

Man trimming viburnum plant after learning how to grow viburnum and plant types of viburnum, identify evergreen viburnum, flowers, fruits, colors of viburnum shrubs.

Viburnum plants include a diverse group of flowering shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen.

With more than 150 species, these varied plants are prized for their beautiful flowers, fruit, fall color, and growth habits, making them a favorite among many gardeners.

Viburnum are predominantly found in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, but some species grow in tropical montane regions and the Atlas Mountains in Africa.

These tough, adaptable plants tolerate most soil types, from clay to sand, and some wet or dry conditions. They bring multi-season interest with spring blooms, fall color, and showy fruit.

Viburnum flowers, foliage, berries, and form vary greatly between species and cultivars, but all feature dark green leaves arranged oppositely along stems.

Many Viburnum varieties make excellent hedges, screens, and foundation plantings, so if you’re interested in adding these plants to your landscaping, knowing how to cultivate and care for them properly is the first step.

This guide outlines everything you need to know, including how to identify them and what types you might choose for your project.

Growing a Viburnum From a Seed, Cutting, or Seedling

When growing a Viburnum from a seed, cutting, or seedling, you need to consider your tolerance for a potential failure.

While the plants grow easily from cuttings or transplanted seedlings, seeds can be very challenging.


(Viburnum spp.)

Viburnum with bright red berries on a branch with green leaves in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Characteristics: Viburnum plants display a diverse range of characteristics depending on the species. Known for their ornamental value, many varieties feature attractive berries, flowers, and foliage. Their growth habits can vary among species, with heights ranging significantly.
  • Family: Adoxaceae
  • Genus: Viburnum
  • Leaf: Opposite, simple entire, toothed, or lobed; cool temperate species are deciduous, while most warm temperate species are evergreen. Size ranges from 1-12 inches long. Leaf shapes vary from oval, rounded, and lance to maple leaf-shaped. Margins may be toothed or entire.
  • Bark: Ranges from smooth and thinly platy to heavily ridged and furrowed.
  • Seed: Single seed contained in a fleshy drupe.
  • Blossoms: White to light pink, held in 2-8 inch wide corymbs, domes clusters, or snowball-like clusters. Form ranges from tight, domed snowball clusters to flat-topped, lace-cap blossoms with showy sterile flowers surrounding tiny fertile flowers. Fragrance ranges from sweetly scented to unpleasantly scented.
  • Fruit: Spherical, oval, or somewhat flattened drupe containing a single seed; color ranges from red to yellow, blue, purple, and black.
  • Native Habitat: Native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with some species extending into tropical regions in South America and Southeast Asia. In Africa, the genus is confined to the Atlas Mountains.
  • Height: Ranges from 2 feet for dwarf varieties to 30 feet for larger plants. Most grow 6 to 15 feet.
  • Canopy: Ranges from low, mounded forms under 3 feet to upright large shrubs 12 to 20 feet wide.
  • Type: Deciduous, semi-evergreen, and evergreen
  • Native Growing Zone: Zones 2-9 (USDA Hardiness)

Much of this is due to the fact that they exhibit dormancy and require stratification in winter and summer to germinate over 1 to 2 seasons.

Here are tips for propagating Viburnum plants from all three options:

How To Plant Viburnum Bush From Seed

When planting Viburnum bush from seed, begin indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost. Nick or file the edges of cleaned seeds to encourage germination.

Then, soak the seeds for 24 hours before sowing in ¼-inch-deep in sterile seed starting mix.

Cover flats with plastic to retain moisture and place them in a bright, indirect 65 to 70 degree F location. Be sure to thin seedlings when true leaves form.

Then, harden off the plants and transplant them outdoors when all danger of frost passes. Site seedlings in protected areas to overwinter until they grow larger.

Bear in mind that this slow-growing method will not produce mature plants for 3 to 5 years.

How To Plant Viburnum Bush From Seedling

When planting Viburnum bush from seedlings, prepare the site in advance by mixing compost and aged manure with existing soil to promote good drainage and nutrition. Choose an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Space the seedlings according to expected mature dimensions. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball.

