Viburnum Odoratissimum

Meet an evergreen viburnum with intense spring fragrance.

By: Julie A Martens

Get in some evergreen viburnum action with good-looking viburnum odaratissimum. This beauty is a Southern favorite, where it’s often planted to form a Viburnum odoratissimum hedge. In spring, small flowers release a big fragrance that’s sweet and refreshing. One variety, Viburnum odoratissimum ‘Awabuki,’ packages the evergreen beauty and sweet aroma in a smaller plant.

In warmest areas of the country, Viburnum odoratissimum is a favorite landscape plant. Its evergreen leaves add year-round color to plantings. As a whole, Viburnum odoratissimum is pest- and problem-free, a low-maintenance gardener’s dream. This viburnum shrub adapts to sun or part shade and definitely benefits from some afternoon shade in hottest parts of its range.

Left to its own devices, Viburnum odoratissimum forms a tall shrub to small tree to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide. In lower light, the plant gets a little more scraggly and open, but in full sun settings, it forms a lush, full canopy. Many gardeners opt to remove branches closer to the ground to shift Viburnum odoratissimum into a tree form. This creates a lovely small tree that fills the spring landscape with wonderful fragrance.

Viburnum odoratissimum has a tight branching pattern that makes it a plant of choice for creating privacy screens and hedges. It takes well to pruning and can be pruned into narrow shapes to edge a patio or screen a walk. As a hedge, Viburnum odoratissimum is known for its ability to create an impenetrable mass. A Viburnum odoratissimum hedge is often used to separate neighborhoods and traffic areas in places like Florida. To form a thick Viburnum odoratissimum hedge, place plants 5 feet apart from the center of one plant to the center of the adjacent plant.

Viburnum odoratissimum is native to Asia from the Himalayas to Japan. In the United States, it’s frequently planted across the South and in Texas and Florida. Winter hardy in Zones 7 to 9, plants may lose their leaves in winter at the northernmost edges of the range.

One of the varieties, Viburnum odoratissimum ‘Awabuki,’ grows to a slightly smaller size of 12 feet high and has highly glossy leaves that are very eye-catching in the landscape. It’s native to Japan and Taiwan.

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