The Dirt

Viburnum Questions

What is it about viburnums that make them one of the most searched terms on the Fine Gardening website? The staff here are wondering if all of you out there (in cyberspace) want to know which one of the many cultivars are fragrant, or maybe which ones get those fabulous fall berries, or maybe you just need to know how to get rid of the aphids that infest your shrub every year…

So instead of wondering forever, we decided to simply ask: What do you want to know about viburnums? Your questions—and answers from our experts—may appear in an upcoming issue.

If you are searching for information on viburnums, please post a comment below—so we can finally have an answer to one of our most burning questions! 

Learn more about viburnums by reading Viburnums are Versatile Shrubs.

Use the Plant Finder to select a viburnum to grow. 

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  1. kitkath 05/04/2011

    *I hope people will ask the most problematic question about viburnums: "when is the right time to prune to get max flowing next season?"!! I really believe (as a nursery professional)that this is the most common homeowner (and landscaper!!) mistake made with viburnums.

  2. JerseyReef 05/05/2011

    I believe the biggest question people have with Viburnums occurs after their first or second fall/winter berry season. Wondering why their shrub didn't produce the fruit they were expecting...This gets them searching for answers. Likely they encounter the fact that nearly all Viburnums need new genetic material (another similar related shrub, but not an exact duplicate) to get good fruit production, then the research starts, which should have occurred in the first place. However, this aspect typically gets overlooked at the nursery and the owner ends up with a shrub (or multiple of the same shrub) that has very few viable pollinator candidates.

    Perhaps the second biggest question, finding the right Viburnum. The species list for Viburnum is rather large and can be rather daunting, even for the knowledgeable gardener. I believe +150 species exist, some more readily available than others... The gardener soon realizes that there may be several options available for their particular spot and the research begins...again.

  3. FlowerGardener 05/09/2011

    I've never had a viburnum, but am gardening for someone who has what I believe is a v. prunifolium blackhaw. It is much too large for the intended use, and is flourishing. I'd like to prune it to a more manageable size, and am wondering if the correct method would be waiting until after bloom, cutting 2-3 of the larger stems at the base, and then pruning (with hand pruner, not shears) at 6' or so.

    Also, I'd like to incorporate more natives into my garden, and would like more info on growing conditions for the various viburnums. Which take the most shade?

  4. 2tallct 05/09/2011

    What pollinator do I need for a blackhaw viburnum and also for a Bailey's compactum american cranberry bush? I need smaller types and shade tolerant. I also have a Blue Muffin Arrow Wood and a Morton? Will they pollinate each other? Do they need to be really close? Thanks!

  5. phedder 05/09/2011

    I recently transplanted my American Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). I live in zone 5A (Ottawa, Canada).I want to verify that I did the right thing by pruning it back 1/3rd so that it will put its energy into root growth, rather than to flowering this season. Also, this bush had a bit of trouble last season. The ends of the branches would dry up and wither away. I did not ever notice any aphids but tried to spray it with Safer's to be sure. What was wrong and how can I prevent this problem in future?

  6. trilliumlover 05/09/2011

    I have a leatherleaf that was planted way too close to the house and needs regular pruning to keep it in check. I would really like hard prune this spring. How far back can I prune?

  7. phedder 05/09/2011

    Another question: when and HOW to prune a viburnum. I have pruned ours but hope it wasn't too drastic. What is the best way to prune it?

  8. Canadianzone6 05/09/2011

    In southern Ontario, Canada we are having serious problems with viburnum beetle. Any suggestions for how to combat this little beastie would be much appreciated.
    Please don't suggest pesticides as they are all illegal here as of 2 years ago.
    Are there any climate, weather or growing conditions that are favourable or unfavourable for them?
    I have stopped reccommending viburnums as the problem is so serious.

    1. pennylyn 08/01/2015

      I also live in southern Ontario,and had a snowball viburnum. This year it has lost all the leaves to viburnum beetle twice. I am not expecting it to survive, but am concerned that this beetle may attack something else in my garden. Is this likely?