Set the plant at the same depth it was growing at in the pot and then backfill. Water to settle the soil and eliminate any air pockets.

Then, apply 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch.

How To Plant a Viburnum Hedge From Cutting

When planting a Viburnum hedge from a cutting, snip a 6-inch growth from a healthy, disease-free plant in early to mid-summer when shoots snap instead of bending. Remove all leaves from the lower half of the cutting.

Then, dip the ends in a rooting hormone and insert the cutting several inches deep into a sterile potting mix like peat and perlite. Place the pot in a bright, warm location protected from direct sunlight.

Water sparingly to keep the soil slightly moist until the roots form. Cover the pot with plastic to retain humidity.

After about 6 to 8 weeks, when rooting begins, transplant the new plants outdoors in the fall when they enter dormancy to give roots time to establish before active growth resumes in the spring. You can acclimate winter hardy varieties by placing nursery pots in a protected cold frame for winter before planting in the spring.

Planting Tips for Viburnum

To promote optimal growth, it’s important to protect and nurture young plants when they’re trying to establish roots.

A viburnum shrub with numerous spherical clusters of creamy white flowers, set against a backdrop of green leaves in a garden.

(Image: Alicja (_Alicja_)12)

Here are some planting tips for Viburnums that produce beautiful flowers and fruit while resisting pests and disease.

Best Growing Conditions for Viburnum

The best growing conditions for Viburnum are full-sun to part-shade areas that get a maximum of six hours of direct light per day.

High trees provide cover and suitable dappled lighting. Evergreen Viburnums tolerate more shade in most instances.

Ideally, you should choose a site with moist, well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged roots, which tend to rot. Be sure to amend planting sites with several inches of compost or rotted manure to enrich texture and nutrients.

Group Viburnums close together to promote better pollination, but be sure to space them apart to provide ample room to grow.

Viburnum Growing Zone

The Viburnum growing zone is generally 5 to 8, with moderate winters and adequate summer warmth–although some species can grow in zones 2 to 9.

Since growing zones for Viburnum vary, it’s important to choose varieties specifically recommended for your local winter low temperatures and summer highs. Evergreen Viburnums like Viburnum davidii and V. tinus thrive in warmer zone 7 to 9 regions with mild winters.

Tightly clustered red buds of a viburnum plant, surrounded by fresh green leaves with serrated edges.

(Image by: Denise Davis14)

Most deciduous Viburnum plants tolerate colder winters in zones 4 to 5 when fully established.

When To Prune Viburnum

To determine when to prune Viburnum, you need to consider your goals. It’s generally a good idea to perform some light annual pruning directly after flowering since the plants bloom on old wood growth set the prior year.

That said, you can prune more often if your goal is to shape hedges and prevent wild overgrowth, and you’re not worried about removing next year’s buds.

Rejuvenation pruning involves removing one-third of the oldest branches annually to avoid sacrificing too much flowering. Touch-up green hedges by shearing after flowering to reduce the risk of cutting away next year’s blooms.

Whatever your goals, it’s always best to prune out dead, damaged, and diseased branches promptly any time you notice them.

How To Prune Viburnum

When considering how to prune Viburnum, your focus should be on preventing disease. Always sterilize hand pruners in rubbing alcohol between cuts.

You should also make sure your pruners are sharp enough to make clean cuts. When pruning, make your cuts above a healthy outward-facing bud about ¼ inch from the stem.

Angle cuts away from the center of the plant to direct new growth outward. Properly placed cuts keep plants shapely and full while opening interiors to sunlight and air movement.

How To Identify Viburnum

When determining how to identify Viburnum, it’s important to remember that there are over 150 different species of the plant. With that said, the plant can generally be identified by its opposite branching and simple leaves that are toothed, lobed, or entire.

Viburnum plant leaves can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the species. Prominent leaf veining is evident in some species like Viburnum davidii.

Leaf undersides may be fuzzier than tops. The plant’s oppositely arranged leaves set Viburnum plants apart from other shrubs.

Viburnum’s bark can be smooth, platy on young branches, or fissured and furrowed on mature trunks and stems. Lenticels dot stems of most species, while buds are opposite along twigs.

