Caring For Viburnum Dentatum

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Viburnum Dentatum (vy-BURN-num, den-TAY-tum) is a perennial flowering shrub from the Adoxaceae or the moschatel family. 

It belongs to the genus Viburnum, which was previously considered a part of the Caprifoliaceae or honeysuckle family but was then reevaluated and reclassified on the basis of molecular phylogeny.

Berries on viburnum dentatumBerries on viburnum dentatum

Viburnum is the Latin name for the Wayfaring tree and Dentatum means toothed referring to its toothed leaves.

The plant is native to eastern North America, where it is found growing in Canada and the eastern United States. 

Within the United States, the plant is widespread across Maine in the north to northern Florida and eastern Texas in the south. 

However, in the wild, this North American native plant is only found to exist in Missouri where it is seen growing on wooded slopes and on stream banks, particularly alongside the Salt River.

Several localized variations of viburnum dentatum are also found throughout its native range. 

While they share many qualities and properties, they have different sizes of leaves. 

Another primary difference between the local variations of v. dentatum is the shape and location of pubescence – small, fine, soft, hair – on petioles and the undersides of the leaves.

Like most plant species, viburnum dentatum has gained several common names, over the years. 

These include:

  • Arrowwood viburnum
  • Southern arrowwood
  • Roughish arrowwood

The plant also two subspecies – Viburnum dentatum dentatum and Viburnum dentatum lucidum (also called smooth arrowwood).

Viburnum Dentatum Care

Size & Growth

Arrowwood viburnum is a multi-stemmed, flowering, deciduous shrub that typically grows up to 6’ to 10’ feet tall and often has a similar spread. 

However, when grown in optimum conditions, it may grow up to 15’ feet tall. 

Upon maturity, the plant forms a dense rounded shrub with erect, arching stems and is characterized by its attractive color-changing foliage.

Like most other viburnum species, the leaves of arrowwood plant are simple, ovate, toothed, and oppositely arranged. 

They are glossy dark green but turn yellow to red in late fall.

The plant displays a moderate to fast growth rate.

Flowering and Fragrance

Roughish arrowwood produces small white flowers with yellow stamens in flat-topped corymbs (flower clusters), in late spring or early summer. 

The bloom time typically lasts from May to June or July. 

While the blooming period of the arrowwood plant is short and the creamy white flowers are small and non-fragrant, they are showy. 

The white flower color looks great against white and red foliage. 

The plant makes a great display during the bloom time.

Flowering season is followed by the production of blue-black drupes. 

The berry-like fruits attract birds and wildlife.

Light & Temperature

V. dentatum can be grown easily in full sun to partial shade. 

To get the best results, grow the plant at a location where it receives direct full sun for at least 6 hours daily and part shade for at least 4 to 6 hours a day.

It is also highly winter-hardy and can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 8.

Watering and Feeding

While the plant appreciates consistently moist soil, it develops some drought tolerance once established. 

However, make sure to supply an adequate amount of water regularly to young plants.

The viburnum plant benefits from the application of a light mulch layer as it helps it to adapt to changes in soil temperature along with moisture conservation. 

It also benefits from the annual feeding. 

Apply a slow-release all-purpose (10-10-10) fertilizer around the base of the plant in the fall season.

Soil & Transplanting

Viburnum dentatum doesn’t have specific soil requirements. 

The plant generally grows well in any average soil type but prefers moist loamy soil. 

Also, it cannot tolerate soil with poor drainage, make sure the soil is well-drained.

The plant responds well to transplantation that can be done in spring or fall.

Grooming and Maintenance

Viburnum dentatum is a low-maintenance plant and requires minimal care once established. 

However, you may prune to maintain a tidy appearance.  

Also, if you wish to keep the plant limited to a specific area and not spread too much, remove its suckers.

When needed, pruning should be done immediately after the flowering season.

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How to Propagate Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood viburnum can be grown from seeds or propagated by stem cuttings – the latter being the preferred method because seeds often take long to germinate.

To grow from seeds, collect the fruits after they have ripened and let them dry out in a cool location before planting them in pots.

It is recommended to not store the seeds of the Arrowood plant because the seeds need a period of stratification for successful germination.

For propagation through stem cuttings, take cuttings from healthy node branches by cutting just below the nodes using a sharp knife. 

Treat the cut ends with a rooting hormone before planting.

Arrowwood Viburnum Pest or Diseases

Roughish arrowwood doesn’t normally get affected by any serious pest or disease. 

However, it is suggested to watch out for whiteflies.

The black-blue fruits of southern arrowwood serve as a food source for oscines, commonly known as songbirds. 

The flowers, on the other hand, serve as a nectar source for bees.

In addition to this, larvae of several moth species also feed on the arrowwood plant. 

The most common ones include Phyllonorycter viburnella and Metaxaglaea inulta, commonly known as the arrowwood sallow and unsated sallow.

Like most other viburnum plant types, v. dentatum also often becomes a target of Pyrrhalta viburni – a beetle species commonly known as the viburnum leaf beetle. 

It is, however, tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Viburnum Dentatum Uses

The changing foliage color, the variable fall color, and winter hardiness make southern arrowwood a good choice for growing in gardens for ornamental purposes. 

Since it grows as a dense shrub, it can be used for shrub borders, screens, tall hedges, and as background for other plants.

The black-blue berries attract wildlife, birds, and butterflies, making it a good choice for wildlife gardens and butterfly gardens as well.  

The birds and animals also serve as pollinators for this viburnum species.

While it is only grown for ornamental purposes in modern times, some Native American tribes used to make arrow shafts from the young stems of this viburnum species. 

This is where the name arrowwood has come from.

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