Plants & Growing

Viburnum Davidii Care & Growing Tips In The UK

close up of the white leaves of vibernum davidii
Written by Chris Briggs

Viburnum davidii is a type of evergreen shrub that has very distinctive glossy leaves and white flowers. Adding it to your garden is a great way to add visual interest and it looks great with other plants and shrubs.

Growing virburnum davidii in your garden is quite simple. If you plant in early spring, then you’ll be able to get the full benefit of them by the time summer comes around. They can tolerate shade quite well, so you don’t need to worry about having a perfect spot either.

In this guide we’ll be covering every aspect of viburnum davidii, including –

  • Origins and varieties
  • Feeding and growing tips
  • Pruning
  • When to plant
  • Propagation
  • Diseases and problems
  • FAQs

Let’s start by looking at their origins and varieties…

Origins & Varieties

Viburnum davidii are native to western China. They can grow up to 5ft tall and have oval-shaped leaves and clusters of small white flowers.

Viburnum carlcephalum plant
Viburnum carlcephalum – one of the more fragrant varieties

Below are some of the other varieties of viburnum –

Japanese snowball

This variety of viburnum has deep green leaves and pure white flowers that are most abundant in late spring. Their leaves turn a shade of reddish/purple in autumn. This plant also produces berries, that turn from red to black as they age.

Pink farm hybrid

Pink farm hybrid is very similar to Japanese snowball viburnum in its appearance. It also has deep green leaves and has small pink buds that give way to white flowers in the spring. The flowers have a sweet fragrance and produce fruit later in the year. 

Viburnum setigerum

This deciduous shrub can grow up to 4m tall and has long, blue/green leaves in the summer that turn to reddish-brown in the autumn. White flowers blossom in the spring and summer as well as orange berries, which turn red in the autumn. This variety would make an excellent choice if you want to add colour to your garden. 

Arrowwood

Arrowwood viburnum has white flowers, blue berries and purple/red leaves. It can grow to be 15ft tall, so this is an excellent variety for large gardens, where you want to add some shade/privacy.

Blackhaw

Blackhaw is one of the biggest types of viburnum. It can grow to be 30ft tall, although in most cases it grows to about half this size. It has beautiful white flowers as well as black berries. It’s not particularly difficult to grow and will tolerate shade and dry periods.

Doublefile

Doublefile has dark green leaves in the summer, that turn to purple/red in the autumn. It also has beautiful white flowers that blossom in the spring as well as red berries that appear in autumn. It can grow to be 12 feet tall.

Feeding, Care & Growing Tips

When planting viburnum shrubs, you should pick a spot that gets plenty of sunlight. Some varieties are tolerant to partial shade, but in general viburnum are sun-loving plants. You should also make that the soil is well-drained.

Viburnum davidii with glossy green leaves and clustered white flowers
Viburnum davidii are easy to spot from their glossy green leaves and clustered white flowers

Good ventilation is essential if you want your plants to thrive and avoid potential issues with fungal diseases. This being the case, you should plant them roughly 10-15 meters apart.

Once you have found a good spot, you should dig a hole that’s big enough to accommodate the entire root ball. Position the plant and fill the hole with soil. Be sure to water it well immediately after planting and continue to water it at least once a week for the first six months.

Requirements

Viburnum davidii plants need a good amount of exposure to the sun in order to flower at their best. There are certain varieties that can cope in partial shade, but it’s usually better to pick a sunny spot.

As for water requirements, they will need to be watered regularly while they’re getting established. It’s a good idea to use mulch to help the soil retain moisture.

Viburnum davidii don’t require a specific type of soil to do well. Providing the soil is not overly saturated, they will be fine. If you want to use a fertiliser with your plants, then spring would be the best time.

Pruning Guidelines

Viburnum davidii shrubs don’t need too much pruning, outside of removing dead leaves or damaged branches. If you notice that branches are becoming a little too dense, then it’s not a bad idea to prune them to improve air circulation. Good air circulation will mean your plants grow better and lessen the risk of disease.

Although pruning generally isn’t necessary for viburnum to grow well, you can prune young plants if you want to shape them. Pinching out the sides of young plants will enable you to create a balanced look without causing any harm to them.

Propagating Guidelines

There are a couple of good ways to propagate viburnum shrubs. One is using layering and the other is to use cuttings. Let’s look at layering first.

Layering

Layering is a very easy way of propagating viburnum and simply means taking a stem from an existing plant and encouraging it to form its own roots. There are a few ways to accomplish this, but we’ll look at the simplest here.

Check the outside of your plants for stems that can be bent to soil level. You should then make a small incision in the stem and bury it in the soil. Everything being well, this stem should form its own roots in 1-2 months. Once it’s well established, you can then transplant it elsewhere in your garden, so it has room to flourish.

Using cuttings

Using cuttings is another way to propagate. Early summer is the best time to take cuttings. Be sure to use cuttings that haven’t yet flowered and take from plants that are well watered.

