Korean spice viburnum shrubs

Korean Spice Carlesii Viburnum

Korean Spice Carlesii Viburnum Flowering Shrubs

The Korean Spice Carlesii Viburnum is shorter growing than the Judd Viburnum, but packs a huge punch as a fragrant flowering shrub. March and April will find your Carlesii Viburnum covered with cluster like blooms up to 3 inches across. Large broad, oval dark green leaves with serrated edges provide an excellent backdrop for the clustered white blooms. Prune after flowering to remove dead or broken branches and for shape as the plant will set buds by mid to late summer.

Do you have black walnut trees growing in your yard? Then, you’ll be thrilled to know that the Korean Spice Viburnum tolerates the juglone poison of the Black Walnut tree. Plant in full to part sun. You’ll enjoy how the blue-black fruit that appears in late summer attracts birds to your yard.

This Korean spice grows into the 4 to 6 foot height range and 4 to 7 feet wide. The dark green foliage turns red in fall…sometimes wine to burgundy shades. An excellent spring flowering shrub that is sure to be an attraction year after year. Pairs nicely with the Juddi Viburnum.

Koreanspice Viburnum Care: Growing Koreanspice Viburnum Plants

The Koreanspice viburnum is a medium sized deciduous shrub that produces beautiful, fragrant flowers. With its small size, dense growing pattern and showy flowers, it’s an excellent choice for a specimen shrub as well as border plant. So how do you go about growing Koreanspice viburnum in your garden? Keep reading to learn more Koreanspice viburnum information.

Koreanspice Viburnum Information

Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) is one of over 150 known Viburnum plant species and cultivars. While viburnums can be both deciduous and evergreen and reach up to 30 feet in height, Koreanspice viburnum plants are deciduous and known for their relatively small, compact growing habit. They tend to grow to between 3 and 5 feet tall and wide, but they can reach as high as 8 feet in ideal growing conditions.

Koreanspice viburnum plants produce 2- to 3-inch wide clusters of small flowers that begin pink and open to white in early to mid-spring. The flowers give off a rich scent that is similar to spice cake. These flowers are followed by blue-black berries. The 4-inch leaves are ridged and deep green. In autumn, they turn deep red to purple.

How to Grow Koreanspice Viburnums

The best conditions for growing Koreanspice viburnum plants include moist but well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade.

Koreanspice viburnum care is very minimal. The plants don’t need much in the way of watering, and they suffer from very few pest and disease problems. They are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, but they may need some winter protection, especially from the wind, in colder zones.

Koreanspice viburnum plants should be pruned in the spring immediately after flowering has ended. The pruned green cuttings can be used effectively as starts if you’re looking to propagate new plants.

Viburnums Are Versatile Shrubs

Viburnums that excel from season to season

I would be hard pressed to pick just a handful of exceptional viburnums, so this hefty chart lists a few dozen. Bloom times are for Zone 6. Semi-evergreen means that the shrub holds some or all of its leaves in a mild winter. Unless noted, viburnums grow well in moist, well-drained soil in full sun, but will also tolerate partial shade. North American native viburnums and their cultivars are indicated by an asterisk.

V. carlesii (Mayflower viburnum, Korean spice viburnum)
Height and width: 10-12 x 7-8 ft. Flowers: pink buds open white, very fragrant snowballs. Bloom time: May. Fruit: red to blac. Comments: dense shrub with upright spreading branches. Zones: 4-7

V. carlesii ‘Compactum’
Height and width: 4 x 4 ft. Flowers: pink buds open white, very fragrant. Bloom time: May. Fruit: red to black. Comments: very dark-green foliage turns wine-red in fall; excellent for borders. Zones: 4-7

V. opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ (yellow-fruited European cranberry bush)
Height and width: 6 x 6 ft. Flowers: white lacecap. Bloom time: Ma. Fruit: yellow fruit, persistent. Comments: excellent compact form; lime-green foliage turns yellow in fal. Zones: 3-7

V. opulus ‘Nanum’ (dwarf European cranberry bush)
Height and width: 2 x 3 ft. Flowers: white snowball. Bloom time: May. Fruit: rarely produces frui. Comments: excellent fall color; good for small hedge; does not tolerate wet soil. Zones: 3-7

V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Newport’ (doublefile viburnum)
Height and width: 5 x 5 ft. Flowers: white snowball; light fragrance. Bloom time: Ma. Fruit: rarely produces fruit. Comments: dark-green leaves turn burgundy in fal. Zones: 5-8

V. sargentii ‘Onondaga’ (‘Onondaga’ Sargent viburnum)
Height and width: 12 x 6 ft. Flowers: maroon lacecap flower with white floret. Bloom time: Ma. Fruit: scarlet. Comments: new foliage is maroon; must have moist soil. Zones: 3-7

