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What is This Fragrant Spring Blooming Viburnum?

By: Jessie Keith

Spice Girl® Koreanspice viburnum is an exceptional garden variety. (Image from Proven Winners)

“A friend of mine has a viburnum shrub. Its short-lived blooms smell very much like lilacs. He can’t remember the name of it. Do you have any ideas, as I’d really love to get one? Many thanks!” Question from Diane or Newark, Ohio

Answer: It sounds like he has one of the very fragrant viburnums called Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii). It is one of the most nicely scented of all viburnums, with its powerful, sweet, spicy scent that fills the air in spring. It is a non-invasive Asian native that reaches a maximum of 6 feet high. Its clusters of pink-tinged white blooms appear from March to April and are followed by attractive fuzzy foliage that turns dull red or reddish-purple in fall. Pollinated flowers sometimes produce clusters of blackish-blue fruits. If you have a smaller garden, there is a variety called ‘Compactum’ that reaches just 4 feet at maturity. Proven Winners’ Spice Girl® is another great variety with especially bright red autumn foliage as well as spectacular pinkish-white flower clusters.

Click here for shrub planting guidelines!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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