The Plant Native

Arrowwood Viburnum

Highlights

Arrowwood Viburnum is a native shrub that dramatically changes throughout the year, moving from showy blossoms to glossy leaves to berry-laden branches. It’s a bird magnet. They can get very tall: 10-15 feet. Plant these along your property line, under taller trees, or against buildings, and watch the birds go wild. Discover planting tips and varieties below.

Full Sun – Part Shade
10-15′ tall
Berries appear in the fall
Viburnum dentatum

Dig Deeper

Explore the history, types, and where to plant native Arrowwood Viburnum

Table of Contents

Why is it important to plant native plants like Arrowwood Viburnum?

Planting native plants makes our yards and spaces gorgeous while helping the birds, butterflies, and animals (and helping save us time!) Here are three reasons why planting native is worth it:

  1. Without native plants, iconic animals like Monarch butterflies and songbirds won’t have the food or homes needed to survive
  2. Native plants save time and money: after the first year of getting established, native plants are happy with rain
  3. Native plants are gorgeous! Arrowwood Viburnum is a perfect example of how beautiful and resilient native plants are—they are always the best choice for our gardens.
Arrowwood Viburnum is a host plant for the Spring Azure butterfly

Arrowwood Viburnum is a host plant for Spring Azure butterflies

If you need one more reason to plant this easy-going shrub, here it is: Arrowwood Viburnum is a host plant for Spring Azure butterflies. A host plant is a specific plant that a bug or butterfly lays its eggs on. Without host plants like Arrowwood Viburnum, we would not have Spring Azure butterflies.

Arrowwood Viburnum also goes by ‘Southern Arrowwood’

One of the challenging things about plant names is that often a single plant can have many common names, or names given by the generations before. This plant is often called ‘Arrowwood Viburnum’ in the Northeast and ‘Southern Arrowwood’ in the South.

We know—how confusing is that?! To help bring clarity, a single botanic naming system was created in the 1600s. In this system, every plant has only one name in Latin.

This plant’s Latin name is Viburnum dentatum. If you want to make sure you’re getting a specific plant, look for the Latin name.

There are dozens of other native viburnums to consider

Arrowwood Viburnum is one of the many viburnums that are native to North America. There are even native viburnums that offer edible berries! Visit our guide to native viburnums to learn more.

For this article, let’s focus on Arrowwood Viburnum. Here’s how they change throughout the year:

Arrowwood Viburnums throughout the seasons

Arrowwood Viburnums look fantastic no matter the season.

Spring

In the spring, palm-sized white blossoms are covered with pollinators.

Summer

The flowers slowly turn into berries, while the tree is filled with bright green leaves.

Fall

The leaves turn firey shades of orange and red, and the branches are filled with hungry birds.

How did Arrowwood Viburnum get its name?

The plant’s name comes from its history as a useful plant for indigenous people. Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) is named for its wood, which grows very straight and was used by Native Americans to make arrows. The wood of Arrowwood Viburnum is strong and flexible, making it ideal for creating arrows for hunting. The wood of the shrub is also durable and is often used for making tool handles and other wooden objects.

Native range map from the USDA

Where is Arrowwood Viburnum native?

Arrowwood Viburnum is native to a huge part of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Southern United States.

How to plant Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood Viburnum is a perfect plant for beginner gardeners. It thrives in a wide range of sunlight—from full sun to part shade. Once you’ve found a spot to plant one…

  1. Choose a location with well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.
  2. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and just deep enough to accommodate the root ball at the soil level.
  3. Remove the plant from its container and gently loosen any tangled roots.
  4. Place the Arrowwood Viburnum in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.
  5. Fill the hole with soil, gently tamping it down as you go to remove any air pockets.
  6. Water the Arrowwood Viburnum thoroughly to settle the soil and hydrate the roots.

Where should I plant Arrowwood Viburnum?

Arrowwood Viburnum is a great native shrub that some landscapers call indestructible since it thrives with minimal care. Ideas for planting include:

  • Front-yard landscaping
  • Pollinator gardens
  • Hedgerows
  • Privacy fences (pair with evergreen natives like Mountain Laurel, native rhododendrons for maximum coverage)

What should I pair with Arrowwood Viburnum?

There are so many fantastic pairings for Arrowwood Viburnum! For an incredible fall garden, pair with Black-Eyed Susans and Asters. If you have a trellis or fence nearby, you’ve got to plant American Wisteria or Coral Honeysuckle. If you’re planting in a part-shade area, Heuchera, Mountain Laurel, and native Azaleas are perfect. Or, plant a Southern Catalpa tree, and put a garden in the sky.

Heuchera 'Green-Spice' by Patrick Standish

Alum Root (Heuchera)

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American Wisteria

native-aster-flowers-with-a-butterfly-garden

Aster

flame-azalea-native-plant-shrub

Azalea

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Black-Eyed Susan

coral-honeysuckle-with-a-hummingbird-native-vine

Coral Honeysuckle

mountain-laurel-native-shrub-flower

Mountain Laurel

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Southern Catalpa

To sum it all up: Arrowwood Viburnum is a perfect shrub to grow in a wide range of environments, especially if you like birds! It changes throughout the seasons, offering lots to enjoy in your landscape. Consider replacing a boring, always-the-same-looking nonnative shrub (like boxwoods!) with an Arrowwood Viburnum. The birds will thank you, and you’ll be delighted to watch the show as the seasons change. Happy planting!

UPDATED —
02/19/2024
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