Viburnums can be evergreen or deciduous shrubs, providing attractive foliage, flowers and fruits in the garden. Viburnums can be great for wildlife, too – they provide cover for a variety of garden birds such as blackbirds, thrushes and robins, while some bear pollen- and nectar-rich flowers and nutritious berries.
In beds and borders, viburnums can be used to add structure and autumn colour, or act as a stunning focal point.
More on growing viburnums:
We’ve picked eight of our favourite viburnums to grow, below.
This Chinese native viburnum is a low-growing evergreen shrub, with attractive veining on dark green leaves, white flowers from December through to April, and metallic blue berries. Viburnum davidii is dioecious, so you’ll need both male and female plants to guarantee berries.
Height x Spread: 1.5m x 1.5m
A UK native, the guelder rose, Viburnum opulus, bears beautiful spring flowers, which are particularly attractive to hoverflies, followed by glossy red berries. Try growing it as part of a mixed wildlife hedge.
H x S: 8m x 4m
Viburnum x bodnantense
This deciduous viburnum is a hybrid of two parent species, native to China and the Himalayas, respectively. It’s grown for its clusters of scented, pale pink flowers and its rich autumn colour. Viburnum x bodnantense cultivars to grow include ‘Charles Lamont’ and ‘Dawn’. Plant next to doorways or seating areas to appreciate the rich fragrance of its flowers.
H x S: 2.5m x 1.5m
Another Chinese native, Viburnum fordiae is one of the best viburnums to grow. A deciduous shrub, it bears panicles of white flowers in summer, followed by glossy berries in autumn. It’s a great choice for birds and pollinators.
H x S: 4m x 4m
Viburnum macrocephalum is known as Chinese snowball, owing to the masses of spherical flowerheads, like those of mophead hydrangeas. Fast growing, it makes a spectacular statement shrub and will eventually reach the size of a small tree.
H x S: 5m x 4m
Viburnum tinus is a hardy, evergreen viburnum, native to the Mediterranean. It can be grown as a hedge, but also makes a lovely green backdrop for other plants. Grow in full sun or partial shade, in a moist, well-drained soil.
H x S: 3m x 3m
Viburnum plicatum is a bushy, deciduous shrub with pretty white flowerheads. Popular cultivars to grow include ‘Dart’s Red Robin’ and ‘Mariesii’, both of which have pretty, lacecap flowers, followed by berries in autumn. A good plant for birds.
H x S: 1.8m x 2m
Viburnum sargentii is a robust, deciduous viburnum, with maple-like leaves and lacecap flowers in spring and summer. ‘Onondaga’ is a lovely cultivar, with red-bronze young foliage, that greens up as it matures. Butterflies enjoy the blooms.
H x S: 2.5m x 1.5m
Tips for growing viburnums
- Viburnums are easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of soil types and light levels, but they dislike waterlogged soil.
- As with any shrub, dig a generous hole and add plenty of organic matter, before planting viburnums.
- Most viburnums need little pruning, though you can rejuvenate old viburnums if needed.
- For clipped hedges and bushes, Viburnum tinus is one of the best species to grow.
- Don’t hide away viburnums at the back of borders, instead give them a prominent spot so the berries and blooms can be enjoyed.