Cranberry Viburnum (Viburnum opulus)
Viburnums are very easy to grow. Most offer something for every season--blossoms, berries and interesting leaves. European cranberry bush viburnums are among the best viburnums to plant in a home landscape. They are sturdy and self-reliant, tolerating considerable air pollution. Their berries are beloved by many kinds of birds.
Size: European cranberry bush viburnums are large shrubs that grow from 10 to 15 feet high and equally as wide.
Foliage: European cranberry bush leaves are dark green and have 3 to 5 lobes, resembling maple leaves. Their undersides are slightly hairy. Two to four inches long and similarly wide, leaves are arranged in pairs opposite each other along shrub stems. In fall cranberry bush viburnums often display attractive leaf color in with shades of purplish red and yellow. These leaves fall off in the winter.
Flowers and Fruit: From late May to mid-June European cranberry bush viburnums are virtually covered with flat clusters of white flowers. Tiny bud-like blooms are ringed by a row of open florets. Each cluster is 3 to 5 inches in diameter, creating a spectacular effect. They have no scent. In late August or early September, the inner flowers give way to abundant drooping clusters of bright red berries that resemble tiny cranberries. Unfortunately, the berries have an unpleasant smell. These berries turn black and become raisin-like during the winter. Some forms of European cranberry bush, called European snowball viburnum, have white snowball type flowers.
Cranberry Viburnum Choices
`Compactum': About 1/2 the size of typical viburnum shrubs. Excellent choice where space is limited. Extremely dense-growing, with abundant flowers and fruit. `Nanum': Though it neither flowers nor produces fruit, it makes a good low hedge. Grows only about 2 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. Does not tolerate poorly drained soils and in wet weather can develop leaf spot. `Roseum' (European Snowball): White, 2 1/2- to 3-inch-diameter, globe-shaped flower clusters. Because the flowers are sterile, they do not form berries.
For more information see file on Selecting Shrubs.
Planting Cranberry Viburnum
The Right Place
European cranberry bush viburnums thrive in most of the U.S. (zones 3 to 8). However, they do not survive in the very coldest regions where temperatures dip below -30° to -40° F., or in and our warmest areas, such as Florida and southern Texas.
European cranberry bush viburnums grow best in full sun, but accept up to 2 or 3 hours of light to medium shade daily. They prefer a well-drained soil that is slightly acidic (pH range 6.0 to 7.5), but they tolerate almost any soil as long as it's kept slightly moist.
Using Cranberry Viburnum
European Cranberry bush viburnums are upright, multi-stemmed shrubs with arching branches that give a mounded appearance. Because they grow so tall and wide, they look best planted away from the walls of buildings. They are especially attractive in a row of shrubs along a property boundary, where they attract many birds in the fall when the berries ripen. Cranberry bushes may also be planted next to evergreens such as hemlocks or spruces, which make handsome backdrops for the white flowers and red berries of the viburnum.
Cutting For Inside Display: Cut stems of European cranberry bush viburnum flowers for indoor arrangements just as the blossoms begin to open. Promptly put the stems into warm water laced with a citrus-based carbonated soda (non-diet) or a commercial cut flower conditioner. Split or crush stem ends to help them take up water. They will last 5 to 7 days. They have a lovely fragrance. For more information see the files on Keeping Cut Flowers and Cut Flower Supplies