Viburnum Burkwoodii

Plant a burkwood viburnum to savor its intense springtime floral perfume.

By: Julie A Martens

Plan to take walks in your garden in early May when you include Viburnum burkwoodii on the planting list. That’s the time of year this viburnum shrub bursts into flower, opening blossoms redolent with intoxicating perfume. Listed in the botanical books as Viburnum x burkwoodii, this pretty shrub dates to 1924. Leaves remain evergreen in warmest areas where it grows. One variety, Viburnum ‘Mohawk,’ has an even more intense fragrance.

Viburnum burkwoodii is an easy plant to work into a landscape. It tends to grow with a dense branching pattern, which makes it an ideal shrub for birds, providing nesting and resting sites. When the flowers open in mid-spring, they serve as a great pollen source for insects of all types. Considering these aspects, one of the first ways to use Viburnum burkwoodii in a landscape is as part of a wildlife garden.

This spring bloomer also makes a great hedge or foundation planting. If you’re handy with pruners, you can clip Viburnum burkwoodii into a single stem plant so that it resembles a small tree. Viburnum burkwoodii usually grows 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. It’s hardy in Zones 5 to 8, with the leaves staying evergreen year-round in warmest zones.

For the best flower show, plant Viburnum burkwoodii in a sunny spot with well-drained soil and consistent moisture. The shrub is versatile, though, and adapts to part shade and dry soil, although in these conditions, the flower show isn’t as strong. Viburnum burkwoodii is a low maintenance shrub, but if you need to prune for any reason, do so immediately after flowering. This helps ensure you’ll have a strong flower show the next year.

Viburnum ‘Mohawk’ is a variety of Viburnum burkwoodii introduced in 1966. It grows to a smaller size than its parent, reaching 8 feet tall. Its flower buds offer a deep red color before opening to reveal white blooms. The red buds bring another dimension of interest to the spring landscape. Viburnum ‘Mohawk’ also has a stronger fragrance with more spicy tones of clove.

In regions where Viburnum burkwoodii isn’ evergreen, fall color features a wine red hue. On Viburnum ‘Mohawk,’ the fall color is brighter, with leaves changing from green to orangey-red and burgundy.

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