Northern Burgundy ViburnumViburnum dentatum 'Morton'
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Viburnum dentatum 'Morton'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Northern Burgundy Viburnum is a medium-sized rounded shrub reaching about 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It is densely branched, with attractive glossy foliage that turns stunning shades of brilliant burgundy-red in fall. Early summer brings clusters of white blooms, attractive to butterflies and other pollinators, followed by a heavy crop of blue-black berries that are valuable winter food for songbirds. This native shrub is ideal in garden beds, for screening, and in wild and natural gardens.
Full sun will give the best colors and the most berries on the Northern Burgundy Viburnum, but it tolerates partial sun and tree shade well. It grows in almost all soils, favoring moist, well-drained soil, but growing in heavy clay, drier soils, beneath black walnuts, and in most situations. It is free of important pests or diseases and left alone by deer. Very low-maintenance and it’s best not to prune much, as this reduces flowering and berry crops. Needs a second variety of the same species to carry a heavy berry crop. We recommend the Blue Muffin® Viburnum, a more compact variety with azure-blue berries.
Creating structure and form in your garden is important, and you don’t want to wait decades for it to happen. In larger gardens you need taller plants for the background, to create an attractive backdrop, and large deciduous shrubs do this much faster than evergreens will. There are many different kinds of viburnums, and they are a great source of upright, solid plants that fill spaces, provide interest from flowers and fruit, and often have good fall coloring as well. A special favorite of ours is the Northern Burgundy Viburnum. It grows quickly to be 10 or even 12 feet tall, providing a strong background and screening your garden as well. Yet it only spread outwards 8 feet or so, not taking up a massive amount of room. It has both white flowers and dark blue berries, but the big feature is the magnificent fall leaves in glowing shades of rich red – the burgundy of its name. This is a shrub especially suitable in colder zones, where it really thrives with cold winters and warm summers. It is perfect in the most formal, structured garden, but equally at home in wilder settings, where ‘garden’ meets ‘nature’.
The Northern Burgundy Viburnum is a large deciduous shrub that grows to be over 10 feet tall and about 8 feet wide, with a full, rounded profile and branching almost to the ground. Young stems are remarkable for being very straight – they were a top-choice for arrow making by native Americans – with a fuzzy surface that matures to a light-brown, knobby bark on older stems. The leaves are oval, arranged in pairs along the stems, and they are about 4 inches long, tapering to a point and with serrated edges. They have a glossy surface marked with prominent sunken veins, and for most of the year they are a warm mid-green color. Then, as the nights get colder, they take on glowing shades of warm reds and bronzy burgundies. This really adds to the beauty of fall in your garden. This species of viburnum has variable fall color, with many plants being mostly yellow. Not Northern Burgundy, which will reliably give you a fabulous display every fall.
In May or June clusters of creamy-white flowers open at the ends of the stems. These are about 4 inches across, and popular with pollinators, from bees to butterflies. The flowers become clusters of berries ripening in late summer or early fall, when they turn from light green to dusky blues and mature as a dark blue-black color. You can enjoy this berry display for several weeks, and then the fat-rich berries are taken by songbirds and migratory birds – a popular and nutritious treat.
To develop a good berry crop, this bush needs another viburnum of the same species nearby to cross-pollinate each other. Most varieties of arrow-wood will work, or wild plants, but we recommend you grow the Blue Muffin® Viburnum, a more compact variety for the middle of your beds, renowned for the light-blue of its berries. Both varieties will carry a bumper crop. The second variety needs to flower at the same time, and that can vary depending on where you live.
Where you need bulk and volume in your beds, this shrub delivers. Grow it out on a lawn, on slopes and by streams and ponds. Plant a row at 5-foot spacing for a solid screen or informal hedge. Plant it in the corners of your yard, or on the sunny side of large trees.
Cold-hardy in zone 3, the Northern Burgundy Viburnum is a fabulous plant for gardeners in colder parts of the country, including the north and northern Midwest. It’s also adaptable to warmer areas, and grows all the way into zone 8 – so almost everyone, everywhere, can grow this great shrub.
The Northern Burgundy Viburnum will produce the best fall colors when grown in full sun, but it also grows easily in partial shade, or in the dappled light beneath deciduous trees. It prefers moist but well-drained rich soils, but this is tough, reliable shrub that will grow in almost all garden conditions, including heavy clays, wetter soils, and areas prone to flooding. Just avoid areas of stagnant water. It is also a shrub that will survive beneath a black walnut tree, immune to the toxin those trees release into the soil that kills many other plants.
The Northern Burgundy Viburnum is not normally troubled by pests or diseases, although you may see a few chewed leaves from the native butterflies that breed on it. Remove thin or weak twigs as it grows, keeping a sturdy framework, but after that it is best to leave this shrub untrimmed, as pruning and trimming will reduce the blooms and berries.
Arrow-wood, Viburnum dentatum, grows wild in woods and by streams across a large area of the east, from the Canada and the Great Lakes across to Maine and south as far as Florida and Texas. The variety called ‘Morton’ began as a plant growing in the collections of the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois. It was noticed for its reliable and bright fall colors, and with the help of Ralph Synnestvedt, a prominent nurseryman in the area, it was introduced as a Chicagoland Grows® selection, and sold with the trademark name of Northern Burgundy™ is a plant introduction
This plant was chosen by a partnership of the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Morton Arboretum and the Ornamental Growers Association of Northern Illinois for their Chicagoland Grows® range – plants suitable for the harsh conditions of the northern Midwest. If it grows well there, it will grow just about anywhere, right? So you know that the Northern Burgundy Viburnum is going to be a success in your garden. These top-quality shrubs are always in short supply, and hard to keep in stock. Order now, because they will soon all be shipped out to our loyal customers.