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Viburnum x bodnantense: growing & caring for the Bodnant viburnum

Even when the rest of the garden is still in hibernation, the Viburnum x bodnantense enchants with full, pink flowers. As it flowers in winter, it is also appealing to bees.

Bodnant viburnum flowering
Viburnum x bodnantense flowers before most other plants [Photo: Ole Schoener/ Shutterstock.com]

The Bodnant viburnum is a low-maintenance and magnificent ornamental shrub that is suitable for any garden or as a pot plant. Find out everything about this winter-flowering plant.

Viburnum x bodnantense: flowering time and characteristics

The Bodnant viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense) belongs to the moschatel family (Adoxaceae). This beautiful shrub was cultivated at Bodnant Garden in North Wales and has received the Royal Horticultural Society’s award of garden merit. The Bodnant viburnum is a hybrid of the Farrer viburnum (Viburnum farreri) and the Viburnum grandiflorum.

The Bodnant viburnum is an ornamental shrub and can be found in many parks and gardens. It grows rather slowly and needs about 10 to 20 years to reach its maximum size. When mature, it develops a dense bushy spread of up to 3 metres, so allow sufficient space at the sides when planting. In summer, the Viburnum x bodnantense has stunning deep green foliage. The leaves adorn the red twigs and can have a wide variety of shapes. If you rub a leaf between your fingers, you can detect a distinctive, sometimes unpleasant smell. In autumn, the foliage turns striking shades of red and purple and is in no way inferior to the pink flowers in terms of beauty.

Greens leaves on the Bodnant viburnum
Bodnant viburnum’s leaves are an eye-catcher with their red stems [Photo: Cristi Croitoru/ Shutterstock.com]

The magnificent pink and white flowers can be seen from January to April – in mild winters even as early as November. The unusual flowering time was created by crossing the Farrer viburnum, which already flowers in November, with the Viburnum grandiflorum, which flowers in spring. The flowers are a deep rich pink at the beginning and become a lighter delicate pale pink when then buds are fully open. Not only do these flowers look sublime, but they also have a divine fragrance of vanilla or cloves depending on the variety.

What does the Viburnum x bodnantense look like in summer? In summer, Bodnant viburnum’s flowering period is already over, and it bears small round berries. They are first red and turn, when ripe, dark blue and lightly frosted.

Viburnum x bodnantense flowers
The flowers develop into fruit in summer [Photo: nnattalli/ Shutterstock.com]

The most beautiful varieties

In addition to the original species, there are also some Viburnum x bodnantense varieties that differ mainly in terms of flower colour and flowering time. Here are some particularly beautiful varieties.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’: The variety Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has pale, almost white, pink flowers and blooms from November to mid-April. Its strong fragrance attracts many insects.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Deben’: The variety ‘Deben’ has a somewhat shorter flowering time between February and April. The flowers are light pink.

Viburnum bodnantense Dawn in flower
Some varieties have almost white blooms [Photo: John C Evans/ Shutterstock.com]

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’: From January to April Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ shows its pretty pink flowers. It grows about as wide as it is tall.

Pink flowers on Bodnant viburnum
Other varieties have bright pink blooms [Photo: Adrienne Kulcsar/ Shutterstock.com]

Planting Viburnum x bodnantense: where and how

The Bodnant viburnum likes a sunny to partially shady spot. A certain amount of sunlight and warmth are essential for the beautiful flowers to develop. Its soil requirements are not very specific. We recommend a well-draining, nutrient-rich, moist and slightly acidic soil. If the soil is not perfectly suitable, the Viburnum x bodnantense will forgive these circumstances, but it may not develop as splendidly. If the soil is very dry, place the plant in partial shade. Dig a planting hole 1.5 times bigger than the root ball’s diameter.

Tip: Plant the Bodnant viburnum on the side of a path or in a place where you spend a lot of time, so that you can enjoy the delightful fragrance in full.

Plant Viburnum x bodnantense in Spring or Autumn. Allow enough space (1-2m) for the Bodnant viburnum to grow to its full width and also as it forms runners to a small extent. If it is necessary to change the location, transplant it in the first 5 years, immediately after flowering. This helps the Viburnum x bodnantense to survive the transplanting better.

First buds blooming in winter
In Winter, when the garden is rather bare, the Viburnum x bodnantense is a real eye-catcher [Photo: Cristi Croitoru/ Shutterstock.com]

Planting Viburnum x bodnantense in a pot

The Bodnant viburnum can also be kept in large pots. While it is not optimal, with the right care it will become a magnificent ornamental shrub. Put a layer of clay shards, expanded clay or pebbles in the bottom of the pot to ensure good drainage and prevent waterlogging. Fill the pot with substrate. To improve the permeability even more, 30% expanded clay can be mixed in. To reduce water evaporation, cover the root area with mulch.

