Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’:

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is a superbly scented shrub that produces its fragrant clusters of flowers on a bare and leafless plant.

A leafless shrub covered in flowers in winter is definitely a thing of curiosity and Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is worth a close inspection, with a sweet and delicious scent. The flowers of this shrub are gathered together in clusters hanging from the stems like perfume-filled pompons.

The flowers of Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ can appear any time from October to March depending on how cold the winter is. If the winter is mild they can flower early.

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’:

This shrub is straightforward to grow. It will grow in any soil, so long as it isn’t waterlogged. It can grow to 2.5m in height but if the plant grows too big you can simply cut it back to the ground in spring. It is a good idea to let the plant grow as big as possible so that you can cut some flower stems to fill the house with fragrance, without spoiling the overall look of the plant.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ gets its name from the Bodnant Garden in Wales where the plants Viburnum grandiflorum and Viburnum farreri were cross bred to produce ‘Dawn’ in the 1930s.

Missed a day of our Advent Calendar? To find out about more classic flowers that look at their best in December,

Viburnum Pruning – How And When To Prune Viburnum

On average, viburnum shrubs need relatively little pruning. However, it never hurts to practice occasional viburnum pruning each year to maintain shape and overall beauty.

When to Prune Viburnum

While light pruning can be performed anytime throughout the year, it’s best to leave any major shearing or severe pruning for late winter or early spring.

Of course, much of viburnum pruning depends on the variety grown too. In many cases, pruning just after flowering but before the setting of seedpods is sufficient. If frost is imminent in your area, you should put off pruning so as not to damage new shoots.

How Much Can a Viburnum Shrub be Trimmed Back?

Typically, viburnum shrubs should be trimmed back about a third of their size each year. Most pruning is done for shaping purposes only. However, old or overgrown shrubs may require some rejuvenation. Thinning out of unsightly branches can help open these shrubs up as well.

How to Prune Viburnum

Pruning viburnums is not always necessary but when it is, you want to do it properly. Young shrubs can be pinched to help maintain shape, choosing the most attractive, upright stem and pinching side shoots as needed for appearance. Then you can begin maintaining your shrub annually by cutting it back just above the nodes so the plant can continue to put out new shoots. Oftentimes, taking up to a third of the shrub can achieve natural-looking results without harming the viburnum.

For overgrown shrubs, reshaping may take several years of pruning to correct. Cut these plants close to the ground, leaving sturdier stems in place and removing any thin ones.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘DAWN’

Bodnant viburnum is one of the few winter flowering plants. Its flowers may appear as early as in December (in mild winters). It is a garden hybrid between v.farreri and v.grandiflorum made by Charles Lamont from Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. For some reason he did not wait until the plants showed their assets and chucked them. An unknown grower from Bodnant Gardens in Wales took them over and observed their growth. Four named varieties rose from this crossing (Aberconway, Charles Lamont, Dawn, and Deben), out of which Dawn was possibly the most successful commercially, and one was named in honour of the breeder.
Dawn is a Bodnant viburnum variety with deep pink flowers when young, maturing to light pink, borne in terminal and axillary clusters on bare wood. Their most attractive feature is heavy, but nice, sweet perfume which is strongest on warm and sunny days. It brings the feeling of forthcoming spring.
Viburnum is a deciduous shrub with open habit. The leaves are slightly furrowed and have serrated margins. They emerge bronze-coloured, maturing to deep green, and turning burgundy red in autumn. The shrub grows fast.
Deciduous viburnums like sunny or partially shaded location, medium fertile, moist but well-drained soil, no special pH required. Pruning not necessary. If for any reason you want to prune it, do so in spring after flowering. Fully hardy to -29°C (USDA zone 5).
Last update 29-12-2008; 25-03-2019

Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Can this be grown in a pot?



Yes – provided the pot is large and you keep the plant well fed and watered.



When is the best time to transplant from a large pot to the ground. It’s been in the pot for 3 years and I think it needs more space



It is possible to do this at any time of the year (provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged), but the best times would be either autumn or spring.



I have just received a specimen shrub from you of the viburnum bodnantense Dawn. However I received no planting instructions and the leaves are slightly curled and browning on the underside and blotched. I am not sure how to plant it or if the leaves are evidence of disease. Can you help please?


2017-11-01 2017-11-02


We have recently moved into this property and the Viburnum ‘Dawn’ has grown into a small tree and the top half is engulfed by ivy, which we are slowly stripping away.. What is the best way to proceed to rescue this shrub? How hard can I prune it and when?

