How to Grow and Care for Arrowwood Viburnum

arrowwood viburnum

The Spruce / K. Dave

Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) is a fairly small flowering shrub featuring an upright, rounded shape with stems of glossy green and oval foliage with toothed edges. This shrub bears showy white flowers and blue-black fruits that appear after the flowers fade, which tend to attract birds and other wildlife.

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. Arrowwood viburnum grows up to 2 feet per year and does best in temperate conditions, full or partial sunlight, moderate waterings, and loamy, moist, well-drained, acidic soil.

Common Names Arrowwood viburnum, southern arrowwood, American arrowwood, roughish arrowwood
Botanical Name Viburnum dentatum
Family Viburnaceae
Plant Type  Shrub
Mature Size 6–15 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

  • Plant in loamy, moist, well-drained soil with an acidic pH.
  • Mix compost into the soil to encourage healthy growth.
  • Choose a spot that receives full to partial sun (partial in hotter climates).
  • Water when the soil begins to dry out; some drought is tolerated.
  • Water more often during hot seasons.
  • Cut back suckers as they grow to prevent spreading.
  • Cover the plants or add mulch to its base in winter during high winds or temperatures below 15 degrees.
  • Fertilize annually in the spring with balanced, slow-release fertilizer.


Arrowwood viburnum grows well in full sunlight to partial shade, meaning it needs at least roughly 4 hours of direct sunlight on most days. In hot climates, shade from the strong afternoon sun is ideal. Too little sun can impede flowering.


Arrowwood viburnum prefers a loamy, well-drained soil and does best in an acidic soil pH. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay soil.


Arrowwood viburnum 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. Arrowwood viburnum should be watered well in very hot weather to minimize plant stress, and these plants need protection if temperatures will be unseasonably cold to prevent foliage damage. Humidity typically isn’t an issue for these shrubs. 


To encourage healthy growth and profuse flowering, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to arrowwood viburnum 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’): This compact cultivar of arrowwood viburnum grows with blue fruits in the fall and reaches 5 to 7 feet in height and 4 to 6 feet in width.
  • 'Autumn Jazz' (V. dentatum ‘Ralph Senior’): A larger shrub, this variety grows 6 to 10 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide with a striking range of fall colors, which include yellow, orange, red, and burgundy.
  • 'Northern Burgundy®' (V. dentatum 'Morton'): This cultivar of arrowwood viburnum grows with a burgundy color in the fall, and it typically grows 10 to 12 feet tall.


Arrowwood viburnum shrubs don’t need extensive pruning. Right after the plant is done flowering, prune any stems necessary to maintain the shrub’s shape. 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

Arrowwood viburnum can be propagated via softwood or hardwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings can be taken in the spring or early summer, while hardwood cuttings should be taken during the winter dormant season or early spring just before the plant begins actively growing again. Here's how:

  1. For softwood cuttings, take a cutting of a vigorous branch between 4 and 6 inches in length using clean gardening shears. Remove leaves from the lower third. For hardwood cuttings, choose a strong stem and cut 8 to 10 inches of it with your shears, then strip the leaves from the bottom half and make sure to include at least a few leaf 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 (for softwood cuttings, this takes about four weeks). 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 the cutting in a spot that provides bright, indirect light.
  6. 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 to 10 days.

How to Grow Arrowwood Viburnum From Seed

Growing viburnum from seed is possible, but it's a lengthy and finicky process that most gardeners do not attempt. Because propagation from cuttings is fairly easy and has a good success rate, it is the propagation method of choice.

Potting and Repotting Arrowwood Viburnum

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. Pot the plant in moist, well-drained soil with an acidic pH. If the plant visibly starts to outgrow its pot or roots begin growing from the top or bottom of the pot, repot it in a container one to two sizes larger.


Arrowwood viburnum is a winter-hardy shrub that can tolerate temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit in its coldest growing region, USDA hardiness zone 2. These tough plants do not need winter protection.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Arrowwood viburnum shrubs don’t have serious issues with most 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. 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. 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 can also kill beneficial insects.

How to Get Arrowwood Viburnum to Bloom

Bloom Months

Arrowwood viburnum blooms in the late spring, which can range from March to May depending on the hardiness zone it's grown in.

How Long Does Arrowwood Viburnum Bloom?

Arrowwood viburnum continues to produce flowers throughout the growing season from late spring until mid summer or longer.

What Do Arrowwood Viburnum's Flowers Look and Smell Like?

Arrowwood viburnum bears showy white spring flowers that stretch roughly 2 to 4 inches across. The flowers do not have much fragrance. In the fall, the shrub’s foliage turns to shades of yellow, orange, and red.

How to Encourage More Blooms

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.

Deadheading Arrowwood Viburnum Flowers

After the plant is finished blooming, gardeners can deadhead arrowwood viburnum flowers. Remove dead flowers and trim back any stems to maintain the plant's shape.

Common Problems With Arrowwood Viburnum

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

  • Does arrowwood viburnum spread?

    Arrowwood viburnum spreads via suckers traveling through the soil and can reach widths of 15 feet at maturity. To discourage spreading past the plant's mature size, prune back suckers as they sprout up.

  • How long does it take for viburnum to reach full size?

    Viburnum plants typically grow about 2 feet per year, a moderate growth rate for outdoor plants. Varieties like arrowwood viburnum may take seven to eight years to reach their mature size of 15 feet.

  • Is arrowwood viburnum an evergreen?

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

  • What is the lifespan of viburnum?

    The lifespan of viburnum plants depends on the specific variety, but some viburnum species can live up to 150 years. Most viburnums live closer to 50 years when cared for properly, grown in their native growing zones, and planted in areas with the right amount of light exposure.

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Article Sources
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  1. Viburnum Leaf Beetle. University of Wisconsin-Madison.