Stillwater News Press

Garden

February 25, 2012

In the Garden 02-26-12

Gardeners and homeowners probably know of the shrub viburnum, but recognize it under different names. Snowball or cranberry bush, black haw, arrowwood or double-file — there are many species of viburnum whose foliage, flowers and fruit are as varied as the common names. Most are sturdy, cold hardy and forgiving when stressed by heat, inexperience or excessive care. A viburnum planted in an appropriate place requires very little attention for it to thrive.

What I call the B viburnums are similar in many ways so I often forget which is which. V. x bodnantense and V. x burkwoodii are hybrid deciduous shrubs whose parentage originated in the Far East. They bloom in late winter with small clusters of very fragrant flowers.

Bodnant viburnum begins the parade with small, deep pink flower clusters that fade to pale. It begins blooming in mid-winter and is particularly pleasing in mild winters like this one. Unpruned, its most common cultivar ‘Dawn’ reaches 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Growth is relatively slow, so it is not difficult to keep size in check.

Burkwood is about the same size, but can be evergreen in warm areas. ‘Mohawk,’ the most widely offered variety, begins blooming just about the time ‘Dawn’ finishes. Dark red buds slowly plump to pink and open to white 4-inch spheres.

These two viburnums should be placed where they will get morning or evening sun. Six hours of light and annual applications of rock-phosphate or spring and fall sprinklings of bone meal will ensure they have the right stuff to bloom. Round out nutrients for optimal health by side dressing the shrub with cottonseed meal and Epsom salts when the leaves begin to emerge in spring.

LeeAnn Barton, Stillwater, can be emailed at leeannbarton@sbcglobal.net.

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