Snowball Bush

Clusters of dainty blossoms in spring; colorful berries and foliage in fall

The Viburnum genus contains woody ornamental flowering shrubs and small trees. They can be either deciduous or evergreen, with most offering multi-season interest, starting with showy flat or rounded clusters of small, but abundant, creamy white or pink flowers followed by glossy berry-like red to black drupes, which can change color as they mature and may display as green, pink, yellow, or blue as they age. The flowers, often sweetly fragrant, attract butterflies; the fruits, a winter food source, attract birds. Another appealing feature of viburnums is their interesting foliage, which often exhibits vibrant fall color, ranging from red to scarlet to purple.

Viburnum is a large genus with species varying widely in height, width, flower style, as well as leaf shape and texture. A few varieties of horticultural importance are V. acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum), V. cinnamomifolium (cinnamon-leaved viburnum), V. dentatum (arrowwood viburnum), V. dilatatum (linden viburnum), V. lentago (nannyberry viburnum), V. opulus (snowball bush), V. plicatum (Japanese snowball, doublefile viburnum), V. prunifolium (black haw), and V. rufidulum (southern blackhaw, rusty blackhaw, rusty nannyberry). V. setigerum (tea viburnaum) is noted for its blue-green foliage and abundance of berries, and V. carlesii (Koreanspice viburnum) is known for its very fragrant flowers, but there are many varieties with charming characteristics. Some viburnums have beautiful horizontal, tiered branching, giving them a layered appearance and some have dense rounded habits with arching stems. The plants are easy to grow, drought tolerant once established, and disease and pest resistant. Plant viburnum in full sun to part shade in moist but well-drained soil. Use as specimens, shrub borders, hedges, and screening.