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Viburnum davidii – Growing tips, cultivation and planting information

Last updated on January 24th, 2022

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Viburnum davidii – Has been awarded an ‘RHS Award of Garden Merit’

This hardy evergreen shrub originates from western China and is unlike most other varieties of Viburnum. It provides a profusion of small white flowers upon tall stems from the early spring to summer. The flowers last for long periods of time and will handle the worst of the spring weather. The clusters of white flowers are followed by small metallic blue fruits (non-edible) which are the real eye-catcher for the beautiful plant. The attractive oval-shaped fruits last from Autumn into the winter providing winter colour.

The long leathery leaves are dark green and usually quite large at around 4″ long and have three veins running lengthways down the leaf. Being evergreen it provides all year round colour and provides a nice backdrop of colour if planted towards the back of a border with perennials planted at the front.

It grows to approximately 150cm (5ft) tall by around 150cm (5ft) wide and forms a nice neat dome shape. It makes an excellent groundcover shrub which will help to suppress weeds. They are commonly planted in groups to form groundcover and just need trimming to keep them to your desired shape and size.

Viburnum davidii produce white flowers in summer

Viburnum davidii – source:

Male and Female Viburnum davidii

Viburnum davidii is dioecious and this means that there are both male and female plants but unfortunately, there is no way to know which one is which except for the flower. To ensure you get one that can produce berries it would be best advised to visit a local nursery or garden centre and purchase them when they are in fruit. Males plants do not produce fruit or seed.

Viburnum davidii fruits

Viburnum davidii – source:

Viburnum davidii Growing Guide

These hardy shrubs are easy to grow and require very little care and attention once fully established but they do require some care when young. They prefer to be planted in full sun or partial shade but will grow well (and are often) seen in more shaded, wooded areas underneath trees.

They will grow in most soil types but it does need to be well-drained. If your soil is clay and becomes waterlogged, try adding grit to the soil to improve drainage and add peat to bulk and help break up the clay. Water regularly when planted until the plant becomes established and mulch around the base in the autumn and spring to help add nutrients to the soil and help keep the roots moist.

When a Viburnum becomes dry they will let you know as their leaves start to droop and look sad.

Propagating Viburnum

Viburnum can be propagated in two ways. The easiest and most successful way is to take semi-hardwood cuttings around mid-summer to the early autumn. Take cuttings that are 6cm long and apply a rooting hormone to the cutting. This is advised and will increase the chances of it taking root. Place the cutting into a mix of compost and sand (50/50) and leave over winter. In the spring the cutting should be ready to transplant into small 9cm pots to grow on for another 12 months.

Hardwood cuttings can be taken in winter and propagated in the same way as described above. When taking cuttings it can improve the success rate if you use a propagator with bottom heat set to 12-20ºC.

The final way to propagate is to take the fresh seeds. These can be taken in the autumn from the plant and sown into trays with seed compost. This method may leave you disappointed but if you want to try, any chosen seeds will need to be chilled for a couple of weeks in a fridge before sowing. This is done to make the seeds think they have been through winter and if you miss this step they are unlikely to germinate or will take longer.

Sow the seeds into a tray thinly and place in a cold frame or in a warm place, this is known as warm stratification and can speed up the process. The seeds may take 14 months to germinate so be patient. This is why taking semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings are so appealing because the plants can be quickly grown within 6 months of taking cuttings.

Pest and diseases

The Viburnum davidii is usually unaffected by pests or diseases but they can be attacked by a small fly called thrips. This tiny fly may leave small holes in the leaves and can be sprayed with an insecticide at the first signs. The only other thing to watch out for is droopy leaves, this is usually caused by a lack of water.

They can be affected by leaf spot and this is where black spots appear on the leaves. It can be caused by several reasons, including viruses. Affected leaves are best removed and although it will not kill the plant it can make the plant look unsightly.

Pruning Viburnum davidii

They require very little pruning except for the odd trim. Trim them to your desired shape or to trim back any overgrown areas using a sharp pair of secateurs. They are best trimmed after flowering to a strong shoot in summer and can handle a hard pruning to base level if needed. If you have no need to prune then they are best left alone and if you trim them after flowering you will be trimming off the growth where the oval blue fruits would appear in autumn, so expect no fruits this year if you have done this. This is one of the reasons they are best left unpruned and only pruned when necessary.

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