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Chinese snowball viburnum

One of my favorite groups of plants is the genus Viburnum.  This group of plants includes natives and plants there were introduced to America from Asia, as well as many cultivars. The group includes around 150 species, with the many cultivars bumping that number even higher. There are deciduous and evergreens and sizes range from around 3’ up to 30+ feet in height. They bring color and texture to the garden and many serve as host plants for butterfly larvae and provide berries that attract birds and mammals to the garden. Most have little to no serious insect or disease problems making them an excellent plant for the garden.

Leatherleaf Viburnum, though not a native, is one that is at the top of my list. It is an evergreen with coarse texture. It has dark lustrous leathery leaves that are hairy and gray to brownish on the bottom of the leaf. The leaf is one you need to touch to feel the wonderful rough texture of the upper leaf surface. Because of this, it is often used in sensory gardens.

The Judd viburnum is a hybrid cross that is deciduous with a full, rounded habit with a mature height of 6-8’. This plant has the most wonderful fragrant flowers in early spring. At my home in Virginia, I had this planted outside my bedroom window so the scent could float into the room when it was blooming.

Chinese Snowball viburnum is a popular viburnum for its showy snowball-like flowers that are 3-8” in diameter and appear in May-June. Here in Southern Piedmont, this plant is usually semi-evergreen. Though the flowers are not fragrant, the plant can be a show-stopper when it is covered in bloom.

Chindo viburnum is an evergreen introduced by J. C. Raulston that he discovered in a schoolyard on Chindo Island, Korea. I have recently planted five of these in my garden to provide screening from the street. They seem to be relatively fast growers and can reach up to 20’ tall. The leaves remind me of a smaller version of magnolia leaves but are softer to the touch. Once my plants are bigger, I look forward to using the greenery for holiday decorations.

This is just a few of the many species of Viburnum that are available at local garden centers and nurseries. To learn more about the many Viburnums, visit the NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.