Everything You Need to Know About Viburnum Flower Meaning, Symbolism, Types, and Growing Tips

Landscaping flowers are often overlooked as rich sources of symbolism and meaning, but their blossoms can be as meaningful as other cut flowers. Viburnum is a good example of this concept because they’re both a widely used ornamental shrub and a flower that’s rich in history. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Viburnum flower meaning, their botanical characteristics, popular types, and growing tips at home.

Viburnum Flower – the Essentials

Viburnum flowers produce white or pink blossoms that carry the meaning of innocence, purity, and calmness. The plants are native to North America, Asia, and Africa. They’re mostly shrubs with clustered flowers growing on the ends of the stems, although some varieties have other habits.

About Viburnum

About Viburnum

Viburnum – Family, Genus, and Taxonomy

Viburnum is a genus of plants that includes over 150 different species of shrubs. Most of them are evergreens in their native climates, but some are deciduous instead. It was once believed to be a part of the larger honeysuckle family, but now it is categorized in the Adoxaceae family. This makes it related to elderberries.

Botanical Characteristics, Colors, Fragrances, and Toxicity

Unlike other similar-looking flowering shrubs, Viburnums are easily identified by their opposite leaves. The leaves can be toothed or simple with many different shapes and colors, but they’re all on long stems that support dense clusters of small flowers. 

Some Viburnums have showy flowers with unusual shapes, while others are primarily grown for colorful fruits instead. Flower colors tend to be white, red, or purple, with fruit colors offering green and blue as well. 

Most Viburnum fruits are mildly poisonous, but some species are edible with the right preparation. A few varieties feature highly fragrant flowers and are popular for that reason alone.

Etymological Meaning

The name Viburnum comes from the Latin for “wandering tree”. While most of the plants in the genus are shrubs, some do take the form of small trees. The wandering part of the name likely refers to the plant’s habit of spreading easily as birds consume the fruit.

What Regions Are Viburnum Flowers Native To?

Each Viburnum species has a different native range. Many come from the temperate parts of North America, including the United States. Other more tropical species originate in Africa, southeast Asia, and South America.

When Are Viburnum Flowers in Season?

Most Viburnums blooms the heaviest in spring. Some hold their fruits over the summer and into the fall, while later flowering varieties may keep the fruit over the winter. Some viburnum only bloom briefly in the fall.

There are many Viburnums popular for landscaping and cut flowers, but some of the most widely grown include:

Viburnum davidii 

Viburnum davidii

The Viburnum davidii showcase small white flowers, bright blue berries, and glossy dark green leaves

Viburnum macrocephalum

Viburnum macrocephalum

The viburnum macrocephalum is one of the most popular with big round clusters of bright white flowers and bright green leaves

Viburnum plicatum

Viburnum plicatum

Viburnum plicatum showcases white blossoms that are spread along the long branches and mixed with the wide leaves.

Specific varieties of these species are generally chosen for their colorful and long-lasting fruits. ‘Blueberry Muffin’ is a popular choice for its clusters of bright blue berries, while ‘Xanthocarpum’ offers bright yellow fruit instead.

Uses and Benefits of Viburnum Flowers

Uses and Benefits of Viburnum Flowers

Viburnum shrubs and their flowers are primarily used for decorative purposes around the landscape. They’re also recommended for enriching the local habitat conditions. The plants can help butterflies, bees, and birds thanks to the combination of flowers and fruits. Most plants are mildly toxic, but some produce edible berries as well.

Viburnum Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Viburnum Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Common Viburnum Flower Colors and Their Meaning & Symbolism

Most Viburnum flowers are bright white. This means that these flowers share in the general color symbolism of innocence, purity, and calmness. Other blossoms are available in shades of pink and mauve. Lighter and brighter pink flowers carry the color meaning of happiness, joy, gracefulness, and youth. Darker mauve colors indicate a more mature sort of happiness and can indicate your admiration for someone.

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Viburnum Flowers

One of the most meaningful forms of Viburnum is also known as the guelder rose. Also known as Viburnum opulus, this part of the genus has clusters of white flowers and bright red berries. 

It’s best known as one of the traditional symbols of Ukraine, with it woven deeply into their folklore. Its importance as a symbol dates back to the country’s pagan history. The bright red berries were linked with the immortal fire illuminating heavenly bodies like the sun and stars. Ritual clothing and altar cloths crafted for traditional events often feature the bright red berries worked into the designs or the white flowers the plant is known for.

Russian culture also holds this plant particularly symbolic. It’s linked with passionate love in their mythology instead. It’s not surprising due to the bright red color of the berries. Yet even other viburnum blossoms are considered romantic in symbolism due to this connection. 

Most art and literature that mentions these flowers are from either Russia or Ukraine due to these strong links.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Viburnum Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Viburnum Flowers

Freshly cut viburnums are great for gifting as a bouquet to show you care about someone. White blossoms can be sent to wish peace and healing on someone grieving, or the pink variety can be used to celebrate someone’s joyful events. The Viburnum flower meaning is versatile enough to help you send the right message by combining them with other flowers.

How to Grow and Care for Viburnum Flowers at Home

How to Grow and Care for Viburnum Flowers at Home

What Growing Zones Are Suitable for Viburnum Flowers?

Most viburnum varieties thrive in hardiness zones 4 through 8. A few are hardy to zone 3, although these species tend to only bloom for a few years and then give out. 

More tropical varieties are still limited to zones 8 and 9 because they simply don’t do well in very hot and humid areas. If you want to grow one outside of these zones, keep it potted and bring it in during the winter and summer.

Where Should I Plant Viburnum Flowers?

Compact Viburnum species only grow a few feet tall, so they should do well in pots and other containers. Avoid hanging baskets since they’re too large for that. 

Beds and planters are a good choice where they can stand out above spreading and low-growing bedding plants. Try planting one of the more fragrant varieties near a path or front door to appreciate its scent.

Soil, Light, Watering, and Fertilizing Considerations

Soil:Moist, slightly acidic, loose, and well-draining, rich in organic material but not too fertile
Light:Full sun to partial shade for some darker colored varieties
Water:Water daily for the first few weeks, then taper off to watering weekly once it begins growing. After six months, only water once a month if the plants droop.
Fertilizer:Feed the plants with a mild general use shrub fertilizer in the spring as leaves emerge and the flowers begin budding. Stop fertilizing as blooming begins.

How to Care for Fresh Cut Viburnum Flowers

How to Care for Fresh Cut Viburnum Flowers

Like other woody shrubs, flowers cut from Viburnums can last for weeks if the water is changed daily. Try adding a few drops of bleach or vinegar to get the flowers to last with only water changes every few days. 

A sprinkle of sugar in the water can keep the flowers perked up for longer, but it can also trigger bacteria growth. Make sure to change the water often if you add sugar or any other mixtures to maintain cut flowers over longer periods.

Wrap Up

Viburnums are beautiful shrubs with a rich history behind their eye-catching flowers and fruit. Some species also have brightly colored foliage in the fall, making them a year-round beauty. Consider adding some to your landscape if you live in the right growing zones.

Petal Republic’s flower and plant guides:

Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert flower guides to Roses, Bouvardia, Acanthus, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Borage, Clovers, Freesia, Anemone, Begonia, Orchids, Allium, Carnations, Coreopsis, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.  


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