Place your cuttings in a container with good quality compost and lightly water them. They will need some light, but it’s not recommended to keep them in direct sunlight. Using a propagator would be ideal. The cuttings should become established in 5-10 weeks.

Common Diseases & Problems

Viburnum plants tend to be problem-free. However, when they’re grown in less-than-ideal conditions or when they’re first getting established, then certain diseases and pests can affect them. Below are some of the most common.

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a type of fungal diseases that affects countless plants. Plants that develop it will have a coating of white fungus on their leaves that is similar in appearance to powder (hence the name).

Powdery mildew usually affects young viburnum, especially when they’re grown in humid conditions. Thankfully, there are effective ways to prevent and treat it. You should take care when watering plants, so water doesn’t splash up onto their leaves. Using mulch is a good way to prevent this.

For any plants that already have powdery mildew on them, you can use a good fungicide spray to get rid of it.

Leaf spot

Leaf spot is another common type of fungal disease that viburnum plants can develop. Affected plants will have blotchy patches on their leaves and if left untreated, it can cause more serious problems.

In order to prevent leaf spot, you should avoid getting water on the leaves of your plants. It’s a good idea to water your plants earlier in the day, so if any water does get on the leaves, it has plenty of time to evaporate. Good air circulation is also important, so be sure to spread your plants far enough apart. 

For plants that are already affected, you can either use an organic treatment that contains sulphur, or a good fungicide.

Downey mildew

Downey mildew can first be spotted by light green spots on the upper part of the leaves with white fungal growth on the lower part of the leaves.

It can be avoided by keeping the leaves of your plants as dry as possible. This means taking care when watering them, so you don’t get water on the leaves. You should also ensure good air circulation.  You should dig up and destroy any plants that are severely affected.

Armillaria root rot

Also known as oak root rot and mushroom root rot, this type of fungal disease can affect many different types of trees and shrubs. Armillaria root rot can be particularly troublesome, as often the symptoms aren’t immediately obvious and one day the plant can simply die. Things to look out for include stunted growth, leaves dropping and yellowing of the leaves.

The best way to avoid root rot is by ensuring your viburnum have the best growing conditions possible. This means giving them enough space, watering them regularly and ensuring that the soil is in good condition.

If a plant’s entire root structure is affected by root rot, then, unfortunately, it cannot be saved, and it should be dug up and removed immediately. The same goes for the soil it was planted in.

Leaf beetles

Leaf beetles are a relatively new problem for viburnum plants and can be a real nuisance since they can very easily destroy the leaves of plants they infest.

If you notice leaf beetles on your plants, then you should take steps to remove them immediately. You can often spot their larvae first and simply pruning any leaves where they’re present can be a good way to stop them from spreading further.

It’s also a good idea to use a fungicide spray, providing the plants aren’t very young. Another method to deal with leaf beetles is by introducing plants that attract predatory insects, such as ladybirds and butterflies.

Scale

Scale are very small brownish insects that appear on the underside of the leaves of infected plants. They feed on the sap of plants as well as leaving a waxy coating behind. This waxy coating not only moulds over time, but also attracts other insects who feed on it. You can usually spot scale from this waxy coating or from the leaves yellowing.

To get rid of a light infestation, you can usually simply scrape it off or use water spray. For heavier infestations, it might be necessary to use an insecticidal soap.

Aphids

Aphids aren’t as problematic for viburnum as some other types of pests, but they can cause leaves to yellow and curl. Dealing with aphids is quite simple and a blast of water is usually enough to get rid of them. You can use an insecticidal spray for more severe cases, but this can also kill helpful insects too, so it’s better to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

green aphids on surface of a plant
Aphids cause plants to develop unsightly curled, yellowed leaves

Thrips

Thrips are another potential problem for viburnum and will cause purple spots to appear on the leaves of affected plants. To deal with thrips you can either prune the affected leaves or use an insecticide. It’s usually better to prune since it won’t affect beneficial insects like insecticide would.

Frequently Asked Questions    

Do vibernum davidii flowers smell?

Yes. In fact, the reason a lot of people grow them in their garden is due to their great smell.

Are vibernum davidii deer resistant?

Yes. Viburnum davidii plants are deer resistant, so if you live in the countryside and deer are around, you don’t have to worry about them damaging your plants.

When should I hard prune vibernum davidii?

Usually, they only require light pruning throughout the year, but there are cases when you might need to hard prune your viburnum shrubs. Any shrubs that are particularly overgrown can be cut back.

If you do need to hard prune a viburnum plant, then you’ll need to do it in in early autumn at the latest. This is because the plant will need to develop some new growth in order to survive the winter.

When is the best time to plant viburnum davidii?

The best time to plant would be in the spring or autumn. Both these times of year will give your plants good conditions to get established, by getting a good mix of sunlight and rain.

About the author

Chris Briggs

Chris loves the outdoors and exploring nature. He is a freelance writer and has written extensively on subjects including travel, DIY and gardening.

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