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Dallas Morning News - June 25, 2020

Evergreen Viburnum


There are many excellent viburnums for us in Texas, but there's one to highlight today because it definitely should be used more. It is sold as Viburnum odoratissimum.


Evergreen Viburnum (Vibrunum odoratissimum or V. japonicum)


Problem is that also sold as Viburnum japonicum 'Macrophyllum' or Large-Leaved Viburnum. It's also sometimes sold as Viburnum macrophyllum – and - Viburnum odoratissimum, var Awabuki or Awabuki viburnum. Your head starting to spin?


The plant sometime sold under these names is sometimes called sweet viburnum in some publications and is said to have rough textured leaves, larger flowers and strong fragrance. That's not the plant I’m talking about. The viburnum recommendation today has large, long, glossy, thick leaves. The flowers are small and insignificant if present at all. This evergreen viburnum has the shiniest leaves of any of the choices and looks great year round.


It's a beautiful evergreen for sun or shade and can grow to a height of 10 feet or more. It has upright growth on thick stems and the large glossy leaves turn a slight bronze color in fall. It is bushy, but can be trimmed into a tree form.


Evergreen viburnum is easy to grow well-prepared, well-drained beds and has moderate water and food needs. It has few if any pest problems unless planted too deeply in the soil.


Evergreen viburnum cut foliage in water outdoors

Evergreen viburnum cut foliage indoors


It can be used as a specimen, a screen or a background planting. Foliage is wonderful cut-flower material. It is long lasting—in fact, it will easily root in water. That last statement has been in my books and website entries for a long time – but I haven't made near enough of a big deal how important this feature is. Cut foliage of this evergreen viburnum is beautiful in vases with water, by itself or mixed with other foliage and flowers.


And this cut foliage lasts longer than any plant I've ever used. As casually mentioned before, it will actually root in water if given enough light.


How to make sure of buying the right plant? It's a "buyer beware" situation for sure. Look for those big, thick shinny leaves and basically ignore the plant tag ID in many cases. Good luck – it's worth the effort.


Leatherleaf or rough-leaf viburnum is another good choice and doesn't have the name confusion. It is Viburnum rhytidophyllum. It is also evergreen but completely different that the above-mentioned evergreen viburnum.


Leatherleaf viburnum in bloom

Leatherleaf viburnum in fruit


It has very long leathery, wrinkled leaves that are dark green above, pale fuzzy gray to brownish below and droop from their stems. Leaves have deeply etched veins that give the foliage a coarse appearance. It also has mildly fragrant, creamy white flower clusters. Red berries follow flowers and last into the winter, eventually turning black.


There are other good viburnums to try but these are two of my favorites.





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