Viburnum Carlcephalum

Fill your yard with a burst of spicy spring perfume with fragrant snowball.

By: Julie A Martens

Spice up spring with fragrant viburnums like Viburnum carlcephalum. Known as the fragrant snowball, Viburnum carlcephalum opens flowers in round heads that are clusters of many tiny blooms. The flowers appear in late spring, filling the air with a spicy clove scent. One variety, Cayuga viburnum (Viburnum ‘Cayuga’), opens the largest number of flowers per plant.

In the viburnum family, several shrubs burst onto spring scenes with rich perfume. Viburnum carlcephalum falls into that group. Its common name, fragrant snowball, hints at its richly scented blooms. Viburnum carlcephalum flowers toward the end of spring. It’s actually the last of the fragrant viburnum shrubs to bloom, which perfectly times to add a burst of perfume to a late spring bulb show.

Viburnum carlcephalum is hardy in Zones 6 to 8, which makes it a great candidate for gardens from Ohio and Central Pennsylvania to the Middle South. This viburnum shrub has a more open growth habit. This means that when those round-headed flowers appear, they stage quite a show with high visibility. Plants grow 6 to 10 feet tall and wide.

Use Viburnum carlcephalum as part of a foundation planting near an entry way or sun porch, where you can catch whiffs of the floral perfume. Or use Viburnum carlcephalum to create a hedge or form a backdrop for perennials or spring bulbs. It’s also a good choice for a shrub border, because it introduces strong seasonal interest.

Cayuga viburnum is the result of a cross between Viburnum carlesii and Viburnum macrocephalum f. keteleeri. The resulting plant, Viburnum ‘Cayuga,’ opens large flower heads 5 inches across. Each flower head contains 100 individual blossoms, which start as pink buds that open to white blooms. Cayuga viburnum tends to reach a smaller size, growing four to eight feet tall.

Both Viburnum carlcephalum and Viburnum ‘Cayuga’ grow in full sun to part shade. Viburnum carlcephalum has the better drought tolerance of the two, while Viburnum ‘Cayuga’ has greater winter hardiness, surviving to Zone 5. Fall color varies from reddish-purple in Viburnum carlcephalum to gold in Viburnum ‘Cayuga.’

If you love the scented spring viburnums, you won’t go wrong planting one of each of these shrubs. Their eye-catching flowers and wafting fragrances are welcome additions to any landscape.

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