Graphic of Viburnum identification showcasing the red Viburnum fruit clusters, the dense white Viburnum flower bloom, and the green Viburnum leaves, all against a green background.

Viburnum blossoms occur in spring, with flower shapes varying from flat-topped 2- to 4-inch clusters to dense, snowball-like 4- to 8-inch domes. The plant’s blossom color ranges from creamy types of white flowers to light pink flowers.

A few Viburnum species have pleasantly fragrant blossoms, while others emit odors that many find unpleasant.

The plant’s fruit is a small, round, or oval drupe containing a single seed. Fruit color includes shades of red, yellow, blue, purple, and black.

Birds love to eat Viburnum fruit, which helps ensure widespread distribution through seed dispersal.

Viburnum Leaves

Viburnum leaves come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Deciduous foliage turns lovely shades of burgundy, red, orange, yellow, and purplish hues in autumn.

Evergreen Viburnum leaves may take on red or purple winter tints. Prominent palmate venation is evident in many varieties.

Leaf sizes span a wide range, from just one inch up to 12 inches long. Shapes include oval, rounded, lance, maple leaf, and oblong.

Leaf margins may be finely toothed or entire. Leaf surfaces vary from heavily textured or veined to wrinkled or smooth.

Leaf texture ranges from matte to lustrous. The undersides of leaves often have hairs, petioles, and buds that create a gray tone.

Variegated forms with creamy white or golden yellow margins are available. Some species have toothless leaves with edges that roll under.

Viburnum Flowers

Viburnum flowers bloom between early March and June, depending on the variety. Some types will also bloom lightly a second time in summer and fall.

Blossoms occur in 2- to 8-inch wide clusters, and flowering lasts between one and two weeks.

Flower color is typically creamy white, but some types also have light pink or darker pink budded flowers that open white. A few Viburnum varieties have tight pink blooms.

Clusters of white viburnum flowers in bloom, hanging from a branch with fresh green leaves, in a garden setting with soft sunlight.

(Image: Artur Pawlak15)

As previously mentioned, Viburnum flowers can appear as tight, domed 2- to 4-inch clusters or 4- to 8-inch flat-topped lace-cap blossoms with showy sterile flowers surrounding tiny fertile flowers.

Popular fragrant Viburnum plants include Viburnum x carlcephalum, V. cartesii, and V. x burkwoodii, which all produce pleasant-smelling blossoms.1

Viburnum Seeds

Viburnum seeds are enclosed inside a berry-like fleshy fruit known as a drupe. The round, oval, or flattened fruit contains one or sometimes two seeds in most species.

Once ripe, the fruit color ranges from pale yellow, pink, and red to dark blue, purple, and black.

To ensure a good fruit set, you should plant two genetically distinct cultivars of the same species near each other. Bear in mind that Viburnum flowers are not self-fruitful.

For best results, grow different Viburnums together to improve pollination and increase the odds of abundant fruiting.

Birds relish the sweet Viburnum fruit, and fruiting plants encourage backyard bird activity.2 Finches, mockingbirds, robins, waxwings, and other species are commonly seen enjoying the winter bounty.

Ideal fruiting varieties include Viburnum dilatatum, V. nudum, V. setigerum, V. trilobum, and V. opulus.

Viburnums: Varieties and Characteristics

With more than 150 Viburnum varieties available, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. When making your choice, it’s important to consider bloom time, fall foliage color, fruit display, form, mature size, and growing conditions.

Here are some of the most popular varieties:

1. Arrowwood Viburnum

(Viburnum dentatum)

Arrowwood Viburnum is a tough, deciduous plant that grows 10 feet tall and wide. Native to Eastern North America, it offers a nice display of flat-topped white spring flowers; blue fruit loved by birds in fall; and excellent orange to wine-red autumn leaf color.

An Arrowwood shrub in full bloom, featuring clusters of tiny white flowers complemented by rich green foliage, in a sunlit woodland setting.

