Fragrant viburnum is an old-fashioned shrub grown for its highly sweet, pinkish-white flowers in early spring. The 4-inch long leaves emerge bronzy-green changing to dark green. Fall color is a reddish purple. Plants tend to be leggy and best in a mixed borer where smaller plants can mask the bare stems.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Mixed border,
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest:
- Early spring,
- Mid spring
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size & Form
Often an unkempt, leggy, vase-shaped shrub reaching 8 to 12 feet high and wide
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun to part shade in a protected site. Winter winds can cause tip dieback.
Soil pH adaptable but requires good drainage.
Mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperature.
Flowers on old wood, prune after flowering
Disease, pests, and problems
If not protected, this plant will suffer from stem dieback under exposed conditions.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to China in mountainous areas
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Opposite, elliptical corrugated (pleated) leaves with 5 to 6 raised veins.
New leaves emerge bronzy-red, matures to dark green, and then reddish purple fall color.
Petioles are red and smell like green pepper when crushed.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Extremely sweet fragrant clusters of pinkish-red buds opening to 1 to 2 inch white flower panicles
Late spring freezes can kill flower buds.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Red fruits appear in fall but sparse.
Cultivars and their differences
White fragrant viburnum (Viburnum farreri 'Alba'): Upright, 8 to 10 feet high, white flowers
Dwarf fragrant viburnum (Viburnum farreri 'Nanum'): Dense, compact habit 3 to 4 feet high and wide; pink flowers