Viburnum, also called hobblebush, American cranberry bush and European cranberry bush, is an attractive, deciduous shrub that requires little maintenance and minimum watering. These large, spring-flowering bushes are native to Asia, Europe and the United States. Their fall foliage, flowers and berries range in colour from red and yellow to black and blue, and remain on bare winter branches, making this plant a four-season star in any landscape. Most varieties attract birds and other wildlife. Plant viburnum in your landscape as screens, hedges or filler shrubs, and locate varieties with exceptionally fragrant flowers near your house to enjoy their sweet scent.
Plant your viburnum in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. Viburnum planted in sunny locations produce more flowers and fruit and have more showy fall foliage colour than those planted in the shade. Some species of viburnum can tolerate less sun and drier soil; check with your local garden nursery for tips about your specific growing conditions.
Amend the soil each spring by applying compost beneath the shrub. Apply a 1-inch layer of compost to the outer edge of its branches, avoiding the 6 inches surrounding the trunk to prevent trunk burn.
Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch over the compost, avoiding the 6-inch area around the trunk. Mulch will suppress weeds and help maintain moisture levels. Viburnum generally do not need to be fertilised.
Water lightly in the summer when the soil appears dry, but do not overwater. Do not water if the area receives more than 1 inch of rainfall a week. Young shrubs that are not yet established may need more watering.
Prune viburnum after flowering, if desired, to provide shape to the shrub or to keep them in a hedge formation. Viburnum does not need to be pruned, but thoughtful pruning will result in a strong shrub with a pleasant shape. Remove up to 1/3 of the older stems to thin the shrub and keep strong central stems intact.
Check with your local home and garden centre for information on which viburnum species are best suited for your area.
Some viburnum berries are edible for humans but some are mildly toxic, so it is recommended to avoid eating them altogether.