Get ready for a traffic-stopping berry show when you add Viburnum nudum to your garden. Also known as smooth witherod viburnum, this native shrub easily earns a place in any landscape. It stages the showiest fruit display of all the viburnum shrubs, with berries that shift from neon pink to robin egg blue to bright purple. Witherod viburnum is also versatile in the landscape, growing well in a variety of conditions.
Viburnum nudum is one of the unsung—and underused—heroes of the viburnum family. It’s a native shrub in the Northeast and Southeast, from Connecticut to Florida and west to Louisiana. Viburnum nudum usually grows in a woodland setting, but is also commonly found in moist sites like swamps and bogs. It’s clearly versatile in its moisture needs, adapting from heavily wet conditions to drier ones. This makes it a great candidate for a rain garden.
Like many viburnum shrubs, smooth witherod viburnum opens flowers in spring. Viburnum nudum is actually one of the last viburnums to bloom, opening its blossoms in late spring to early summer. The flowers are white and create a pretty scene, but the big draw occurs when flowers fade to form fruit.
The fruit clusters on Viburnum nudum bring outstanding color to the landscape. When fruits first form, they sizzle in bright pink shades. As fruits ripen, they shift to robin egg blue and then grape purple hues. In one fruit cluster, it’s not unusual to have all three colors showing at once. It’s garden eye candy at its finest.
The one problem with Viburnum nudum is that many gardeners report that their shrubs don’t consistently form fruit. This has been a problem with some of the varieties developed using Viburnum nudum, too. Some varieties of Viburnum nudum are more self-sterile than others. What that means is that you may need another Viburnum nudum or a closely related viburnum to help pollinate your Viburnum nudum.
Solve this problem by asking questions when you purchase Viburnum nudum. Many nurseries can help direct you to a pollinating partner, a viburnum that flowers at the same time as Viburnum nudum. Some companies are now selling what’s called “Viburnum nudum pollinator.”
Viburnum nudum plants grow 6 to 8 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide. They grow well in full sun to light shade. One tip for success with Viburnum nudum is providing acid soil. Smooth witherod viburnum is sensitive to alkaline soil (high pH), so it’s important to test your soil and make sure you follow the test result recommendations to create an acid pH.