Viburnum Onondaga

Discover one of the showiest viburnums with strong multi-season interest.

By: Julie A Martens

Plant one of the best plants in the viburnum family by adding Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ to your landscape. This viburnum boasts exceptionally strong multi-season interest, including eye-catching leaves in all seasons, beautiful spring flowers and berries in summer. If you only have room for one viburnum, consider Viburnum ‘Onondaga.’

Botanically, this pretty viburnum is known as Viburnum sargentii ‘Onondaga’ and is sometimes called Onodaga sargent viburnum. It came out of a breeding program at the U.S. National Arboretum in 1966.  Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ brings beauty to any landscape in a plant that deer tend to leave alone.

The flowers on Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ have a form similar to lacecap hydrangea, opening in a flattened cluster roughly five inches across. Individual blooms open from the outer edge of the cluster first, with flower buds in the center opening last. The buds on Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ are maroon, while the flowers are white with pink tints. As the outer buds start opening, the flowers display two colors — maroon buds and white blossoms. The process of having all the buds in the cluster open takes a few weeks, so the flower show on Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ is lusciously long.

Flowers aren’t the only aspect of Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ that’s eye-catching. When new leaves appear, they have a maroon color. As leaves mature, they shift to green, but a maroon tint remains on the leaf centers. The contrasting colors between the new and mature leaves adds another layer of visual interest to Viburnum ‘Onondaga.’ In fall, the leaves shift to red tones that don’t disappoint.

In the landscape, use Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ as a specimen shrub for its outstanding eye appeal. It also makes a beautiful hedge, foundation planting or backdrop for perennial plantings. Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ blends nicely into mixed borders with shrubs and perennials. It’s a great candidate for a wildlife garden, too.

Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ grows 6 to 8 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide. It takes easily to pruning if you need to nip in the sides to help it fit in a planting area. Give plants full sun to part shade for best growth and flowering. If you do need to prune Viburnum ‘Onondaga,’ do so immediately after flowering to avoid removing flower buds that are forming for next year’s show. Viburnum ‘Onondaga’ is hardy in Zones 4 to 7.

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