November, 2019: Alleghany Viburnum
Boulder Colorado area landscapes – plant of the month
Lantanaphyllum viburnum or Alleghany Viburnum is a large deciduous flowering shrub that does well in part sun to shade. In the Eastern US, it can be grown in full sun, but here in our Boulder Colorado landscapes, with our intense sunshine, it is best to afford it some protection from sun and wind. Large leathery, somewhat fuzzy leaves emerge in mid spring then quickly large flat topped white flowers emerge which give way to green berries that turn red and then ripen to black in the fall. The species is somewhat evergreen in that it attempts, in some warmer winters, to hold onto its leaves. The result in Colorado is usually somewhat unattractive. However, this plant is still a noteworthy addition to any landscape because of its tolerance of shade. Landscape designers sometimes struggle to find enough diversity with shade tolerant plant material that does well here in Colorado. So, don’t be offset by that characteristic and consider a spot for them in a spacious area of the yard. They get big. 8’-10’ high and wide is not uncommon, and sometimes larger, as seen in the picture.
They will take a moderate amount of water, but can survive on less. They are not xeric in the sense that they will need additional water on top of what falls naturally here in Boulder, Longmont or Erie. They should be pruned right after they flower, since they set their next year’s flowers in mid-summer. They are rather dense, so they lend themselves to being good candidates for hedges or privacy screening. If room allows, plant them so they can retain their natural shape. Vase shaped pruning is often nice with these so other companion perennials can be planted beneath. Do be careful when pruning to not shake and disturb the plant much because there are very fine hairs on each new leaf in the spring that will be sent floatin floating into the air. Breathing them may be problematic for some, and others have reported allergic type rash and skin reactions. This fuzzy or hairy leaf will persist into early fall. A recent pruning experience exposed this for a second time, but precautionary actions were taken first and no breathing issues ensued. So, despite its cautions, it is still a pretty and uniformly dense shrub to have in the landscape. Really though, do take precautions when pruning. Be gentle.
If finding large flowering shrubs for a shady spot has been a challenge, consider Alleghany Viburnum. The few negatives are definitely offset by the dense showy white flowers and deep rich green leaves of summer that they can add to the garden. Plant one or three in your Boulder, Colorado area landscape soon.
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