Growing Plants

Viburnum for Shade: Explore the Beauty of Shade-Loving Shrubs

Are you looking for a beautiful and low-maintenance plant for your shady garden? Consider viburnum!

With their attractive foliage and lovely blooms, viburnums can add a touch of elegance to any corner of your yard. 

Most people think this tropical evergreen tree only survives in full sun, but many of its varieties are also shade-loving.

In this article, I will explore the different types of viburnum for shade and provide you with tips on how to care for them.

An Introduction To Viburnum

viburnum for shade

If you are new to this plant, viburnum is a genus of flowering shrubs belonging to the Adoxaceae family.

It is known for its dark green leaves and clusters of flowers that bloom in a wide range of colors, including pink, white, and red.

In addition to their beautiful appearance, viburnum shrubs are also valued for their sweet, fruity fragrance, which fills the air with a delightful scent.

There are over 150 species of viburnum, and they can be found across the world in various habitats, from woodlands to mountainsides.

Some popular species include the snowball bush, the arrowwood viburnum, and the cinnamon bush.

As mentioned, these shrubs require little maintenance. They are versatile and can thrive in different conditions, so I would recommend them to both novice and experienced gardeners.

Whether you’re looking to add some color and fragrance to your garden or simply want to enjoy the beauty of plants, viburnum is an excellent choice.

Top 16 Viburnum For Shade

Some of the best viburnum for shade are arrowwood viburnum, blackhaw viburnum, and mapleleaf viburnum. Aside from this trio, many other varieties can also thrive in shade and partial shade, but they are not as popular.

Though being a garden classic, many plant enthusiasts with a shady garden tend to avoid viburnum.

What people don’t know is that, as long as they choose the right species, these lovely shrubs will flourish as much as they do in full sun.

Below, I put together a list of all the viburnums for shade. Read on and pick the one you like most! 

Blackhaw Viburnum

Blackhaw viburnum is a deciduous shrub native to North America. Unlike many viburnum varieties, this plant prefers dry soils and shady areas.

Though this variety is quite hardy, it is prone to root rot, so you should check the plant’s air circulation frequently and avoid overwatering.

As spring comes, blackhaw viburnum adds a touch of elegance to its surroundings with white lace-cap flowers. From late summer to mid-autumn, it bears black fruits that can be used to make jams, sauces, or jellies.

European Cranberrybush Viburnum

Being a full sun and partial shade lover, European Cranberrybush Viburnum is one of the best choices if you are seeking a viburnum shade.

Among all the popular viburnum varieties, cranberrybush viburnum has the most ornamental value, producing clusters of small white flowers in the spring and bright red berries in the fall.

As autumn comes, this plant also showcases the most colorful fall foliage.

Arrowwood Viburnum

Also known as viburnum dentatum, arrowwood viburnum is the best native shrub for shady spots.

Not only can it thrive in both full sun and partial shade, but this versatile plant is also adaptable to many soil types, from moist, well-drained soil to a slightly acidic one.

This hardy plant is one of the early spring white flowering trees. It produces clusters of white flowers, followed by blue-black berries in the summer that are birds’ favorite.

Whether used as a border, hedge, or standalone accent piece, it will be a great addition to your landscape.

Just remember to give it plenty of room – an arrowwood viburnum may reach up to 15 ft tall!

Burkwood Viburnum

Another shade tolerant viburnum is the burkwood variety. This lovely shrub is native to China and was introduced to the United States in the 1920s.

Burkwood viburnum grows well in full sun and partial shade, and its ability to produce fruits won’t be affected in shady areas.

Burkwood viburnum features glossy, dark green leaves that are oval in shape, but its most notable feature is the fragrant flowers in spring.

These pinkish-white flowers grow in clusters that can reach up to 4 inches wide. Their scent is sweet and pleasing, making them a popular choice for cut flowers and floral arrangements.

Cinnamon Viburnum

Also known as viburnum cinnamomifolium, this variety got its name because its leaves are similar to those of the cinnamon tree.

Cinnamon viburnum likes both full sun and partial shade and thrives in slightly acid soil. Alkaline soil may affect the plant’s ability to produce flowers.

Like other species of viburnum, cinnamomifolium’s blooming season is spring. Its white flowers, however, are not as impressive as the large, deeply-veined leaves.

These leaves emerge soft green in early spring and turn into a deeper shade when summer comes, breathing a sense of vitality into your garden.

Doublefile Viburnum

Another lesser-known shade tolerant viburnum variety is doublefile viburnum.

Being one of the most hardy understory plants, this deciduous shrub is medium-sized and produces white spring flowers from March to late April. 

Its dark green leaves turn into the most stunning burgundy shade in October, making the plant a perfect addition to your autumn landscape.

