How to Grow and Care for Arrowwood Viburnum

arrowwood viburnum

The Spruce / K. Dave

Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) is a fairly small flowering shrub that is part of the honeysuckle family. It grows in an upright, rounded shape with stems of glossy green and oval foliage with toothed edges. The leaves are around 4 inches long. In the late spring, the shrub bears showy white flowers that stretch roughly 2 to 4 inches across. Blue-black fruits appear after the flowers and tend to attract birds and other wildlife. In the fall, the shrub’s foliage turns to shades of yellow, orange, and red. Arrowwood viburnum has a moderate growth rate. It can be planted in the spring or early fall.

Common Names Arrowwood viburnum, southern arrowwood, American arrowwood, roughish arrowwood
Botanical Name Viburnum dentatum
Family Caprifoliaceae
Plant Type  Shrub
Mature Size 6–10 ft. tall and wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Loamy, moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 2-8 (USDA)
Native Area North America

Arrowwood Viburnum Care

Arrowwood viburnum shrubs are good for border plantings, as well as for use as hedges and screens. In ideal growing conditions and with excellent care the shrubs can reach 15 feet tall, but normally they are a bit smaller than that. They also are a good choice for planting in areas of your yard that are too wet for many other plants, as they can handle wet soil.

In terms of their care, plan to water whenever the soil begins to dry out. Fertilization will generally be an annual task, along with pruning. The shrubs can spread out of their bounds via suckers traveling through the soil. So cut back these suckers if you wish to prevent the shrub’s spread. Moreover, if you live in a climate that has considerable temperature fluctuations, a light layer of mulch around your shrub can help to keep its roots at a consistent temperature as well as to retain soil moisture. 

Light

This shrub grows well in full sunlight to partial shade, meaning it needs at least roughly four hours of direct sunlight on most days. In hot climates, shade from the strong afternoon sun is ideal. But too little sun can impede flowering.

Soil

Arrowwood viburnum prefers a loamy, well-drained soil. But it can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay soil. It likes an acidic soil pH.

Water

The shrub needs at least a moderate amount of soil moisture, though mature plants have some drought tolerance. They also can handle occasional flooding. Keep young shrubs well watered, and continue to give established plants water whenever the soil begins to dry out.

Temperature and Humidity

The shrubs prefer temperate conditions, though they have fairly good heat and cold tolerance within their growing zones. Make sure to water them well in very hot weather to minimize plant stress, and give them protection if your temperatures will be unseasonably cold to prevent foliage damage. Humidity typically isn’t an issue for the shrubs. 

Fertilizer

To encourage healthy growth and profuse flowering, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring. It also can be beneficial to mix compost into the soil around your shrub.

Types of Arrowwood Viburnum

Cultivars of arrowwood viburnum include:

  • 'Bluemuffin' (V. dentatum ‘Christom’), a compact cultivar reaching 5 to 7 feet in height and 4 to 6 feet in width
  • 'Autumn Jazz' (V. dentatum ‘Ralph Senior’), a larger shrub, 6 to 10 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide, with a striking range of fall colors including yellow, orange, red, and burgundy.

Pruning

These shrubs don’t need extensive pruning. Right after the plant is done flowering, prune any stems necessary to maintain the shrub’s shape. But avoid taking off more than a third of the shrub's overall size. Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased portions of the shrub whenever you spot them. 

Propagating Arrowwood Viburnum

The best propagation method is from softwood or hardwood cuttings.

  1. For softwood cuttings, in the spring or early summer, take a cutting of a vigorous branch, 4 to 6 inches in length. Remove leaves from the lower third. For hardwood cuttings, during the dormant season or in the early spring just before the shrub breaks dormancy, choose a strong stem and cut 8 to 10 inches of it, then strip the leaves from the bottom half and make sure to include at least a few nodes.
  2. Fill 4-inch pots with a moist mixture of potting mix and make a small hole in the center of the mix.
  3. Dip the stem in rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in the pot.
  4. Cover the cutting with a plastic bag or dome and keep it in indirect light, with damp soil, until the roots begin to form in about four weeks for a softwood cutting. Rooting might be slower for a hardwood cutting but should still occur within a few months.
  5. Test for rooting by pulling gently on the plant. If there's resistance, the plant is beginning to establish roots. Remove the plastic and place in a spot that provides bright indirect light. Before planting in the landscape, gradually acclimate your plant to the outdoors by placing it in a protected area for a few hours every day for a week or 10 days.

How to Grow Arrowwood Viburnum From Seed

Growing viburnum from seed is possible but a lengthy and finicky process. Because propagation from cuttings is fairly easy and has a good success rate, it is the propagation method of choice.

Potting and Repotting

Arrowood viburnum is too large to work well as a container plant. For a potted plant, choose a dwarf variety such as witherod viburnum 'Lil' Ditty', a cultivar of Viburnum cassinoides.

Overwintering

Arrowwood viburnum is a tough plant that does not need winter protection.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Arrowwood viburnum shrubs don’t have serious issues with pests or diseases. However, they might be bothered by the viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni). This beetle has become a major problem for viburnum shrubs in Europe and North America. Both the adult beetles and their larvae eat the leaves of the bushes. And if not controlled, the pest can defoliate your shrubs completely, resulting in their death. The female beetles lay their eggs on the undersides of the shrub stems. So if you notice dark spots there, it’s best to prune off those stems and dispose of them before the eggs hatch in the spring. Use organic pesticides only for serious infestations, as they also can kill beneficial insects.

How to Get Arrowwood Viburnum to Bloom

If your shrub does not bloom, the culprit can be lack of sunlight, lack of nutrients, or improper pruning. Apply a fertilizer high in phosphorus in the early spring. As for pruning, viburnums bloom on old wood and you might have accidentally removed the buds if you pruned it too late in the season. Follow the pruning instructions above.

Common Problems With Arrowwood Viburnum

Like many native plants, arrowwood viburnum is trouble-free plant when grown in its native range where is it well adapted to the growing conditions.

FAQ
  • Does arrowwood viburnum grow in the shade?

    The shrub can tolerate partial shade but too much shade will lead to poor flowering.

  • Is arrowwood viburnum invasive?

    The shrub is native to North America and as such not considered invasive.

  • Is arrowwood viburnum an evergreen?

    It is a deciduous shrub that looses it leaves in the winter. For warmer climates (USDA zones 7-10), a native evergreen viburnum is Walter's viburnum (Viburnum obovatum).

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Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Viburnum Leaf Beetle. University of Wisconsin-Madison.