Viburnum Bodnantense

Wrap up winter with a burst of colorful blooms packed with fragrance.

By: Julie A Martens

frost resistant and sweetly scented pink flowers of Viburnum x bodnantense Dawn, a winter flowering shrub, against blue sky

Photo by: Gabriela Froehlich

Gabriela Froehlich

Welcome spring with the warm, fragrant blooms of Viburnum bodnantense, which is often listed and sold as Viburnum x bodnantense. This viburnum shrub is a must-have for an early spring pick-me-up. Before much else is flowering, reddish-pink buds swell and burst open to reveal pretty pink blooms. A cluster of flowers forms a rounded blossom that kicks off spring with a splash of color.

The flowers on Viburnum bodnantense appear before leaves, giving the blossoms center stage. These lovely blushing blooms release a fragrance that blends lilac and sweet vanilla. In parts of the Pacific Northwest, Viburnum bodnantense has become a sought-after landscape plant for early season color, pairing up with the long time favored witch hazel.

Viburnum bodnantense captures the beauty of spring in a shrub that’s fuss free and undemanding. Plants hold their own in full to part shade, although you’ll get the best flowering and greatest number of blooms when you tuck Viburnum bodnantense into a sunny spot. Once established, the shrubs are drought tolerant, but occasional watering results in a stronger flower show.

The leaves on Viburnum x bodnantense have three strong veins that create a striking pattern. Leaf color tends toward a bronzy green that’s unusual enough to hold its own among showy summer blooming shrubs. In fall, Viburnum bodnantense makes a subtle contribution to the autumn show as its leaves turn shades of bronzy red.

Leaf to its own devices, Viburnum bodnantense forms a multi-stemmed shrub, but you can prune it to create a single stemmed tree-like plant. Most Viburnum bodnantense shrubs don’t need pruning. If you decide to take your loppers to the plant, do so immediately after flowering and right before leaves appear.

The flowers aren’t the only thing on Viburnum bodnantense that offers a scent. The leaves, when crushed, release a citrusy fragrance. It’s not overbearing or strongly sweet, but it is present. If you plan to add Viburnum x bodnantense to your landscape, save up so you can buy the largest plant you can find. This is especially important if you want to enjoy a striking flower show without waiting a few years for the plant to mature.

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