A notable feature of this deciduous viburnum is versatility: The shrub can grow in various types of soil. It likes consistent moisture, but once it is mature, the plant can withstand drier conditions.

Eatherleaf Viburnum

Eatherleaf is one of my favorite species of viburnum due to its creamy white blooms in spring.

If you own a shady backyard but fall in love with eatherleaf viburnum’s lovely flowers, here is the good news: This non-native plant grows well in moist shade.

However, if you live in mountain regions or areas with colder climates, this variety is not a good choice. Under harsh weather conditions, the plant can lose its leaves in the fall and suffer from dieback in the late winter.

Korean Spice Viburnum

evergreen viburnum for shade

As a diminutive variety of evergreen viburnum for shade, Korean Spice stands out for the white-pinkish flowers that emit a spiced scent.

Although it doesn’t feature fall foliage in the autumn, its edible fruits have a vibrant red color that will light up your landscape.

Gardeners often choose to plant this viburnum near living areas and windows for its delightful scent.

Laurustinus Viburnum

The laurustinus viburnum features similar leaves to the bay laurel, hence the name. Native to the Mediterranean region, this beautiful shrub can bloom even in the winter.

A mature laurustinus viburnum may grow up to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide, making it a to-go option for hedges or privacy screens.

Mapleleaf Viburnum

Finding a viburnum for deep shade is challenging but not impossible.

Being the hardiest viburnum species, mapleleaf viburnum can tolerate both dry shade and moist shade. With its compact size (only 6-8ft when mature), this variety is ideal for small spaces.

As its name states, mapleleaf viburnum features stunning fall foliage, with leaf colors changing from rosy pink to reddish purple.

Nannyberry Viburnum

Nannyberry viburnum is often found in moist areas with clay-loam soil. Though relatively shade tolerant, this variety can achieve larger sizes with more sun exposure.

In late August, the Nannyberry Viburnum produces creamy white flowers that transform into blue-black, berry-like drupes.

These fruits are edible but can have a wet wool odor when decomposed. They make a great treat for a variety of bird species.

Sandanqua Viburnum

This evergreen viburnum for shade comes from Okinawa and other Japanese islands. In Florida and other places with mild winters, sandanqua is a common landscaping choice and can grow up to 12 feet if not trimmed. 

It can grow well in moist, organic-rich soil with various daylight conditions, from full sun to partial shade.

To control fast-growing shoots, it is recommended to prune the shrub in the early spring and late summer.

Siebold Viburnum

Siebold viburnum is a shrub that thrives in various types of soil, as long as it is well-drained and consistently moist.

The plant can thrive in full sun or partial shade and should be pruned right after its flowering period.

Siebold viburnum prefers cooler climates and is not recommended for planting in areas with hot summers.

Snowball Bush

While most people believe that the snowball bush can only survive in full sunlight exposure, it actually prefers shady spots.

Also known as Viburnum opulus’ Roseum,’ this popular ornamental shrub is native to Europe and Northern Asia.

The snowball bush produces beautiful, large white flower clusters that resemble fluffy snowballs, hence the name. These flowers appear in late spring and are followed by bright red berries in the fall.

Tubeflower Viburnum

The stunning tubeflower has become increasingly popular among gardeners in recent years. It produces fragrant, tube-shaped flowers that come in a creamy white color.

Although shade-tolerant, this plant can grow better in full sun, reaching a maximum height of 15 feet. Since it is one of the larger viburnum species, ensure you have plenty of space if you want to bring it to your garden.

Wayfaring Tree

A more compact choice for your shaded spot is a wayfaring tree (or viburnum lantana).

You can recognize this variety from its unique blooms: Tiny, five-petalled flowers come together to form a large, aromatic flowerhead.

Its vibrant berries, while beautiful, are not edible. Eating them can lead to food poisoning, diarrhea, and vomiting.


best viburnum for shade

Does Viburnum Need Full Sun?

This depends on the type of viburnum you choose. Some varieties can only thrive in full sun, while others prefer partial to full shade.

How To Care For Viburnum?

To care for viburnum, make sure it is planted in suitable soil. Water it regularly, especially during dry spells, and fertilize it in the spring (flowering period) with a balanced fertilizer.

How Long Does Viburnum Take To Grow?

The growth rate of Viburnum can vary depending on the species and growing conditions. Typically, Viburnum shrubs can grow anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet per year.

The Bottom Line

Viburnum can be an excellent choice for shade gardens, as many varieties do well in partial to full shade.

With their attractive foliage, beautiful flowers, and potential for growth, the viburnum for shade will add some elegance and natural beauty to any shaded area.

Even though most of them are pretty hardy, don’t forget to provide them with proper care and maintenance. That will help them thrive and provide enjoyment for years to come.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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