Growing Dwarf Viburnums – Learn About Small Viburnum Shrubs

Dwarf Viburnum Shrubs Full Of Red Berries
(Image credit: ErikaMitchell)

Most shrubs are impressive for a season. They might offer flowers in spring or fiery fall colors. Viburnums are among the most popular shrubs for home gardens since they provide many seasons of garden interest. However, not every gardener has a space big enough to accommodate these large shrubs.

If this is your situation, help is on the way as new dwarf viburnum varieties have developed. These compact viburnum plants offer the same multi-season pleasure, but in a smaller size. Read on for information about small viburnum shrubs.

Dwarf Types of Viburnum

If you are a gardener with a smaller yard, you won’t be able to plant the Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii), the shade tolerant shrub with intoxicatingly fragrant spring flowers. This variety can grow to 8 feet (2 m.) tall, a formidable size for a small garden.

Given the demand, the marketplace has responded with smaller cultivars so you can now start growing dwarf viburnums. These dwarf types of viburnum grow slowly and stay compact. You’ll have your pick since there are several small varieties available in commerce. What better name for a compact viburnum plant than Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum?’ It has all the great attributes of the regular, larger size plant but tops out at half the height.

If your dream shrub is American cranberry (Viburnum opulus var. americanum syn. Viburnum trilobum), you’re probably attracted to its flowers, fruits, and fall color. Like other full-size viburnums, it shoots up to 8 feet (2 m.) tall and wide. There is a compact variety (Viburnum trilobum ‘Compactum’), however, that stays at half the size. For lots of fruit, try Viburnum trilobum ‘Spring Green.’

You may have seen arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) in a hedge. These large and attractive shrubs thrive in all soil types and exposures, growing to 12 feet (around 4 m.) in both directions. Look for the dwarf viburnum varieties, like ‘Papoose,’ only 4 feet (1 m.) tall and wide.

Another large, yet magnificent, shrub is the European cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus), with eye-catching flowers, generous crops of berries, and fiery autumn color. It grows to 15 feet (4.5 m.) tall though. For truly small gardens, you can select Viburnum opulus ‘Compactum,’ that stays to a relatively modest 6 feet (almost 2 m.) in height. Or go for truly small with Viburnum opulus ‘Bullatum,’ which doesn’t get above 2 feet (61 cm.) tall and wide.

Growing dwarf viburnums in the landscape is a great way to enjoy these lovely shrubs without taking up the additional space.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.