Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum Odoratissimum Var. Awabuki)

Plant: Table of Contents

Plant Scientist’s Guide to Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki)

What is Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki)?

Sweet Viburnum, scientifically known as Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki, is a popular evergreen shrub that belongs to the Adoxaceae family. This versatile plant species is native to Eastern Asia, specifically Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. It is appreciated for its attractive foliage, fragrant flowers, and various landscaping uses, making it a sought-after choice for gardeners and landscape designers worldwide.

Key Takeaways – Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki)

Before delving into the details of cultivating and caring for sweet viburnum, let’s explore the key takeaways about this remarkable plant:

  • Scientific Name: Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki
  • Common Names: Sweet viburnum, Awabuki viburnum
  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub
  • Native Habitat: Eastern Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan)
  • Notable Features: Fragrant flowers, glossy foliage, versatile landscaping uses
  • Growth Rate: Fast-growing
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-10
  • Mature Height: 12-20 feet
  • Mature Spread: 8-15 feet
  • Ideal Uses: Hedges, screens, borders, and ornamental specimen planting

Now, let’s dive into the specifics of cultivating and nurturing this beautiful shrub to enhance your understanding and appreciation of sweet viburnum.


Cultivating sweet viburnum involves understanding its environmental requirements, growth habits, and ideal growing conditions. To ensure the plant thrives and exhibits its full ornamental potential, consider the following cultural aspects:


  • Watering Frequency: While sweet viburnum is relatively drought-tolerant once established, it benefits from regular watering, especially during hot and dry periods. Aim to provide approximately 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or supplemental irrigation.
  • Soil Moisture: Well-draining soil is crucial to prevent waterlogged conditions, which can lead to root rot. However, newly planted viburnums benefit from consistent moisture until they establish a robust root system.
  • Irrigation Methods: When watering sweet viburnum, direct the water at the base of the plant to ensure deep penetration and encourage strong, healthy roots.


  • Sun Exposure: Sweet viburnum thrives in full sunlight to partial shade. However, for optimal flower and fruit production, provide it with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Shade Tolerance: While the plant can tolerate some shade, excessive shade may lead to reduced flowering and a less dense growth habit.


  • Soil Type: Well-drained, loamy soil is ideal for sweet viburnum. It can adapt to a range of soil textures, including clay, as long as proper drainage is ensured.
  • pH Level: Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil with a pH range of 6.0-7.5 is favorable for sweet viburnum.
  • Soil Amendments: Incorporating organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil during planting can improve its structure and fertility.


Applying a balanced fertilizer can provide sweet viburnum with essential nutrients for healthy growth and vibrant foliage. As with any fertilization regimen, it’s crucial to consider the specific nutrient requirements and the timing of application to promote optimal results.

Fertilization Guidelines

  • Timing: Fertilize sweet viburnum in early spring before new growth emerges to support the plant’s seasonal nutrient needs.
  • Type of Fertilizer: Use a slow-release, balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or similar formulation to provide a mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Application Method: Apply the fertilizer evenly around the root zone of the shrub, avoiding direct contact with the stems and foliage.

Nutrient Considerations

  • Nitrogen: Essential for promoting lush, green foliage and overall plant vigor. However, excessive nitrogen application can lead to excessive vegetative growth at the expense of flower production.
  • Phosphorus: Supports root development, flowering, and fruit set. A phosphorus-rich fertilizer can enhance sweet viburnum’s reproductive capabilities and overall resilience.
  • Potassium: Contributes to disease resistance, stress tolerance, and balanced nutrient uptake. Including potassium in the fertilizer regimen can promote robust growth and environmental adaptability in sweet viburnum.


Proper pruning practices are instrumental in shaping sweet viburnum, managing its size, and rejuvenating older plants. Additionally, strategic pruning can enhance air circulation, promote flowering, and maintain a tidy appearance.

Pruning Guidelines

  • Timing: Perform major pruning activities during late winter or early spring, before the start of new growth. Light pruning for maintenance can be conducted as needed throughout the growing season.
  • Tools: Sharp, clean pruning shears and loppers are essential for precise cuts and overall plant health.
  • Techniques: Focus on removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches, as well as thinning out excessive growth to maintain an open, well-structured framework.
  • Shaping and Size Control: Sweet viburnum can be pruned to form hedges, screens, or ornamental shapes, allowing for creative and functional landscaping designs.


Expanding your sweet viburnum collection or sharing this delightful plant with fellow gardening enthusiasts often involves propagation. Understanding the various propagation methods and timing can increase your success in producing healthy, vibrant offspring of this beloved shrub.

Propagation Techniques

  • Softwood Cuttings: Gather 4-6 inch cuttings from the current season’s growth, typically in late spring to early summer. Root the cuttings in a well-draining medium, such as a mix of peat and perlite, under high humidity and consistent moisture.
  • Hardwood Cuttings: Harvest mature, dormant branches during late winter, and propagate them using the same rooting medium and environmental conditions as softwood cuttings.
  • Seed Propagation: While sweet viburnum produces fruit containing seeds, germinating the seeds can be challenging, and the resulting plants may exhibit genetic variation compared to the parent plant.

Propagation Considerations

  • Hormone Application: Using a rooting hormone, particularly for softwood and hardwood cuttings, can promote root development and increase the success rate of propagation.
  • Environmental Control: Providing stable temperatures, adequate moisture, and gentle humidity levels can create an optimal rooting environment for propagated sweet viburnum cuttings.

Container Popularity

Sweet viburnum’s adaptability and ornamental value make it a sought-after choice for container gardening. Whether displayed on patios, balconies, or integrated into landscape designs, growing sweet viburnum in containers offers numerous benefits and creative possibilities.