  9. bluebird58 05/09/2011

    I live in zone 7 (Oklahoma City). I have a "Cardinal Candy" viburnum, which has only bloomed twice in the six years it has been planted. I've wondered why it doesn't bloom every year, but while reading these comments, I've wondered whether I need another cultivar to encourage mine to bloom. Is that the problem? What would be a good companion cultivar? Thanks!

  10. Loued007 05/09/2011

    M beloved Viburnum juddii died last year - after a slow branch by branch death. The only problem I could identify were viburnum aphids, which I treated. Is there a common problem that would cause the dieback and eventual death?
    Thank you.

  11. user-7006906 05/09/2011

    Yes, I would like to know about pruning as well! Mine never blooms, what am I doing wrong?

  12. User avater
    user-900779 05/09/2011

    I have two different varieties of Viburnum's living side by side
    for 10 years. They have both been very healty.
    This year, the "Winterthur" viburnum barely
    emerged from dormancy in my Zone 7 yard; over half
    of it is death. The other viburnum, side by side
    is doing quite well. Now I need to know
    1. How much to prune of the bush and 2. how do I learn if
    this is some unnoticed pest which infected by plant?

  13. bbsox 05/09/2011

    I have Viburnum x burkwoodii 'Mohawk" that is about 6 ft. high and 4 ft. wide that was planted about 3 years ago. The shrub grows from one main parent stem. Should I practice the "thinning out" method of pruning or should I use "renewal pruning" by removing a few of the oldest and tallest branches? In other words, with this type of shrub, do I want to mostly keep the younger or older branches?

  14. dognpony 05/09/2011

    i have a huge overgrown forsythia as a backyard screen in the summer. a designer recommended replacing it with a 7-9' viburnum because of their (it's) four-season interest. well, what variety? will i be guaranteed berries? and most importantly, i heard some varieties are not only not fragrant, but stink! help! what should i pick??

  15. Concretist 05/09/2011

    Looking for a Viburnum (or bettter bush) that meets these criteria:
    a) Will take wet feet (low spot in yard, moist much of time, not mid summer)
    b) Full shade (Surrounded by trees, many are 15 feet away)
    c) Zone is around Detroit
    d) As hardy as most Viburnums

  16. user-7006907 05/09/2011

    We have leatherleaf viburnums that seem only to bloom on the lower, wider limbs.The new limbs are tall and somewhat lanky, giving the appearance of an odd new hairstyle without the gel. How can we best shape them and get flowers all over?

  17. user-7006907 05/09/2011

    We have leatherleaf viburnums that seem only to bloom on the lower, wider limbs.The new limbs are tall and somewhat lanky, giving the appearance of an odd new hairstyle without the gel. How can we best shape them and get flowers all over?

  18. StephfromRiverside 05/09/2011

    My yard has overgrown viburnums (tinus) as background plantings next to a wall. Gardeners have cut them with hedge trimmers during the past 15 years. They are leggy, some have evidence of mildew, and there are few blooms. I have taken over the gardening. When is the best time to deep prune? How far back can you cut to reshape the plant? Can my 20 plants be returned to their former glory?

  19. oldsquaw 05/09/2011

    I have 9 viburnums, if I'm counting correctly. This year the Carlesii's and a one year here Burkwoodii's blooms were sparse to almost non-existant on the latter. I so look forward to their scent. I would like to know how best to feed them, nurture them so they bloom profusely. They're both in sun a good part of the day.
    Also, I have two new leather leaf viburnums, and want to know how best to treat them to get lots of berries in fall for the birds.

  20. SuzL 05/09/2011

    I have a beautiful Mayflower vibernum which blooms with wonderful fragrant flowers each spring followed by berries to feed the birds. What is the best way to prune? I have always been leary of pruning because the natural shape is lovely and rounded.

  21. tractormama 05/09/2011

    I'm planning a new garden around my new house on 20 acres in southeast Missouri (the unflooded part!) Several species of wild viburnums are in the woods.

    It's such a large and varied family I'm always trying to find good pictures and descriptions. I'm most interested in fragrance, berries for wildlife, and fall color -- as well as good sources -- for more species of viburnums. But I don't like the fragrance of the "snowball bush."

