Content Detail

Fragrant viburnum is an old-fashioned shrub grown for its intensely fragrant, pinkish-white flowers in early spring. The 4 inch long leaves emerge bronzy-green changing to dark green. Fall color is a reddish-purple. Plants tend to be leggy and best in a mixed border where smaller plants can mask the bare stems.

  • Family (English) Elderberry
  • Family (botanic) Adoxaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Pink, White
  • Shape or form Narrow, Upright, Vase-shaped
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow

Size & Form:

Fragrant viburnum is often a leggy, vase-shaped shrub reaching 8 to 12 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

This shrub is native to China in mountainous areas.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are opposite, elliptical and corrugated (pleated) with 5 to 6 raised veins. New leaves emerge bronzy-red, maturing to dark green, and with a reddish-purple in the fall. Petioles are red and smell like green pepper when crushed.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are sweet, intensely fragrant clusters of pinkish-red buds opening to 1 to 2 inch white flower panicles. Late spring freezes can kill flower buds.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Red fruits appear in fall but are sparse.

Plant care:

Grows best in full sun to part shade in a protected site. Winter winds can cause tip dieback. It is soil pH adaptable but requires good drainage. Mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperature. Since it flowers on old wood, prune immediately after flowering.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

If not protected, this plant will suffer from stem dieback under exposed conditions.

White fragrant viburnum (Viburnum farreri ‘Alba’):

This cultivar is an upright shrub, 8 to 10 feet high, with white flowers.

Dwarf fragrant viburnum (Viburnum farreri ‘Nanum’):

This shrub has a dense, compact habit growing 3 to 4 feet high and wide with pink flowers.



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