Doublefile Viburnums (Viburnum plicatum tomentosum)
Viburnums (vi-BUR-nums) are lovely flowering shrubs that are very easy to grow. Many kinds are known and most offer ornamental interest in residential yards and gardens almost year round. They boast showy blossoms, berries and interesting leaves. Both sturdy and elegant, they have few insect problems and tolerate salt spray. Doublefile viburnums (Viburnum plicatum tomentosum) are one of the best viburnums to plant in a home landscape.
Size: Doublefile viburnums are from 9 to 12 feet high. Their flat, horizontal branches typically spread as wide as the shrub is tall.
Foliage: Doublefile viburnum leaves are dark green, thick and leathery, with prominent veins. They are somewhat egg-shaped, about 4 inches long and half as wide. The leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stems. In fall doublefile viburnums display perhaps the most beautiful foliage colors of all the viburnums, turning shades of purplish to bronzy red. Doublefile viburnums are deciduous; their leaves drop off over the winter.
Flowers and Berries: From late May to mid-June, doublefile viburnums are nearly covered with large, flat "lace cap" clusters of flowers, creating a spectacular effect. Small, white open florets in each cluster ring tiny, bud-like ones that are cream-colored. The 7 to 8-inch diameter clusters appear in 2 symmetrical opposite rows along the stems, giving doublefile viburnum its name. In mid- to late summer, the inner flowers give way to bright red fruits, which turn black after 3 or 4 weeks. Birds are very fond of them. The type of doublefile viburnum called `Sterile' has large round "snowball" blooms, in the characteristic double rows.
Doublefile Viburnum Choices
`Mariesii' is one of the most popular varieties of doublefile viburnum, having the largest flowers and most attractive fruit. `Roseum' is pink and has round flower clusters. `Shasta' is an award winner for its copious flowers and smaller 6-foot height. `Sterile' (also called Japanese snowball) has white round flower clusters.
For more information see file on Selecting Shrubs
Using Doublefile Viburnum
Doublefile viburnums are upright shrubs with nearly horizontal branches. Because they grow so tall and wide, they look best planted in the open, away from walls. They are especially attractive in a row of shrubs along a property boundary, where they attract many birds when their berries ripen in the fall. Plant them in front of evergreens such as hemlocks or spruces, which provide a handsome backdrop for the white masses of flowers and the red bunches of fruit.
Cutting For Indoor Display: Cut branches of doublefile 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 commercial cut flower conditioner. Split or crush stems ends to help them take up water. They'll last 5 to 7 days. For more information see the files on Keeping Cut Flowers and Cut Flower Supplies
Planting Doublefile Viburnums
The Right Place
Doublefile viburnums are hardy in all but the coldest parts of the U.S., tolerating winters as far north as the Great Lakes and along the Atlantic coast into New England (zone 4). Extremely adaptable, they also grow in our warmest areas, such as southern Florida and Hawaii, where temperatures seldom dip below 30° F (zone 10).
Doublefile 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 acidic (pH 6.0 to 7.5), but they tolerate almost any soil as long as it is slightly moist.