Dwarf Viburnum

Fall in love with compact versions of your favorite viburnums.

By: Julie A Martens

Floral combination in springtime: Compact Koreanspice viburnum shrub (binomial name: Viburnum carlesii 'Compactum') above a clump of Binkie large-cupped daffodils (Narcissus 'Binkie') in a Midwestern garden in the first week of May

Photo by: Kenneth Schulze

Kenneth Schulze

Make room for viburnums, no matter how large — or small — your yard is. Dwarf viburnums bring the beauty of their full-size siblings in sizes suitable for even the smallest urban yard. A few classic dwarf viburnums include dwarf European cranberrybush viburnum, dwarf Korean spice viburnum and ‘Blue Muffin’ viburnum. Dwarf Viburnum farreri and dwarf Viburnum obovatum are a few more dwarf viburnums worth exploring.

Some of the most beloved viburnums are the fragrant ones that flower in early spring. Korean spice viburnum is a treasured scent in spring gardens. When space is tight, consider dwarf Korean spice viburnum, Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum.’ This shrub grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide and opens blossoms packed with clove scent. Red buds burst to reveal pink blooms that fade to white. Dwarf Korean spice viburnum can be hard to find. If you spy one, it’s best to buy it.

Dwarf European cranberrybush viburnum is Viburnum opulus ‘Nanum.’ This shrub grows 18 to 24 inches tall and 36 inches wide. It has the same eye-catching leaves as the full size version, but this dwarf viburnum doesn’t bloom or produce fruit. It’s a good choice for a small viburnum hedge, like along a walkway or drive.

Dwarf American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum ‘Compactum’) might not sound too small, growing 6 feet tall and wide. But compared to the full size version, which reaches 8 to 10 feet tall and wide, it is a miniature version. The American cranberrybush dwarf viburnum produces flowers, fruit and good fall leaf color.

‘Blue Muffin’ viburnum, or Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin,’ grows 5 to 6 feet tall, compared to a full size plant at 8 to 10 feet. ‘Blue Muffin’ viburnum blooms in spring and ripens a heavy crop of blue-black fruit. A dwarf Viburnum obovatum is the variety ‘Reifler’s Dwarf.’ It grows 4 to 5 feet tall, instead of a full size 10- to 12-foot version. Like the full size version, dwarf Viburnum obovatum is evergreen and makes a great hedge — without constant pruning.

Don’t overlook dwarf Viburnum farreri ‘Nanum’, which brings sweet spring fragrance in a compact plant. This beauty grows 3 feet tall and wide, and it offers perfumed blooms, eye-catching fruit and good fall color. Plant it in groupings for the best effect.

Other great dwarf viburnums include dwarf Walter’s viburnum, which is sold as Viburnum obovatum ‘Densa,’ and has terrific multi-season interest. ‘Popcorn’ viburnum, which is a dwarf Japanese snowball bush (Viburnum plicatum ‘Popcorn’), is another can’t-miss choice for a strong flower show.

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