    I would really appreciate a list describing the fragrance or comparing it to other known aromas, such as is done with roses.

  22. deerfeeder 05/09/2011

    I have a small new viburnum low growing bush with narrow leaves. The lower branches are resting on the ground - is this a problem? If so, what should I do?

  23. dramamama1961 05/09/2011

    I was recently told that leather leafs get an irritating residue on their branches. (A nursery landscaper shared this.) Have you found this to be true. Also, is their a variety that will bloom and add fall color in a part to full shade position? I LOVE viburnums.

  24. annielily 05/09/2011

    I have several viburnums that only partially leafed out this year. One side of the shrub is fine but the other half has leaf buds that seem to have formed and then dried up. Could this have been caused by an ice storm we had in this area? Should I leave the branches that did not leaf out alone,or should I prune them out?

  25. Frdgrntmatow 05/09/2011

    PLEASE don't make the mistake of only recommending zone 5 and higher viburnums!Those of us in zone 4 cannot benefit from articles in FG that do that. Very frustrating! Also, we are suffering from the invasion of the viburnum beetle. What can we do to discourage them? I know some varieties are known to be more resistant. Which ones are those? Good luck with your article. Thanks.

  26. petev 05/10/2011

    I would like advice on pruning viburnums such as Burkwoodii that form opposing stems and and are constantly crossing back into the center, rubbing one another etc. General pruning practices do not address this issue. Many "landscapers" simply shear them round - what I call the McDonalds prune - and leave it at that. I just can't do that. How, then, do you shape them and keep them in bounds?

  27. garnetgirl7 05/10/2011

    My viburnum, as well as those of a few friends, has some sort of leaf issue that causes the leaves to curl up, looking very unhealthy. What is the problem and how do I remedy it?

  28. altavitae 05/10/2011

    I'm dealing with a V. opulus which suffers from aphids and today noticed some indentations on one of the main branches, is this insect damage and if so, what can I do about it? The gardening season at this point is so busy I never deal with the aphids before they do damage(curled leaves).
    The tree, about 8 ft tall, is healthy looking and well leafed out and has flower buds, plus many new shoots from the base.

  29. Knolepark 05/10/2011

    I too have problems with flowering. I have several V. mariesii, of varying ages, in sun and in shade or partial shade. There is very sparse or no flowering on all of them, and I would like to know if there's a way to correct this.

  30. Twiggles 05/10/2011

    I have three new Korean Spice Viburnums (Viburnum carlesii). They all have one main trunk and then branch off into a "V". How do I prune these plants in order to have them grow into a nice full shrub? When should I prune? They did not flower this year.

  31. Jueneb 05/10/2011

    I have a hedge of Viburnum Tinus, supposed to be a dwarf, that is 8 feet tall. In the past I pruned just to shorten but now read that I should cut to the ground. The plants are 4 years old and very healthy. Can you advise?

  32. nagajo 05/11/2011

    Can viburnums be moved? I planted a V. macrocephalum last year without checking its ultimate size. I would like to move it if it can be done successfully. Also, my beautiful 'Shasta's have lots of suckers. Is this a typical condition of doublefiles? I don't have this problem with my 'Blue Muffin's or 'Winterthur'.

  33. dpsetyu 05/11/2011

    Is there a viburnum that is appropriate for container gardening on a deck or patio?

  34. flowerchild7 10/15/2012

    reported to be Blue Muffin (according to the design plan), the plants have not bloomed since the landscaper placed them. They have healthy normal growth. I do understand about the timing of pruning (after blooms).

    Incidentally, there is an american cranberry shrub close by and it happily blooms early each summer.

    My second concern, they are naturally a taller form then is appropriate for where they were planted. What is the shortest height reasonable to prune them down to without injuring/maiming them? I'd like to cut them back to ~4 ft to see how they respond.

  35. smoothie14 10/27/2012

    I would like to find a viburnum that will grow in shade that can tolerate dry conditions in winter. I live in Clearwater.
    It shouldn't grow more than 3ft.

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