Korean Spice Viburnum

Viburnum carlesii

1 Review

Korean Spice Viburnum

Viburnum carlesii

1 Review


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Korean Spice Viburnum is a graceful and attractive deciduous shrub that starts the year with clusters of charming pink and white flowers that release a powerful sweet scent of carnations all across your garden. These are followed by red and black berries, and the attractive leaves turn wine-red in fall. This medium-sized bush is well-branched to the ground and perfect in all your shrub beds and foundation planting. Although not native to America it fits well into wild gardens too.

  • Richly-perfumed pink spring flowers
  • Red and black berries in late summer
  • Wine-red to dark burgundy fall leaves
  • A sturdy plants for the backbone of your shrub beds
  • Valuable in natural and wild gardens

Full sun or partial shade suit the Korean Spice Viburnum well. It is hardy in all but the coldest zones, and grows in most well-drained soils, with some drought resistance once well-established. Mulch in spring to preserve moisture and provide nourishment. Pests or diseases are rare, and you don’t even need to prune, although some thinning out of the oldest branches will keep it vigorous and more compact.

Plant Hardiness Zones 4-7
Mature Width 4-8
Mature Height 4-8
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 4-7

The backbone of every garden is its shrubs. These provide structure and permanence, filling spaces attractively, and making beds that draw us out to walk around them, seeing what is going on in any season. The best basic shrubs are easy to grow and reliable, rarely have problems and don’t need much attention over a year. The viburnums are a group of deciduous and evergreens shrubs that offer worthwhile plants for all zones, from cold to hot. The flowers are perhaps not spectacular, but they are attractive, and they brighten spring with their white or pink glow, often rewarding our closer inspection with sweet perfumes. Fruits of red or black usually follow, and the handsome foliage looks great all summer, usually ending with good fall colors. In all cooler zones the #1 choice among these shrubs has to be the Korean Spice Viburnum. It ticks all the boxes – charming pale-pink flowers in spring; wonderful perfume; red and black berries; and vibrant wine-red fall leaves. It doesn’t grow too large, so it can be fitted into all sizes of garden, and it needs almost no care. Wow, if only all plants gave so much and asked for so little.

Growing the Korean Spice Viburnum

Size and Appearance

The Korean Spice Viburnum is a bushy deciduous shrub, growing between 4 and 8 feet tall and wide, depending on its age and pruning schedule. The branches grow from the base, creating a full plant right to the ground, and in time it may grow wider if untrimmed. The bark is smooth and medium-brown, becoming darker, reddish-brown and flaking with age. The new stems are covered in a dense beige down of short hairs. The leaves are slightly heart-shaped and pointed, with uneven serrations around the edges. They are up to 3½ inches long, and 2½ inches wide, but typically smaller on mature plants. Prominent parallel veins radiate from the main vein, and the whole leaf is covered on both sides with very short hairs, giving it a soft, downy look and feel. In fall the leaves become glowing wine-red to dark burgundy, adding a deep but colorful note to the other colors of your fall trees.

Flower buds are formed by fall, and show through the winter months, without taking harm in cold weather. They expand and open in April and May, into clusters of pink buds 2 or 3 inches across. These open into five white petals at the end of a pink tube, with a charming natural simplicity. Don’t forget to smell them, or bring a twig into the house, because the intense, sweet fragrance is wonderful, with a hint of the cloves and reminiscent of carnations. You probably won’t forget to enjoy it, because it radiates from the bush up to 100 feet away, and neighbors will be asking you what that delicious fragrance is. The flowers are followed by clusters of small berries, which ripen first to red and then turn black.

Using the Korean Spice Viburnum in Your Garden

This shrub is perfect for the middle or back of your shrub beds, and place it near a pathway or beneath a window where you can stop and admire the beauty and perfume of the flowers. Use it freely around your garden in all settings, from foundation planting to wild areas – it always fits in. It could also be grown in a tub or planter box, and as an informal hedge and transitional planting from a more structured garden into a natural area.


The Korean Spice Viburnum is remarkably hardy – including the flower buds – and grows well in zone 4. It will also grow in warmer zones into zone 7, but not in hotter parts of the country. Gardener’s in cold areas deserve some treats for themselves, right?

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Grow the Korean Spice Viburnum in full sun or partial shade, it does well across a range of locations, although flowering will be reduced if there is too much shade. If it could choose its own soil it would be moist but well-drained, slightly acidic, and rich. However it will grow happily in almost any reasonably garden soil, so don’t worry too much. Prepare the planting area with some organic material if your soil is poor. Once established it has good resistance to normal periods of summer dryness.

Maintenance and Pruning

Some mulch over the roots in spring is about all it takes to keep the Korean Spice Viburnum growing well in your garden. Pruning is optional, but removing a few of the older branches near the ground when flowering finishes will keep it vigorous over the years, and more compact. Don’t trim the branches uniformly, as this will reduce or eliminate flowering. Pests or diseases rarely cause any problems.

History and Origin of the Korean Spice Viburnum

The history of how plants came to Europe and America from the East is a fascinating one. Louis Boehmer had been a royal gardener before he emigrated to America in the middle of the 19th century. In 1871 he was offered a job in Japan researching plant growing, and in 1882 he established the first nursery in Japan owned by a foreigner, exporting plants to Europe and America. He used local growers to produce large quantities of plants for export, and had a network of seed collectors across the East. He was probably the first person to introduce bonsai trees to the West, which got a ‘mixed reception’ at first. His partner Alfred Unger travelled looking for new plants, and in 1897 he brought back Viburnum carlesii, from Korea. This plant had first been described from plants collected twelve years earlier by W. R. Carles, an amateur botanist and British diplomat. This is the Korean Spice Viburnum, which Boehmer shipped around the world.

Buying the Korean Spice Viburnum at the Tree Center

Plants like this are vital basic elements in every garden, and you really should have this shrub to make your garden complete – the best garden has more than just the ‘latest thing’ in it. But of course these basic plants are always in high demand, and our stock is limited. Order now, and get ready for a spicy spring.

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Korean Spice Viburnum

Viburnum carlesii

1 Review