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Viburnum Carlesii: The Unassuming Shrub with a Powerful Fragrance

Viburnum Carlesii


Importance of Viburnum Carlesii in the Garden

Viburnum Carlesii, commonly known as Korean Spice Viburnum, is an unassuming shrub that packs a powerful punch when it comes to fragrance. Its clusters of pink and white flowers emit a delightful scent that can fill an entire garden in the springtime. In addition to its olfactory appeal, Viburnum Carlesii also provides year-round interest with its attractive foliage, berries, and autumn color. This versatile plant is a valuable addition to any landscape, providing beauty and supporting local ecosystems.

Overview of the Article

This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth look at Viburnum Carlesii, including its origins, botanical description, popular cultivars, planting and care instructions, design possibilities, fragrance, traditional medicinal uses, and environmental considerations. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about this remarkable plant.

Origins and History of Viburnum Carlesii

Viburnum Carlesii Origins

Native Regions and Habitats

Viburnum Carlesii is native to Korea, Japan, and China, where it can be found in forests and scrublands. It has adapted well to a wide range of climates and can be successfully grown in many regions around the world, including much of North America and Europe.

Historical Uses and Cultural Significance

In its native regions, Viburnum Carlesii has been cultivated for centuries for its beautiful flowers and intoxicating fragrance. It has also been used in traditional medicine for a variety of ailments, including digestive issues and respiratory problems.

Botanical Description and Classification

Viburnum Carlesii Botanical Description

Plant Family and Genus

Viburnum Carlesii belongs to the Adoxaceae family and is part of the Viburnum genus, which consists of over 150 species of shrubs and small trees. Many Viburnum species are grown for their ornamental qualities, including their flowers, foliage, and fruits.

Physical Characteristics


Viburnum Carlesii has oval, serrated leaves that are dark green on the top side and lighter green on the underside. The leaves turn a beautiful shade of red or purple in the fall, adding to the plant's year-round interest.


The most striking feature of Viburnum Carlesii is its clusters of small, tubular flowers that appear in the spring. The flowers are initially pink and gradually fade to white as they mature, creating a lovely two-tone effect. The fragrance of the flowers has been likened to that of cloves or vanilla.


Following the flowering period, Viburnum Carlesii produces small, red berries that ripen to black in the fall. The berries are a food source for many species of birds and other wildlife.

Growth Habit

Viburnum Carlesii is a deciduous shrub with a rounded, multi-stemmed growth habit. It typically reaches heights of 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) and spreads to a similar width.

Viburnum Carlesii Cultivars

Differences in Size and Appearance

There are several popular cultivars and varieties of Viburnum Carlesii, each with its own unique characteristics. Some cultivars, such as 'Compactum,' have a more compact growth habit, making them suitable for smaller gardens or container growing. Others, like 'Aurora,' are known for their particularly vibrant flower colors and strong fragrance.

Unique Characteristics

Some Viburnum Carlesii cultivars have been bred for unique characteristics, such as variegated foliage or resistance to certain pests and diseases. These specialized varieties can add extra interest and resilience to your garden.

Planting and Growing Viburnum Carlesii

Planting Viburnum Carlesii

Selecting the Right Location

Viburnum Carlesii thrives in full sun to partial shade but will produce the most abundant flowers and strongest fragrance in sunnier locations. It is also important to choose a site with well-draining soil to prevent root rot and other moisture-related issues.

Soil Requirements

Viburnum Carlesii is adaptable to a wide range of soil types, from sandy to clay, but prefers a moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. A soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal for this plant.

Propagation Methods


Viburnum Carlesii can be propagated from seed, but this method is generally slower and less reliable than other methods. Fresh seeds have the highest germination rate but may take up to two years to germinate.


The most common method of propagating Viburnum Carlesii is through softwood or hardwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings can be taken in the spring or early summer, while hardwood cuttings are best taken in the late fall or winter. With proper care and rooting hormone, cuttings should root within a few weeks to a few months.

Care and Maintenance

Viburnum Carlesii Care

Watering and Nutrient Needs

Viburnum Carlesii prefers evenly moist soil and may require supplemental watering during dry periods. However, it is important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems. A slow-release fertilizer applied in the spring can help support healthy growth and flowering.

Pruning and Shaping

Pruning Viburnum Carlesii is generally not necessary, but it can be done to shape the plant or remove any dead or damaged branches. The best time to prune is immediately after flowering to avoid disrupting the following year's blooms.

