How to Grow Viburnums

This gorgeous plant equals 3 times the garden eye candy.

  • Choose viburnums that will thrive in your garden's conditions.
  • Prepare the soil by adding Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees and Shrubs.
  • Plant viburnums in full to partial sun in spring or early fall.
  • Water plants thoroughly at planting time and throughout the season as needed.
  • Feed plants in early spring with Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® Flowering Trees & Shrubs Plant Food, then again in late summer.
  • If you choose to prune, do so according to the plant's natural growth habit for the most beautiful and natural-looking shrub.

Looking for flowers, fruit, and fall color? There's a viburnum for that! Most viburnums offer at least one of these outstanding contributions to the garden, with many checking all 3 boxes. An additional benefit is that these shrubs are fantastic wildlife garden plants. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love their flowers, while birds enjoy snacking on their fruits. Viburnums provide wildlife with places for nesting and napping, too. Bottom line, it's worth making room in the garden and landscape for these beautiful shrubs.

How to Choose Viburnums

Most varieties of viburnum are deciduous (meaning they lose their leaves in the fall), though some are evergreen. There are many different choices and sizes. While some tolerate trimming well and can be pruned to stay at a certain size, most types of viburnums look best when allowed to grow in their natural shape. Also, you'll want to pay close attention to how tall and wide the viburnum you're thinking of growing will get.

Here are some popular viburnums to consider:

  • Korean spice: Wonderfully fragrant flowers in early spring, plus excellent fall color and fruit.
  • Arrowwood: Has completely straight, upright-growing branches that were once used to make arrows, plus eye-catching blue fruit and red or yellow fall color.
  • Doublefile: Grows more outward than upward, with big, white lacecap flowers that bloom in horizontal layers.
  • American cranberry bush: A native viburnum with beautiful, lacy white flowers and edible red berries.

Where to Plant Viburnums

Most viburnums grow best in full to partial sun, though a few will thrive in full shade. Check the plant tag when you purchase to make sure your planned location offers the right amount of light. Knowing the eventual size of your viburnum is also important when deciding where to plant, as it will need plenty of space to grow without requiring constant pruning.

When to Plant Viburnums

Plant viburnums in the spring or early fall. As long as they have the chance to establish good root systems before temperatures either get really hot or freezing cold, they'll be fine.

How to Prepare the Soil for Planting Viburnums

Viburnums will grow in just about any type of soil, but they prefer slightly acidic, moist, but well-drained soil. Prepare the soil for each planting hole by blending equal amounts of Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees and Shrubs and existing soil to encourage strong root growth and give your viburnum a great start. For the best shot at great growth, you'll want to combine the improved soil with the power of just the right plant food, so be sure to read the "How to Feed Viburnums" section below.

How to Plant Viburnums

1.    Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball.

2.    Drop Miracle-Gro® Quick Start® Planting Tablets into the planting hole (following label directions) to give the plant a quick boost of nutrition.

3.    Place the plant in the hole and check that the top of the root ball is even with or just slightly above the soil surrounding it. (If the plant is too deep, add some soil and re-check.)

4.    Once the depth is correct, fill in around the root ball and water well.

5.    To help keep the soil evenly moist and prevent weeds from growing by blocking their access to sunlight, lay 3 inches of mulch on top of the root ball (don't let the mulch touch the plant stem, though).

How to Water Viburnums

When you first plant viburnums, water every 1 or 2 days, whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Hold the hose near the root ball and make sure the root zone is thoroughly soaked at each watering. You'll be able to gradually increase the days between watering as the plants establish roots. Once viburnums have been in the ground for a year, they'll mainly need extra water if your area has gone without rain for 3 to 4 weeks. Keep an eye on the plants during such dry spells. If the leaves look droopy or have a greyish cast to them, water them until regular precipitation returns.

How to Feed Viburnums

Viburnums do best when fed when new leaves begin emerging in early spring. Apply Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® Flowering Trees & Shrubs Plant Food (follow the directions!) by shaking it evenly onto the soil, then watering. It contains natural, nutrient-rich ingredients, including kelp, feather meal, bone meal, and earthworm castings to help the plant grow strong and beautiful, and feeds for 3 whole months. Feed again in late summer.

How to Deal with Problems with Viburnums

The most common issue for viburnums are fungal problems that show up on damp leaves of shrubs growing in areas with poor air circulation. If you've planted a viburnum underneath a tree canopy and experience this problem, you may want to do a little pruning to open up the canopy and allow for better airflow. If you have irrigation set up in landscape beds, make sure the water streams are directed at the plant roots, not the leaves.

How to Prune Viburnums

Most viburnums don't need pruning. That being said, if you want to prune your viburnums, do so right after they finish flowering. Viburnums bloom on old wood, meaning they form new flower buds during the summer that will open the following spring. If you prune viburnums in the late summer or winter, you'll cut off the spring flowers.

Also, think about the natural growth habit of the particular type of viburnum that you're planning to prune. If it has a naturally upright habit, don't try to prune it into a ball. If it has a spreading habit, don't try to prune it into an upright shrub. Whenever possible, simply prune to remove crossing, dead, or diseased branches. If you're looking for a lot of fresh growth, it's okay to prune one-third of the branches down to the base of the shrub each year, a process that renews and reinvigorates the shrub with new, fresh growth. Again, though, this isn't necessary.