Persevering Amateur


Hello there These plants will tolerate quite hard pruning but I would do this after flowering in late spring. You can either cut out up to one in five branches to the base by removing the oldest and weakest first, leaving the remaining branches unpruned so as not to affect flowering the following year. Alternatively if you can cut all the branches to the base and it usually reshoots.

2017-01-23 My Viburnam bodnantense Dawn planted earlier this year thrived well until a few days ago. Over a few days the leaves turned brown. What is the problem? Will it survive? Hel please.



Hello, The forst thing that comes to mind is drought, so do make sure the plant is kept really well watered until it has become established. Do also keep in mind however that this shrub is deciduous, so it will lose its leaves in autumn – although this is usually a more gradual process.



My Viburnham bodnantense Dawn that I bought form Crocus in the spring has thrived well until now. All the leaves have curled and the plant looks as if it is dying. It is in full sun in the afternoons is the current weather too hot for it? I can find no evidence of aphid infestation.



Hello, The leaves of these shrubs can look a bit pendent at times and this is often a sign of stress. This could be caused by a number of cultutal things, but the most common are either too much or too little water.



My Viburnham Bodense Dawn, keeps having curled up leaves when they re-grow, has it got a disease of some kind??



Hello, This leaf curling may be caused by viburnum aphid. These tend to hit the young foliage in spring, but they usually become less troublesome as the summer progresses – however if you look carefully amongst the young leaves you may spot them. The only effective treatment is a systemic insecticide, which should be applied from early spring.



We have bark chippings as mulch over most of our borders while the new shrubs & plants are growing to help suppress the weeds. Do we still need to add garden compost or well rotted manure? If so, should we push aside the bark, apply the compost & replace the bark? Or would an application of liquid feed be easier? Please can someone advise us? Thanks



Hello there The bark chippings will breakdown but it will be a slow process. If you want to improve your soil I would remove the bark chippings, then add a good composted compost, and then reapply your bark chipping mulch. Hope this helps.

2015-03-04 Hi I purchased this plant a couple of years ago but it does not seem to be thriving it has very few leaves and has never flowered. It is alive as it seems to be growing taller it is probably double the height it was when it was planted if not more. I am therefore assuming it would prefer a sunnier spot than it is currently in. Is that a logical assumption could anything else be causing this problem? If not when would be the best time to relocate this plant to a sunnier spot?



Hello there It could well be that it is not getting enough light and it is reaching up towards the sun and light, but there could be other reasons that are affecting it’s growth, such as lack of nurtrients, or a watering issue or it is crowded in a border. These plants like full sun or partial shade normally, but if you thinbk it is due to lack of light then you can move it while it is dormant between October to March. Hope this helps.

2015-01-05 Hello, When will be the best time of the year to plant this tree, Viburnumxbodnantense’Dawn’ ? It will be planted facing south-west, full sun in the afternoon. Thanks!

Learning trees


Hello there As a general rule plants that are grown in containers can be planted at any time of year as long as the soil isn’t frozen solid. The best times are in the autumn when the soil is still warm enough to encourage root growth but the plant isn’t in active growth, or the spring before the temperatures start to rise, so you can plant now in September, but I would keep it well watered while we are having this dry spell. Hope this helps


Viburnum tinus is perhaps best planted on its own, or as a background to other shrubs. You could grow a late, small-flowered crimson clematis through it that can be cut down after flowering. ‘Kermesina’ is the one to seek. The x burkwoodii forms are easier to integrate in mixed borders. If you want to mask the foxy smell of crown imperial fritillaries, try planting them nearby.

Growing tips

  • Surpisingly, for it does not seem tender except in very cold winters, laurustinus comes from the Mediterranean, where it grows on dry rocky limestone hills. It does not mind shade, but the flowers will be better in the sun
  • You can clip V.tinus, but use secateurs, not shears. ‘Park Farm Hybrid’ and ‘Anne Russell’ can be grown as standard trees and they respond well to clipping.
  • All the viburnums mentioned are obliging shrubs on any soil or position, but they do not like to be waterlogged
  • Like everything, they will do better if you treat them kindly. Give them a good start with a little leaf mould and enough room to develop.
  • If you wanted formal specimens, the ones to clip are V.tinus or x burkwoodii, but on the whole, viburnums need no restraining.

