Several options to consider when adding viburnum on Western Slope

I live in Orchard Mesa and am looking for a large viburnum to plant on the north end of my yard. It would receive some morning and late afternoon sun. I want privacy screening, good fragrance and berries for the birds. What do you recommend?

— Joe

Viburnums are a big group of wonderful landscape plants that I think are underused here in western Colorado.

They are showy and adaptable, often giving three seasons of color in the yard: flowers in spring, berries in summer and good fall color. Most will grow from full sun to bright shade with little care other than regular watering.

There are a number of good viburnums you could choose from. Here are some choices to consider: 

Alleghany grows 8–12 feet tall and wide with an upright rounded growth habit. The dark green leathery semi-evergreen foliage with silvery undersides is closely held to the stout branches. Creamy-white flowers bloom in clusters in late spring. Bright red berries in late summer turning a shiny black by late fall. Hardy to minus 15 degrees.

Burkwood gets 6–10 feet tall with an equal spread. It has a loose, open growth with shiny dark green semi-evergreen leaves with dull silver undersides. Very fragrant, dense flower clusters, pink in bud opening to white in mid-spring. Hardy to minus 15 degrees.

Compact European is a smaller variety, getting 4–6 feet tall with an equal spread. It has a compact, rounded, slightly spreading growth habit. Bright apple-green foliage turns maroon red in fall. Small white flowers in rounded clusters in late spring are followed by red berries. Hardy to minus 35 degrees.

Korean Spice grows 5–7 feet tall and wide with a dense, rounded growth habit. The plant has soft gray-green foliage that turns a brilliant red in fall. Extremely fragrant, dome-shaped clusters of white flowers in early spring have a spicy, clove scent. Hardy to minus 25 degrees.

Mohican grows to 6-feet tall by 6–8 feet wide. Compact shrub with heavy, dark green leaves. Creamy white, flat topped flowers cover the plant in late April to early May. Orange-red fruit follow the flowers in early July lasting about a month before turning black in fall. Leaves turn purple-bronze in fall. Good hedge plant. Hardy to minus 35 degrees.

Newport grows 4–5 feet tall by 5-feet wide with a rounded, horizontal growth habit. Dark green, leathery leaves turn burgundy in fall. Small, white flowers in dome-like clusters in spring followed by red fruit turning black in fall. Hardy to minus 15 degrees.

Onondaga grows 6–8 feet tall. Rounded, globe shaped growth habit. New foliage emerges a velvety maroon and matures to a deep green with a purple tint then turning to brilliant maroon-red in fall. Attractive purple flower clusters edged with white ray flowers in late spring. Hardy to minus 25 degrees.

Shoshoni gets to 5–7 feet tall by 6–8 feet wide. Compact, horizontal growth habit. Dark green leaves turn plum-colored in the fall. White clusters of flowers appear in the spring followed by scarlet red fruit that matures to black. Hardy to minus 15 degrees.

Common Snowball grows to 10 feet tall and wide with an upright, fountain-like growth habit. It has spectacular, pure white snowball-like flower clusters in late spring. Bright green foliage turns red in fall. No berries as the flowers are sterile. Hardy to minus 35 degrees.

There are literally dozens more species and varieties. Some can be hard to find, so you may have to do some checking around or be patient to get the one you want.

If you really want fragrance, then you want to go with either Burkwood or Korean Spice viburnums. They both have a wonderful fragrance. I have both in my yard.

Burkwood is very sweet, but the Korean Spice just fills the yard with fragrance. It grows slower than Burkwood and doesn’t get as big, but it is a thicker, denser growing plant.

Dennis Hill is nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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