David ViburnumViburnum davidii
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The David Viburnum is a dome-shaped evergreen shrub reaching about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide, and even larger in time. It has large, 6-inch leaves of glossy dark-green, marked with three long grooves. Large clusters of white flowers open in spring, followed by berries that turn pink, red and then a unique turquoise blue by late fall and through the winter. The leaves may turn burgundy in colder areas. A wonderful shrub for woodland and semi-shaded gardens, Asian-style arrangements, and as a container plant.
Morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal for the David Viburnum, which grows well in similar conditions to azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias, with some preference for acid soil. It grows best in moist, well-drained rich soils and even watering is the key to success. Several bushes are needed for good berry production. Pests or diseases are rare and no pruning is needed, or desirable.
Growing a wide variety of shrubs is key to having an interesting garden at all seasons. Evergreen bushes give permanence and stability to your planting, and the best ones give seasonal interest as well. The range of bushes called Viburnums is broad, and they give us lots of great choices all across the different climates of America. For warmer zones, where growing broad-leaf evergreens is easy, one of the most interesting and desirable shrubs is the David Viburnum. This lower-growing shrub has a broad form, and highly attractive evergreen leaves with prominent veins, so it always has a unique look. It also has striking white spring flowers, and lovely metallic-blue berries as well as burgundy fall tones. It is wonderful added to your foundation planting, or used among semi-shade plants for variety and beauty. It is one of many great shrubs we have from China, thanks to the exploits of early explorers and plant collectors – in this case the famous English plant collector Ernest ‘China’ Wilson.
The David Viburnum is an evergreen shrub, with a broad, low mounded form, growing 2 to 3 feet tall but spreading up to 4 feet wide. With age it may add another foot or two to these dimensions. It is densely-branched and the broad, dome-like shape is very attractive. The striking foliage is an attractive deep green with dark tones, and the large leaves – up to 6 inches long – have a smooth oval to elliptical shape and pronounced veins that create a series of three deep grooves along the surface of the leathery leaf. The leaves are smooth and glossy, keeping their rich green well and sometimes adding deep tones of burgundy in fall and winter, especially in colder zones.
In spring the flowers develop, as small white blossoms. These are carried in large clusters 3 or even 4 inches across, packed with many blooms. The soft pinkish beige of the buds opens to clear white, and the quiet but showy blooming of this bush is a highlight of the season. This plant has separate male and female plants and after flowering female bushes will develop clusters of very attractive and unique berries. These are green when immature, turning pink, then red, and finally a striking turquoise blue when they ripen fully in fall and winter. Definitely a stand-out plant for berries. At least one male bush is needed for fruiting, so the best way to guarantee berries is to plant at least 3 bushes together. Since these have been grown from stem pieces taken from a collection of plants, they should be a mixture of male and female bushes.
This is one of the most outstanding evergreen bushes, and the unique foliage makes it striking, and worth planting in a prominent place. Grow it among the foundation planting around your home, or to give permanence to your shrub beds. Grow it in woodland settings among spring blooming shrubs, especially azaleas and camellias, as it enjoys the same conditions as they do. It would also be attractive and suitable in Asian-style gardens, and in the warmest zones this is an excellent container plant.
The David Viburnum is hardy in zones 7, 8 and 9. At the coldest edges of zone 7 it may be semi-evergreen, losing some of its oldest leaves over winter.
Semi-shaded spots are best for the David Viburnum, although it will grow in full sun in zone 7 if the soil is moist. Morning sun and afternoon shade usually give the best results, keeping the foliage from being scorched. The soil should be consistently moist, but well-drained. Avoid dry soil and drought-prone areas. Rich soil that is slightly acidic gives the best growth and richest leaf color. Mulch in spring with lime-free organic material.
Usually free of pests or diseases, any damaged leaves are a sign of too much sun and/or dry soil. Attention to watering and using fertilizer for acid-loving plants will give excellent results and while not super-easy, this is not a difficult plant to grow, and the results are worth that little bit of attention. No pruning is generally needed, and don’t attempt to trim with power tools, and this will damage the foliage.
The plant group called Viburnum is large, with about 175 species, and many are useful garden shrubs. Evergreen species are common in warmer countries, and Viburnum davidii is native to western China. The first European to see it was Ernest Wilson, a plant collector who was so famous for his collecting that he was nicknamed, ‘China’ Wilson. At the time he was working for the English nursery Messrs Veitch, who introduced it in 1904, but he also collected for the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. He named this bush in tribute to the equally-famous French missionary and naturalist, Armand David. While working as a missionary in China, David had described many plants new to Europe.
By 1912 this plant had already received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society of England for its attractive flowers, and in 1971 it received a second award for its berries. This tells you how outstanding it is. This shrub is a beautiful addition to your garden, and you will fall in love simply for the leaves, as so many gardeners already have. But order now, because this beautiful shrub is always in high demand, and our supply is limited.