(Image: mefisher8)

Also called Viburnum dentatum, the plant tolerates clay soil, drought, pollution, and partial shade. Chicago Lustre and Blue Muffin are two compact Arrowwood cultivars that are perfect for smaller spaces.

A close-up of a pink and white blossoms of a Korean spice viburnum, in a natural setting.

(Image: waywardwes99)

2. Korean Spice Viburnum

(Viburnum carlesii)

One of the most fragrant varieties, Korean Spice Viburnum features sweetly scented, pink-budded, white snowball blooms in early to mid-spring.

Also called Viburnum carlesii, this dense, rounded, deciduous shrub can grow to 6 feet in height and width.3

Red fruit appears in early summer, followed by deep burgundy fall foliage. It grows best in zones 5 to 8.

3. Guelder-Rose

(Viburnum opulus)

Also known as the European cranberry bush, Viburnum opulus offers abundant large clusters of bright red, edible fall fruit that lasts into winter, as well as deep reddish-purple autumn foliage.

The Guelder-Rose viburnum with its white flowers, some in full bloom and others as tight green buds, against a backdrop of vibrant green leaves.

(Image: Norrland10)

The plant produces showy, flat-topped white lace-cap spring flowers, which give way to persistent fruit.

Growing up to 10 feet tall and nearly as wide, it has an arching rounded form. The plant thrives in full sun with moist soil but requires afternoon shade in hot summer areas.

Chinese Snowball Viburnum with its large, snowball-like clusters of white flowers.

(Image: JoJan11)

4. Chinese Snowball Viburnum

(Viburnum macrocephalum)

Chinese Snowball Viburnum features extra large, snowball-like, white to lime-green sterile blooms in early to mid-spring.4 Around late summer, flowers give way to showy clusters of red fruit that ultimately turn black.

Reaching 10 to 20 feet in height, the bold deciduous shrub makes a dramatic statement. It tolerates partial shade and sporadically re-blooms in summer and fall after spring flowers fade.

Viburnum Facts and Tips

The more you know about your plants, the better equipped you’ll be to promote optimal growth.

Here are some Viburnum facts and tips to inform your planting strategies.

Viburnum Growth Rate

The typical Viburnum growth rate is moderate, with plants averaging one to two feet of new growth per year, depending on the species and cultivar.

For dwarf and very compact mounded varieties under three feet tall, you can expect a slower rate of growth of about 12 inches annually.

On the other hand, fast-growing evergreen Viburnum tinus is capable of achieving up to three feet of new growth per year.

Upright large shrubs like Viburnum x burkwoodii and V. carlesi can add two to three feet per year in optimal conditions. Ultimately, however, your growth rate will depend on the plant type and local climate.

To maximize growth, make sure you provide fertile, moist soil with good drainage. Bear in mind that hot summers can stunt growth and promote temporary dormancy.

Companion Plants for Growing Viburnum

When considering companion plants for growing Viburnum, you want to choose options that complement its aesthetics and flourish in similar conditions.

White viburnum flowers in full bloom, with a backdrop of dark green leaves, highlighted by sunlight.

(Image: Mirosław Gierlach16)

Viburnums pair beautifully with spring ephemerals like crocus, daffodils, and tulips. Summer perennials, including Astilbe, ferns, hosta, and ligularia, enjoy dappled shade cast by Viburnum plants.

You can contrast deciduous Viburnum by interplanting them with broadleaf evergreens like boxwood, camellia, holly, leucothoe, and Pieris. You can also underplant taller-growing Viburnum with lower-growing shrubs, perennials, groundcovers, and spring bulbs.

How Much Sunlight Does Viburnum Need Each Day?

All plants need natural light to grow. But how much sunlight does Viburnum need each day?

To thrive, most species of Viburnum require at least six hours of light. Any less, and you will see stunted growth and less flower and fruit production.

Watering Needs for Viburnum Plants

When considering the water needs for Viburnum plants, you want to be mindful of root rot. In general, new Viburnum transplants will need consistent moisture until their roots develop.

Once this occurs, they become more drought tolerant, requiring less water. You can use your finger to monitor moisture levels beneath the layer of mulch; if the top few inches feel dry, it’s usually time to add water.

