April showers bring May flowers, and that can come in the form of flowers on a large shrub. Viburnums are great flowering shrubs that give season long interest even after the flowers are gone.
Wayfaring tree viburnum, Viburnum lantana, is a great viburnum selection for Nebraska. It is a large shrub, growing up to 15-20 feet tall and wide with white, non-fragrant flowers in May. The flowers are borne in a 3-5 inch cyme, which is basically a flat-topped grouping of many smaller flowers. The leaves are 2-5 inches long, 1.5-4 inches wide, leathery textured with pubescence on the top. The small, round berries start out yellow, turn red and eventually black and are not edible. The berries are held in clusters throughout the shrub. In the fall, you can find clusters with all 3 colors on them at once.
There is a compact variety of Wayfaring tree viburnum, the variety ‘Mohican’ which only grows up to 8 feet tall and wide and is resistant to bacterial leaf spot and has orange to red to black fruit that lasts up to 4 weeks on the shrub. ‘Variegatum’ is a variegated variety that has yellow-variegation to the leaves. There is also a selection called ‘Macrophyllum’ that has larger leaves and much larger inflorescence. The flowers have been listed as big as 8 inches across, according to Michael Dirr.
Wayfaring tree viburnum can grow in many locations. It will grow in sun to part shade and will withstand drought conditions. This viburnum, however, does not tolerate standing water. It is easily propagated from cuttings and from seed. It is used as a specimen shrub, as a hedge or screen, and it is often used in parking lots. This is a spring blooming shrub, so any pruning needs to be completed after blooming in May.
Viburnum lantana is a great shrub for pollinators as it attracts birds and butterflies. According to Michael Dirr, there are no serious issues with this plant. Powdery mildew may occur, but this is likely due to the plant being put in heavy shade rather than just part shade.
Viburnums are great shrubs for your landscape. There are so many to choose from, but wayfaring tree viburnum is a great choice. The look of the leathery leaves that last into the fall give you a very interesting piece to any landscape. The fall color is not reliable but can be a purplish red color and the berries will last into the fall months as well leaving you with a long season of interest. This is not one of the more fragrant viburnums, but it is still beautiful and interesting for any landscape. The size will also make it a great choice for a screen or hedge. So the next time you are looking for a large shrub, look at Wayfaring Tree Viburnum.