Pest and Disease Management

Viburnum Carlesii is relatively resistant to pests and diseases but can be affected by common problems such as aphids, scale insects, and powdery mildew. Regular monitoring and prompt treatment with appropriate control methods can help keep these issues in check.

Designing with Viburnum Carlesii

Viburnum Carlesii Design

Creating Year-Round Interest

The multi-season interest of Viburnum Carlesii makes it an excellent choice for creating year-round beauty in the garden. Its spring flowers, summer foliage, fall color, and winter berries provide visual appeal throughout the seasons.

Complementary Plantings

Viburnum Carlesii pairs well with a variety of other plants, including spring-blooming bulbs, perennials, and other shrubs. Consider planting it alongside plants with contrasting foliage or flower colors to create a stunning display.

Using Viburnum Carlesii as a Focal Point

The fragrance and beauty of Viburnum Carlesii make it an ideal focal point in the garden. Plant it near a seating area, walkway, or entrance to fully enjoy its delightful scent and attractive features.

The Fragrance of Viburnum Carlesii

Viburnum Carlesii Fragrance

Chemical Components Behind the Scent

The fragrance of Viburnum Carlesii is produced by a combination of volatile compounds, including eugenol, which is also found in cloves and contributes to the plant's spicy scent. Other compounds, such as vanillin, add a hint of sweetness.

Impact on Pollinators and Wildlife

The fragrant flowers of Viburnum Carlesii attract a variety of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, which help support local ecosystems. The fruits of the plant also provide an important food source for birds and other wildlife.

Viburnum Carlesii in Traditional Medicine

Viburnum Carlesii Medicine

Historical Uses

In traditional medicine, Viburnum Carlesii has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive disorders, respiratory issues, and inflammation. The plant's bark, leaves, and flowers have all been used for their medicinal properties.

Modern Research and Applications

While modern research on Viburnum Carlesii is limited, some studies have shown potential benefits in areas such as antioxidant activity and antibacterial properties. Further research is needed to fully understand the plant's potential medicinal applications.

Environmental Benefits and Concerns

Viburnum Carlesii Environment

Supporting Local Ecosystems

By providing food and habitat for pollinators and wildlife, Viburnum Carlesii plays an important role in supporting local ecosystems. Planting native species like Viburnum Carlesii can help promote biodiversity and create healthier, more resilient landscapes.

Invasive Potential and Management

Although Viburnum Carlesii is not considered invasive in mostregions, it is important to monitor its growth and spread, particularly in areas outside its native range. If the plant becomes problematic, appropriate management techniques, such as pruning or removal, can help keep it in check.

Summary and Conclusion

Viburnum Carlesii is a versatile and valuable addition to any landscape, offering beauty, fragrance, and ecological benefits. With proper care and maintenance, this unassuming shrub can become a stunning focal point in the garden, providing year-round interest and supporting local ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Viburnum Carlesii FAQ

Can Viburnum Carlesii be grown in containers?

Yes, Viburnum Carlesii can be grown in containers, particularly smaller or more compact cultivars. Be sure to choose a well-draining pot and use a high-quality potting mix to ensure the plant's health and success.

How long does it take for Viburnum Carlesii to reach maturity?

Viburnum Carlesii typically reaches maturity and its full size within 5 to 10 years, depending on the specific cultivar and growing conditions.

What are the most fragrant cultivars of Viburnum Carlesii?

Some of the most fragrant cultivars of Viburnum Carlesii include 'Aurora,' 'Diana,' and 'Korean Spice.' These varieties are known for their particularly strong and delightful scents.

Are there any dwarf varieties of Viburnum Carlesii for small spaces?

Yes, there are dwarf varieties of Viburnum Carlesii available, such as 'Compactum,' which has a more compact growth habit and is well-suited for small gardens or container growing.

Can Viburnum Carlesii be used in cut flower arrangements?

The fragrant flowers of Viburnum Carlesii can make a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements. Be sure to harvest the flower clusters when they are fully open for the best fragrance and appearance.

Is Viburnum Carlesii toxic to pets or humans?

Viburnum Carlesii is not considered toxic to pets or humans, but it is always a good idea to prevent pets from chewing on plants, as individual sensitivities can vary. If you suspect your pet has ingested a potentially harmful plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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