How Frequently Do Viburnum Plants Flower?

Many spring flowering shrubs like lilac give just a single yearly floral display for a couple of weeks. But how frequently do Viburnum plants flower?

Tight clusters of budding Viburnum flowers, with shades of pink and red, set against a background of leaves and branches.

(Image by: Denise Davis14)

The good news is that most Viburnum plants impress over longer peak bloom periods, with flowers lasting up to a month. A few everblooming species like V. plicatum ‘Popcorn’ and V. tinus flower sporadically from summer through fall after their spring debuts.5

How Far Apart To Plant Viburnum

When determining how far apart to plant Viburnum plants, consider the species’ projected size. Most only need about 3 to 4 feet of space, but you should check the tag to be sure.

Common Pests of the Viburnum

Common pests of the Viburnum plant include aphids,6 lace bugs, scale, spider mites, and Viburnum leaf beetle larvae, which chew foliage and sap plant vigor.

How To Stop Viburnum Disease

When considering how to stop Viburnum disease, you want to focus on prevention. This means avoiding overwatering, which can promote root rot.

It also means providing plenty of room between plants to promote good airflow. When pruning, be sure to sharpen and sanitize your tools to keep from spreading disease and leaving your plants vulnerable to pests and infections.

While chemical insecticides and antifungals can be useful, many have great success incorporating natural pest control for Viburnum in their landscape gardening habits.7

However, prevention is the best way to prevent disease in Viburnum plants.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Viburnum

What Do Viburnum Plants Symbolize?

Viburnum symbolism centers on pride. The plant’s berries are also known to symbolize resilience and adaptability.

What Is the Growth Rate of Viburnum?

When considering how long it takes to grow Viburnum, you need to factor in your local climate. In general, you can expect one to two feet of new growth per year, depending on the species, as long as growing conditions are optimal.

How Do You Prevent Viburnum Plant Disease?

Viburnum disease prevention centers on preventing soil from becoming too wet and promoting optimal airflow. You should also be careful to sanitize shears when pruning.

When Should You Plant Viburnum?

To determine when to plant Viburnum for the best yield, you need to keep a close eye on your local weather. Ideally, you want to plant seedlings and cuttings as early in the spring as possible once the threat of frost has safely passed.


1North Carolina Cooperative Extension. (2024). Viburnum x burkwoodii. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved February 29, 2023, from <>

2University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. (2024). Plant of the Week: Viburnum dentatum, Arrowwood Viburnum. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

3North Carolina Cooperative Extension. (2024). Viburnum carlesii. North Carolina Extension Gardener PlanteToolbox. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

4North Carolina Cooperative Extension. (2024). Viburnum macrocephalum. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

5Oregon State University. (2024). Viburnum tinus. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

6Donne, I., Smitley, D., & Wilson, M. (2020, June 19). What’s eating my viburnums and how can I stop it? Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

7Borden, M. A., Buss, E. A., Park Brown, S. G., & Dale, A. G. (2018, September 26). Natural Products for Managing Landscape and Garden Pests in Florida. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

8Photo 129052171 Photo by mefisher. (2021, May 14) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

9Photo 186239049 Photo by waywardwes9. (2022, April 4) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Cropped and Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

10Photo 199722462, Photo by Norrland. (2022, May 21) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

11File:Isola Bella (97).JPG Photo by JoJan. (2013, March 20) / CC BY 3.0 DEED Attribution 3.0 Unported. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

12Viburnum Bush Ornate Plant Nature Photo by Alicja (_Alicja_). (2018, May 3) / Pixabay Content License. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

13Species Information Image: Red Round Fruits on Green Tree During Daytime Photo by Roma Kaiuk🇺🇦. (2020, August 31) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <>

14Images of Korean Spice Viburnum Buds Provided by Denise Davis

15Viburnum Flowers Garden Photo by Artur Pawlak (artellliii72). (2022, May 27) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved April 4, 2024, from <>

16Flowers White Viburnum Shrub Photo by Mirosław Gierlach (Mirek-G). (2023, June 2) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved April 4, 2024, from <>