Viburnum is one of those plants which sit quietly, almost demurely in your garden for most of the year. But when it blooms, puts on a show worthy of any spring bride.
The genus contains more than150 species of shrubs, small trees and a few ground covers. It is in the Caprifoliaceae family alongside the Lonicera (Honey suckle) and Abelia
Predominately they are cooler climate plants, originating from Asia, North America, Africa and Europe. These will often cope with subzero temperatures.
The warmer climate species are the ones most suited to South East Queensland and compared to their cooler, mostly deciduous cousins, these evergreen plants will look good all year.
Viburnum are best known for their display of flowers in spring and summer. While the individual flowers are small they are displayed in large inflorescences and are often scented.
The fruit is another attractive aspect to most species of Viburnum. Ranging from red through to blue and black, they remain on the plants for a long time. The fruit from some species are edible though others are mildly poisonous, so seek advice prior to trying if you are so inclined.
Evergreen varieties make good large hedges and wind break, screening plants. Prune after flowering to maintain a good hedge shape, though this will result in the loss of the fruit.
Planted in full sun or part shade you should not have much problem with Viburnum They are generally okay with acid or alkaline soils and with a few exceptions, prefer it to be moist but well drained .
Propagate from semi-hardwood cuttings in summer or seed if viable during autumn. Most cultivars varieties are sterile.
V. odoratissimum is one of the few which do well in the hotter climates and is quite popular in our region. In fact it is frost tender.
It is essentially a small tree. With the potential of growing to 6m tall and a spread of 4-5m, it can make a nice specimen plant in a larger grassed landscape. Alternatively, it can be pruned after flowering to form a hedge, preferably 2-3m high. This particular Viburnum is fast growing with large glossy leaves, so if a hedge is what you are after be prepared for it to have a looser structure, especially around flowering. The scent from this variety is particularly good, filling the whole garden.
One of the most popular cultivars of this species is V. ‘Emerald Lustre’ The new leaf has a bronze glow which changes to emerald green with age. This cultivar does suffer from aphid attack, a pest which does not seem to affect the original species.
Viburnums are definitely worth considering around the garden of you are looking for a large hedge or small feature tree.