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The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 24, 2017 10:02 pm

Viburnums good in sunny areas

Ricky Kemery

Question: I am considering adding some flowering shrubs to my landscape this year. The site in question is full sun and some areas of partial shade. What might work in this area?

Answer: Viburnums can be a good choice for the areas you mentioned. Viburnums are very adaptable – some are great for part sun to full sun environments. They range in size, and some add fragrance as well as colorful flowers. Another plus to viburnums is that they have few major disease or insect issues.

Viburnum carlesii (Korean Spice Viburnum) is a very fragrant compact shrub (4 to 5 feet in height) that works well as a foundation plant or as a backdrop for smaller shrubs or perennials. The velvety foliage can sometimes turn scarlet in autumn. It is hard to beat the spicy fragrance of the pink-to-white numerous flowers in early spring. Viburnum juddii (Judd Viburnum) is very similar to Korean Spice Viburnum but has a more open growth habit.

Viburnum x burkwoodii (Burkwood Viburnum) is a slightly larger shrub (6 to 7 feet in height) with crisp semi-evergreen glossy foliage. This hybrid does well on a variety of sites. It also is a great backdrop for smaller shrubs and perennials. It can grow in full sun or partial shade. The flowers are also very fragrant.

Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood Viburnum) is the viburnum to choose for moist shady areas in your landscape. This is a native shrub, whose straight canes were used as arrow shafts by Native Americans. This shrub can reach to 6 to 7 feet in height. The fall berries are porcelain blue and look fabulous against the crisp foliage. Arrowwood does flower in the spring, but it is the berries that make this shrub very distinctive.

Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw) is a native viburnum that can reach a height of 10 to 15 feet. It can be easily trained as a small tree by pruning some lower side branches. The small foliage doesn’t produce much leaf litter. It is one of the more drought-tolerant Viburnums to use in landscapes. This shrub produces masses of white decorative flowers in spring that can put on a dazzling show in a home landscape. Blackhaw also produces small raisin-like berries that are preferred by wildlife. Its related cousin Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry) is a bit harder to find. It is also a large shrub and a bit more prone to powdery mildew than Blackhaw.

Viburnum dilatatum (Linden Viburnum) and Viburnum plicatum (Doublefile Viburnum) are also offered in the trades. These viburnums are very distinctive and yet may not be quite as adaptable and tough as the previous viburnums. It doesn’t mean you can’t try them. Double file offers rows of larger flowers in spring, and Linden Viburnum produces masses of berries and crisp foliage.

The Plant Medic, written by Ricky Kemery, appears every other Saturday. Kemery is the extension educator for horticulture at the Allen County branch of the Purdue Extension Service.