Snow on Bodnant viburnum’s flowers
Cold temperatures do not stop Viburnum x bodnantense from flowering [Photo: hanmon/ Shutterstock.com]

Tip: If you want to save space and still enjoy the full splendour of the flowers, you can grow your Bodnant viburnum as a tall trunk. This way, the flowers on top of the slender trunk really come into their own in the garden or on the balcony and save space. Prune regularly to maintain the slim shape.

Plant care: pruning, fertilising and co.

The Bodnant viburnum is a very low-maintenance shrub. In the warm summer months, water it when it is dry. Fertilising Viburnum x bodnantense regularly is not necessary. If the site is rather poor in nutrients, it makes sense to apply compost or organic fertiliser in spring. If keeping the Bodnant viburnum in a pot, apply slow-release fertiliser once a year, as the nutrient supply in the pot is limited. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food, for example, is suitable for this purpose as it provides the viburnum with all the important nutrients over a period of several months. It is soil organism friendly and can be used both in the garden bed and pot.

Plantura All Purpose Plant Food
Plantura All Purpose Plant Food
With a long-lasting effect, for healthy soil, child & pet friendly

Prune the Bodnant viburnum directly after flower to keep its lush and bushy growth habit in check. Shoots that are too long can be shortened above a leaf node that points outwards. Since the Viburnum x bodnantense tolerates pruning well, it can also be thinned out. Do not prune the tips, rather prune the inner part of the crown to thin it out. Pruning ensures that young shoots keep growing back so that the shrub always looks lush.

Tip: Remove the oldest branches every 3 to 4 years to promote flowering and keep your Bodnant viburnum healthy for a long time to come.

Butterfly on the Bodnant viburnum
Insects also enjoy the early flowers [Photo: AirelleS/ Shutterstock.com]

Propagating Bodnant viburnum

Stem cuttings in summer are suitable for propagating the true variety of the Viburnum x bodnantense. Prune 10 to 15cm cuttings after flowering. Remove the lower leaves from the cutting and plant halfway into pots with suitable growing soil. If you slightly injure the cutting at the cut site beforehand and roll it in rooting hormone the chance of success is increased. Keep the pots moist and place them in a bright spot without direct sunlight. The ideal temperature is between 20 and 30°C. This way, roots will form quickly, and the new plants can be transferred to larger pots. Please note that the summer cuttings should be planted outside in the winter as they will freeze. Keep the Bodnant viburnum cuttings in a frost-free and light place during the winter, but make sure it is not too warm nor too moist. Plant them outside in the coming spring.

Viburnum’s flowers cluster in a ball
The flowers sometimes resemble snowballs [Photo: nnattalli/ Shutterstock.com]

Alternatively, you can also use suckers to propagate your Bodnant viburnum. Outdoors, the root runners usually form by themselves. If they shoot out of the ground in spring, they can be separated from the mother plant and replanted. Make sure that the new plants have a sufficient supply of water.

How to overwinter Viburnum x bodnantense

Bodnant viburnum is a hardy ornamental shrub. Outdoors, place some bark mulch at the base of the trunk to protect the roots from the frost and cold. Occasionally some flowers and buds freeze in icy temperatures, but this does not harm the flowering. If the Viburnum x bodnantense is in a pot, overwinter it in a cool, frost-free room or wrap it well in insulating material and cover it during winter.

First flowers blooming
The first flowers can appear as early as November [Photo: angel217/ Shutterstock.com]

Is the Bodnant viburnum poisonous?

The fruits, leaves and bark of the Bodnant viburnum are poisonous to humans. The toxicity is low, but do not let children and pets consume these parts of the Viburnum x bodnantense.

The Bodnant viburnum appears to be a small winter miracle for wild bees, bumblebees and other pollinators in the otherwise flower-poor winter landscape on sunny, mild winter days. Due to the elongated flower shape and the low pollen and nectar values, however, the Viburnum x bodnantense cannot be classified as particularly bee-friendly.

Pink Bodnant viburnum flowers blooming in winter
After flowering, the foliage and fruits of the Bodnant viburnum appear [Photo: Somogyi Laszlo/ Shutterstock.com]

Read our article to find out more about some winter-flowering plants to add a splash of colour in the otherwise chilly season.

Katja

I study landscape ecology and through my studies have discovered a love for plants. Plants are not only beautiful, but also have countless fascinating survival strategies. To bring a bit of nature into my home as well, I nurture my houseplants and herbs on every possible windowsill.
Favourite fruit: rhubarb and all kinds of berries
Favourite vegetables: onions and garlic