Viburnum plicatum Mariesii

Best viburnums to grow

We pick eight of the best viburnums to grow, including native species and their benefits.

Whether evergreen or deciduous, there are plenty of benefits to growing viburnums – notably their flowers, foliage, berries and value to wildlife.

Some are particularly valued for their winter blooms, too. For heady fragrance, try growing Viburnum x bodnantense or spring-flowering Viburnum x burkwoodii.

As for wildlife, garden birds like blackbirds, thrushes and robins will enjoy the cover they provide, as well as the juicy berries, and pollinating insects will benefit from the flowers.  

In beds and borders viburnums can be used to add structure and autumn colour, or act as stunning focal points.

Discover eight of the best viburnums to grow, below.

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Viburnum davidii

This Chinese native is a low-growing evergreen shrub, with attractive veining on dark green leaves.Viburnum davidii is dioecious, so you'll need both male and female plants to ensure the metallic blue berries appear. Flowers from December through to April.

Viburnum opulus

A UK native, Viburnum opulus, or guelder rose, is a fantastic plant. The spring flowers are attractive to pollinators, hoverflies especially, and birds will enjoy feasting on the glossy red berries. Try growing it as part of a mixed wildlife hedge. 

Viburnum x bodnantense

This deciduous viburnum is 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. For scent, you could also try Viburnum x burkwoodii.

Viburnum fordiae

Like Viburnum opulus, Viburnum fordiae is a deciduous shrub with masses of glossy berries in autumn. The panicles of white flowers are similar to those of Spiraea japonica, though the two species aren't closely related. A good plant for birds and pollinators.

Viburnum macrocephalum

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. 

Viburnum tinus

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. 

Viburnum plicatum

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.

Viburnum sargentii

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 at is matures. Butterflies enjoy the blooms. 
Viburnum macrocephalum is known as Chinese snowball, owing to the masses of spherical flowerheads.

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Viburnum davidii 'Angustifolium'
Viburnum davidii 'Angustifolium'

Tips for growing viburnums

  • Viburnums are easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of soils and light levels, but they dislike waterlogged soil
  • As with any shrub, get them off to a good start when planting by digging a generously-sized hole with plenty of organic matter dug in
  • 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

Discover more ideas and inspiration

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