Double File ViburnumViburnum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’
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Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Double File Viburnum is a coveted garden shrub of high quality, recommended by all the top designers. It has a unique horizontal form, with branches in layer, which in May or June are lined with two rows of pure white lace-cap type flower heads. The spectacular blooming is a garden highlight you will cherish. Growing up to 12 feet across, allow enough room when choosing a planting spot. The dark-green leaves have pronounced veins, making them look pleated, and they turn bold burgundies and purples in fall. Red berries are often produced in late summer, popular with birds. Plant in a prominent position, where its beauty can be seen to its best.
Full sun, or a spot with some afternoon shade in hot zones, is perfect for the Double File Viburnum. Grow it in any well-drained soil, with the best results in richer, moist soils that are neutral to acidic. Generally trouble-free, it is worthwhile to cut back by up to one-half any strong vertical shoots, but never cut back the horizontal branches, and avoid using trimmers. Rarely troubled by pests or diseases, this lovely plant is easy to grow and very worthwhile.
While Viburnums are valuable shrubs in almost all gardens, most of them are attractive ‘work horses’, not spectacular plants. That certainly isn’t true of the Double File Viburnum, which is definitely right up there with the most show-stopping shrubs you can grow. When in bloom it is truly spectacular, and deserving of a prime spot in your garden. Most plants have flowers more or less randomly placed, but in this beauty the horizontal branches are layered in blooms, like the levels on an iced wedding cake. Similar to lace-cap hydrangeas, the pure white of the blooms is startling, especially against the warm deep green of the pleated leaves. Bright red berries replace the flowers by late summer, also strung out along the branches, and then fall brings warm reds and purples, making this a superb 3-season shrub. It does grow large, and can mature to 12 feet across, so don’t make the mistake of ‘tucking it in’ somewhere – give it room to show you just how glorious it can be.
The Double File Viburnum is a broad deciduous shrub, with branches arranged in horizontal layers. Mature plants can be up to 12 feet across, so allow enough room for its future growth when planting. It can grow almost as tall too, although its height can be controlled a bit with pruning, and keeping it to 6 feet tall is easily done. The layered look is a large part of this plant’s beauty, so avoid trimming it. The leaves are 3 to 4 inches long, with a mat surface and toothed edges. The prominent veins give the leaves a ‘pleated’ look, and they stay clean all summer, keeping their rich mid to dark green coloring until fall. Then they develop bright burgundy reds and purples, making a great fall display.
Flowers open in May or June, or even earlier in warm zones. The flowers are spread all along the branches, like decoration on a wedding cake, and they are a perfect pure white. About 4 inches across, they are in two rows, alternating, as if someone had arranged them perfectly. The flower clusters have two types of flowers. There is an outer circle of larger flowers with flat petals, each up to 1¾ inch across, surrounding a center of many smaller white flowers, resembling a lace-cap hydrangea. After flowering clusters of bright red berries form, also along the branches, making a lovely display in late summer. These are attractive to birds, so sadly they don’t last more than a few weeks, but may persist right into the winter months.
This large shrub should be given a prominent position in your garden, a place to itself where it can show off its horizontal branches. The corner between two walls in ideal, or on a slope. It could also be used behind low-growing shrubs that bloom in spring, or perhaps with low hydrangeas in front for later blooming. It’s perfect for a white-themed garden, and of course it also goes with all other flower colors. Allow plenty of room, planting at least 6 feet from a wall or fence, and don’t plant in front of windows. It is also lovely in a natural woodland setting, or on the sunny side of trees, although it isn’t a native shrub.
The Double File Viburnum is hardy in zone 5, and we have reports of it growing in zone 4, as long as it is sheltered, and allowing for some die-back in a hard winter. It also grows well in warmer zones, all the way into zone 5.
Grow the Double File Viburnum in sun, although in hot zones some afternoon shade is valuable, especially if the soil is drier. It will also grow in the shadow of large trees, but avoid places with any significant shade. Able to grow in most ordinary garden soils, it does best in moist, well-drained soils enriched with plenty of organic material. Neutral or acidic soils are preferred, but not essential. Avoid wet places, dry places and areas with more than normal summer dryness, which established plants can handle.
We often assume spectacular plants are hard to grow, but this one isn’t. It doesn’t have any serious pests or diseases and it’s generally trouble-free. Never use trimmers on it, as this will destroy the layered look. To keep it lower and broad, never trim side branches, but shorten the strong vertical stems that grow up once it becomes established and starts to grow vigorously. If these are cut regularly, lots of horizontal branches develop, and it won’t grow too tall, emphasizing the horizontal form.
You need to travel to China or Japan to see the Double File Viburnum, Viburnum plicatum, growing wild, and gardeners in those countries have grown it for centuries. They collected varieties with flower heads that were all large flowers, making round heads like mophead hydrangeas. These were the first forms brought back by people like the Scottish botanist Robert Fortune, who brought plants over in 1846. These double forms are still sometimes seen. Plants with single, lace-cap type flowers, called ‘variety tomentosum’, also came early, around 1865, but it wasn’t until 1879 that Charles Maries, a plant collector for the English nursery of Messrs Veitch, brought back the one today called ‘Mariesii’. The nursery released it with that name in 1902, and it soon became coveted by everyone with larger gardens – like yours.
England’s Royal Horticultural Society gave the Double File Viburnum their coveted Award of Garden Merit in 1929, and again in 1993, which just shows how highly regarded this plant is. Every garden with some room should have this shrub – check out some of the other varieties if your space is more limited. This wonderful shrub is becoming hard to find, so we are thrilled to have some in stock – order now, because we know they won’t be around long, and who knows when they will be back again.