V. trilobum ‘Wentworth’ (Wentworth cranberry bush)
Height and width: 8 x 6 ft. Flowers: white lacecap. Bloom time: May. Fruit: yellow to bright red, persisten. Comments: red fall color; excellent for winter garden. Zones: 2-7

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum in bloom

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum in bloom

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum flowers

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 5 feet

Spread: 5 feet


Hardiness Zone: 5a

Other Names: Koreanspice Viburnum, Korean Spice


A smaller and dense mounded shrub with small intoxicatingly fragrant white flowers on stiff upright branches, followed by blue berries; perfect for small groupings; wine red fall color

Growing Place Choice Plants

Our Growing Place Choice plants are chosen because they are strong performers year after year, staying attractive with less maintenance when planted in the right place.

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Ornamental Features

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum is bathed in stunning balls of fragrant white flowers with pink overtones at the ends of the branches in mid spring, which emerge from distinctive red flower buds. It has green foliage throughout the season. The small oval leaves turn brick red in fall. The black fruits are held in clusters from late summer to late fall.

Landscape Attributes

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum is a dense multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with a more or less rounded form. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season’s flowers. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use

Planting & Growing

Compact Koreanspice Viburnum will grow to be about 5 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet. It has a low canopy, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.

Plant Database


  • native to Korea
  • zone 5, or warmer parts of 4

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous small shrub
  • multistemmed
  • 4′ to 6′ tall with an equal width
  • rounded shrub with upright spreading branches
  • slow growth rate
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • deciduous leaves in an opposite arrangement
  • simple leaves with irregular toothing
  • elliptical leaf shape with rounded leaf base
  • 2″ to 4″ long and 1″ by 2.5″ wide
  • dense pubescent on underside of leaf with some pubescence on upperside of leaf as well
  • dull green color

Autumn Foliage

  • reddish fall color
  • not reliable


  • perfect pinkish white flowers
  • individual flowers are small only 0.5′ in diameter
  • blooms late April
  • flowers are borne in dense cymes, up to 3″ in diameter
  • fragrant


  • small, egg-shaped drupe
  • red maturing to black
  • matures August to September


  • gray and fissuring
  • young stems have pubescence
  • two types of buds; vegetative and reproductive
  • vegetative buds are naked and downy
  • reproductive buds are large clusters


  • prefers well-drained, mildly acidic soil
  • full sun to partial shade
  • flowers on new wood
  • buy plants on their own rootstocks to avoid sucking

Landscape Use

  • shrub borders
  • for fragrant flowers
  • mass plantings
  • for fruiting effect


  • bacterial leaf spot
  • nematodes
  • rootstocks tend to sucker

ID Features

  • fragrant flowers
  • vegetative buds are naked and downy
  • reproductive buds are large clusters
  • small, black, egg-shaped drupe
  • deciduous leaves in an opposite arrangement
  • simple leaves with irregular toothing


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


‘Aurora’ – A newer selection that is gaining a foothold in American horticulture, this selection has a superior floral display. The clusters are larger with pink-white blooms that open from deep pink buds. The fragrance is very strong. The plant grows larger, to 8′ tall.

‘Compactum’ – A very fine plant that was originally introduced by a Rhode Island nursery in 1953, this dwarf form offers fragrant spring blooms on a plant that seldom exceeds 3′ tall and wide. The foliage is a healthy dark green and disease resistant.

‘Cayuga’ – This hybrid selection (with V. carlcephalum) was introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum and is considered a superior plant. It is a larger, dense grower that reaches 5′ tall with reddish fall color. Early spring is greeted by white flowers arranged in globular cluster that emerge from pink buds.

Viburnum carlesii

  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Shrub Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Rounded Growth Rate: Slow Maintenance: Low Texture: Medium
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Black Blue Display/Harvest Time: Fall Summer Fruit Type: Drupe Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: 0.3 in. red drupe turns bluish-black in fall
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Pink White Flower Inflorescence: Cyme Flower Value To Gardener: Fragrant Showy Flower Shape: Tubular Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: Inflorescence is a dense, terminal, hemispherical cyme, 2-3 inches across. Flowers are pinkish to red in bud, white, fragrant, to half an inch.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Brown/Copper Gray/Silver Green Deciduous Leaf Fall Color: Brown/Copper Red/Burgundy Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Shape: Elliptical Ovate Leaf Margin: Serrate Hairs Present: Yes Leaf Length: 3-6 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: 2-4 inch long dull dark green to gray-green leaves in pairs, that are copper-colored when young. Undersides are pubescent. Not reliable for fall color.
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No
  • Landscape: Landscape Theme: Cottage Garden Design Feature: Hedge Specimen Resistance To Challenges: Deer

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