Container Gardening Advantages

  • Space Efficiency: By cultivating sweet viburnum in containers, gardeners can maximize limited space and bring greenery to urban settings or compact outdoor areas.
  • Mobility and Versatility: Containers provide the flexibility to move and rearrange sweet viburnum based on seasonal sunlight, temperature preferences, or aesthetic considerations.
  • Design Element: Utilize sweet viburnum as a focal point or an integral component of container garden arrangements, enhancing visual interest and contributing to a cohesive outdoor environment.

Container Selection

  • Size and Drainage: Choose spacious containers with adequate drainage holes to accommodate the plant’s root system and prevent waterlogging.
  • Material: Select durable, weather-resistant materials such as fiberglass, concrete, or high-quality plastic to ensure the longevity of the containers and safeguard the health of the sweet viburnum.

Container Care

  • Watering: Monitor soil moisture levels regularly, especially during warm weather, and adjust the watering frequency to maintain consistent but not waterlogged soil conditions.
  • Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer designed for container plants to supply essential nutrients to sweet viburnum throughout the growing season.

Common Diseases

While sweet viburnum is generally resilient, it may occasionally fall victim to certain diseases that can impact its aesthetic appeal and overall health. Being aware of common diseases and their symptoms empowers growers to take preventive measures and respond promptly to protect their plants.

Disease Diagnosis

Leaf Spot

  • Symptoms: Circular, dark spots on the leaves, which may develop yellow halos. Severe cases can lead to premature leaf drop and hinder the plant’s photosynthetic capabilities.
  • Causes: Fungal pathogens such as Cercospora, Phoma, or other related species may contribute to leaf spot development, particularly under moist conditions.

Powdery Mildew

  • Symptoms: Powdery, white patches on the upper surfaces of the leaves, often accompanied by leaf distortion and reduced vigor.
  • Causes: Prolonged periods of high humidity and poor air circulation create favorable conditions for powdery mildew fungi, such as Erysiphe species, to thrive.

Root Rot

  • Symptoms: Wilted, discolored foliage, stunted growth, and an overall decline in the plant’s vitality. Below-ground root tissues may exhibit dark, mushy decay.
  • Causes: Excessive soil moisture, poorly drained soil, or fungal pathogens like Phytophthora or Pythium can lead to root rot and compromise the plant’s root system.

Disease Management

  • Cultural Practices: Implement proper watering techniques, adequate spacing between plants, and regular sanitation to minimize disease pressure and create an inhospitable environment for pathogens.
  • Fungicidal Treatments: If disease symptoms escalate, consider applying appropriate fungicides following label instructions to suppress fungal development and protect the plant.

Common Pests

Despite its robust nature, sweet viburnum may encounter pest infestations that can diminish its ornamental appeal and disrupt its growth. Identifying common pests and implementing integrated pest management strategies is crucial for preserving the health and vitality of the plant.

Pest Identification


  • Appearance: Small, soft-bodied insects that may be green, black, red, or other colors, depending on the species.
  • Damage: Aphids feed on the plant’s sap, causing distorted growth, yellowing leaves, honeydew secretion, and the potential for secondary fungal infections.

Scale Insects

  • Appearance: Flat or dome-shaped, often immobile insects that adhere to the stems or leaves, appearing as small bumps or discolorations.
  • Damage: Scales siphon plant fluids, leading to weakened growth, chlorosis, and the eventual decline of infested foliage.


  • Appearance: Tiny, moth-like insects with powdery white wings, typically found on the undersides of leaves in clusters.
  • Damage: Whiteflies excrete honeydew and can transmit viruses, leading to stunted growth, premature leaf drop, and diminished plant vigor.

Pest Management

  • Natural Predators: Encourage the presence of beneficial insects and birds that prey on aphids, scales, and whiteflies, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and certain bird species.
  • Horticultural Oils: Apply lightweight horticultural oils to suffocate and disrupt pest populations while minimizing harm to beneficial organisms.
  • Insecticidal Soaps: Target soft-bodied pests like aphids and whiteflies with insecticidal soaps, which provide effective control while posing minimal risk to the environment and non-target organisms.

Botanist’s Tips

Fun Facts

Links to External Resources

To further enrich your knowledge of sweet viburnum and explore additional insights, here are valuable external resources containing comprehensive information, expert recommendations, and stunning visual references:

Reliable Sources

  1. [The American Horticultural Society](https://ahsgardening.org/)
  2. The American Horticultural Society offers a wealth of resources on plant care, gardening practices, and landscape design, including insightful articles and expert advice for cultivating sweet viburnum.

  3. [University of Florida IFAS Extension](https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/)

  4. The University of Florida’s IFAS Extension provides research-based horticultural information, including publications, fact sheets, and educational materials relevant to sweet viburnum cultivation and management.

  5. [Royal Horticultural Society](https://www.rhs.org.uk/)

  6. The Royal Horticultural Society’s website features an extensive plant database, gardening guides, and inspirational content, offering a valuable source of knowledge for growing and appreciating sweet viburnum.

By leveraging these reputable resources, you can access expert insights, practical guidance, and a diverse range of perspectives to enhance your journey in cultivating and enjoying the beauty of sweet viburnum. Whether you’re a seasoned horticulturist or an enthusiastic beginner, these sources can expand your understanding and passion for this remarkable plant.

In conclusion, sweet viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki) stands as a captivating addition to any landscape, offering fragrance, visual appeal, and ecological value. By embracing its cultural preferences, mastering disease and pest management, and exploring innovative uses such as container gardening, you can elevate your experience with this versatile and elegant shrub. As you embark on your journey with sweet viburnum, let your curiosity and passion for plants guide you, and may your gardens and outdoor spaces flourish with the enduring charm of this exceptional species.

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Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.