University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Viburnums Versatile Shrubs for the Landscape

March 15, 2001

Viburnums are a group of versatile, adaptable shrubs for northern Illinois landscapes. While most are larger shrubs, there are actually several species in this group that have a variety of characteristics.

Most viburnums will flower and produce fruit that often attracts birds. For example, arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) is a large, vase-shaped shrub ideal for background and screening plantings. Arrowwood viburnum grows in shade and can tolerate wet soils. Features of this shrub include white flowers in June, blue fruits in summer, and maroon foliage in fall.

Another popular viburnum is Viburnum trilobum, known as American cranberrybush viburnum. This shrub is also adapted to moist soil and shade locations. White, lacy flowers yield edible red fruits that hang on well into winter.

Nannyberry Viburnum (Viburnum lentago) is also popular. Nannyberry viburnum will adapt to moist or dry soil, and sun or shade. White flowers will lead to black fruit on this shrub. Nannyberry may be leggier in growth than other viburnums.

Viburnum lentago, or Wayfaringtree viburnum, is yet another large, upright shrub that tolerates shade but needs dry soil. This species also has white flowers, then red to black fruit, and maroon foliage late in fall.

Finally, there are also smaller viburnum species. Viburnum carlesii, Koreanspice viburnum, is a medium shrub with rounded form, pink to white fragrant flowers, and blue to black fruit. Viburnum opulus ‘Nanum', or dwarf European cranberrybush viburnum, makes a good small, informal hedge. This viburnum has globe-like form and is shade tolerant. Unlike other viburnums, it very rarely flowers or produces fruit.


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