Dirr has written an entire volume on viburnums as a whole. He gives us many double file viburnums from which to choose. Here are a few of them.

Doublefile viburnums are low-maintainence and wildlife-friendly

Doublefile viburnums are a fairly large group of shrubs, ranging in size, typically, from a height of 10 to 12 feet and a width of 12 to 15 feet. There are some new cultivars that are smaller - please read on. The common name refers to the fact that the flowers, which form two rows, extend through the length of the branch, and are in opposite rows. They are hardy in zones 5 to 8. The bloom period, in zone 5a is April to May. Blooms are white on some plants, and pink on others. They flower well in full sun to part shade. It appears to be little known that many viburnums bloom in part shade. I have many of them, and I encourage you to investigate them for possible acquisition. I have several that only receive about four hours of sun a day and they do beautifully. Maintenance is quite low. They make an excellent hedge, which is my use for them. They have beautiful fall color, showy fruit, and birds and butterflies love them. I keep my bird feeders near a group doublefiles, and the birds make a beeline for them between meals.

Doublefile viburnums do well in the shade

One of the nicest things about them is that they are very shade tolerant. Gary Ladman of Classic Viburnums has noted this. I grew them in full sun in highly alkaline soil and now in part shade in fairly neutral soil, and they excel in less light. And They are great understory plants. I am growing them as such.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Mariesei'

viburnum Mariesii
'Mariesei’ is a very popular and widely available doublefile viburnum noted for its distinctively layered horizontal branching. Deciduous, it matures to 10-12’ tall and spreads to 15’ wide. The flowers have no fragrance, but they form beautiful lace cap cluster blooms. And the bloom is intense, with 4 to 6-inch clusters during the early spring, lasting about two months. In summer, red berries form that are relished by birds. And then, in fall, the leaves, which are as long as 5 inches, turn a beautiful reddish shade.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Shasta'

viburnum tometosum

This is another doublefile which like the above is also popular and widely available. It typically matures to 6-8’ (sometimes to 10’) tall and spreads to 9-12’ wide. This is a large shrub that produces abundant flowers in spring on horizontal branches followed by abundant black fruits. Large flower clusters (each to 6” wide) feature showy outer snow-white sterile flowers (each to 2” wide). It was Introduced in 1979 by the U.S. National Arboretum.

Do note that there are two different forms of this shrub are available. There is the Japanese snowball shrub, which is a plicatum rather than tomentosum. Plicatum has snowball shaped flowers that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter along the branches. This plant does not produce fruit in the fall. If you order this plant by mail, make certain that you order the one that you prefer. And why not both? Plicatum blooms about two weeks after the tomentosum.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Pink Beauty'

viburnum Pink Beauty

There is a caveat here. I have four of these wonderful plants - but they are not pink. And their not blooming in pink is not uncommon. Gary Ladman of Classic Viburnums (I did not order them from him, so he is not responsible for the color) told me that he had never seen a pink one - they usually bloom in white. That was no problem for me because the site from which I ordered them only had pink, and at the time I wanted white. But my point is that if you have your heart set on a pink plant, this is probably not the way to go.

It is, however, gorgeous. 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide. I planted four of them to make a living fence and screen. They are quite upright. They completely obscure my neighbor's fence and house, while giving us both a beautiful view. It has been noted that it does not produce a large crop of fruit because of the lack of a suitable pollinator, but mine fruit up nicely.

If the pink color does appear it is stated in the literature that it darkens, and that the pink coloration varies intensity from year to year. The autumn color is gorgeous.

Fall color

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Summer Snowflake'

viburnum summer snowflake

‘Summer Snowflake’ is an unusual cultivar in that it blooms sporadically through the season rather than just in spring. In addition, flowers, (which are of a lace cap type) fruit and autumn color can be found on the shrub simultaneously. Found in the wild in Japan in the early years of the 1960's by R.F. Michaud of Alpenglow Gardens and introduced by the Canadian Ornamental Plant Foundation, it is a very upright cultivar that matures to up to 12 feet but is only half as wide. The flowers are not fragrant.

The parts of the plant are smaller than a typical tomentosum.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Lanarth'

viburnum Lanarth

This is a big boy. It is the largest doublefile viburnum. I was having a privacy issue, and I owned five of these in Lake County, IL. I had a neighbor who would spend hours in his driveway staring through my kitchen windows. These can make your neighbors disappear. They are ten feet tall and ten feet wide.

I grew this plant in full sun, but it is shade tolerant. Fruit and fall color are red, and the fruit is abundant. Again, it's a big boy, growing ten feet by ten feet. I specifically chose it to obtain the largest doublefile possible. Gary Ladman of Classic Viburnums refers to it as a very beautiful selection, and he grows many doublefiles. I agree.

Because so many of these plants are quite large, I thought that I would include a couple of more diminutive doublefiles.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Igloo'

viburnum igloo

Here is one that is quite new to me. Igloo, which is 6 to 8 feet tall with a spread of ten feet which, while hardly tiny, is certainly less tall. Gary and Sue Ladman of Classic Viburnums note that this a dome shaped plant on which the foliage grows right to the ground. I's four inch flowers give it the appearance of an igloo, hence the name. Distinctly shade tolerant, the fruit is copious and attractive and is described as "broad spreading, dense and compact".

I'm intrigued.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Shoshoni'

viburnum molly schroeder

This plant is actually a seedling of Shasta above, but growing to only about half its size to 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It was the result of a great number of seed crossings at the National Arboretum in Washington, which in conjunction with Dr. Don Egolf introduced it in1987. It is said to produce strong flowering and long-lasting fruit, which I as an avid birder value. The fruit turns from red to black. The flowers come in groups of 5 to 7 with numerous fertile flowers in the center. The flowers are about an inch across, and the foliage is a purple red color in autumn.

There's a great selection of doublefile viburnum choices

With so many choices and sizes, there is a doublefile for every garden. If you have difficulty finding them in garden centers, there are many excellent vendors on the Garden Watchdog section of Daves Garden. (I have happily used three so far, and have purchased plants as large as 7 gallons) so don't let local limitations keep these beauties from your garden.