Where to buy

Nationwide garden centres such as Wyevale will stock most of the viburnums mentioned but for the rarer sorts – ‘Winton’ and ‘Anne Russell’, for instance – try Ashwood Nurseries. Telegraph Garden shop will also deliver to your door.

Grow Viburnum For Winter Scent And Colour

Viburnums are an essential plant for the winter garden

Viburnums are an essential shrub for the winter garden, giving much needed scent and flower when there is little else. They are evergreen or deciduous shrubs, with approximately 150 – 175 species, and are native to mountainous regions in South America, the Atlas Mountains and the temperate northern hemisphere. The deciduous species tend to come from cool temperate regions and the evergreens from warmer areas. They are fully hardy and easy to care for, being virtually maintenance free, if they are planted in the correct position. Their fragrant flowers in cream, pink or white appear in clusters over winter and spring. Many of them have poisonous berries, which can be red, blue or black, so bear this in mind if you have small children. They are a good plant to incorporate in a mixed or a wildlife hedge as the birds love the berries.

They need to be pollinated in order to produce berries, so you need 2 plants of the same species. This should not be necessary in an urban garden as it is almost certain that there will be one in someone else’s garden nearby. They look fantastic in a woodland garden planted with hellebores, cyclamen and pink and dark purple tulips.

Viburnum plicatum f. plicatum ‘Grandiflora’ (Japanese Snowball)


They like a cool root run so avoid a hot dry position. They like moist, well-drained fertile soil and don’t mind if it is in full sun or partial shade. The fragrance is stronger when the temperature is warmer so, if possible, plant where it will receive the afternoon sun when it is in flower. They prefer a neutral pH of 5.6 – 6.6, but will tolerate a more limey soil rather than more acidic. They can be grown in containers but it must be fairly large and they are more labour intensive. They soon exhaust their food supply so must be fed and re-potted regularly. They also tend to have a shorter life-span and suffer more stress which can make them vulnerable to pests and diseases than if they are planted in the ground.


When planting put a good couple of spades full of peat-free multi-purpose or home-made compost in the planting hole. They dislike heavy clay soil so if possible avoid planting them in this type of soil; if it is unavoidable then improve the soil by adding plenty of horticultural grit and peat-free compost which has a large structure. Adding a little mini-chip bark will also open up the soil structure and improve drainage. Plant to the same depth as the plant is in the pot. Water after planting, then mulch (5cm, 2” thick) with chipped bark, to retain moisture and suppress the weeds.


Water well for the first year after planting. In spring give them a feed of slow-release balanced fertiliser. Renew the mulch every 3 years.


They do not need pruning; so just take out any diseased branches or open up the centre to improve airflow in early summer.

Viburnum tinus ‘Lisa Rose’

Pests and diseases

Viburnums are generally pest and disease free, trouble usually occurs when the plants are under stress; lack of water, too much water in poorly drained soil or lack of nutrients.

Fungal leaf spot appears as black spots on the leaves. Try and avoid overhead irrigation and improve the air-flow around the plant by pruning out some of the centre of the plant if it becomes congested. Space plants out, don’t plant them too close together and prune out any over-hanging tree branches. Raking up and destroying any infected leaves (do not compost) will minimise chances of it recurring the following year. Spray every 10 – 14 days to keep the fungus in check.

Algal leaf spot occurs in cool damp conditions and appears as pale green spots on the leaves, becoming browner with age. Treat as for fungal leaf spot.

Powdery mildew occurs when conditions are dry, warm and humid and are worse on plants in the shade. It appears as white – light grey patches on the upper side of the leaves. Improve air circulation and spray with a fungicide, avoiding any with a sulphur component as it is detrimental to viburnums. Prune out any heavy infections and rake up and destroy the infected material.

Downy mildew usually occurs in cool warm weather with wet periods. It appears as light green patches on the upper leaf and white – light grey on the lower leaf. Treat as for powdery mildew, making sure you also spray the underside of the leaves.

Die-back and canker are the result of a fungal infection resulting from pruning wounds and injuries to the bark, and is exacerbated by drought stress. The fungus prevents water from travelling up the stem and results in the top of the shrub wilting then turning brown. There is no chemical treatment. Prune the infected branch back to healthy growth. Dispose of the material (do not compost). Make sure you disinfect your pruners.

Aphids are occasionally attracted to the soft new growth resulting in twisted and distorted leaves. Spray with a mixture of washing-up liquid and water, a strong jet of water to dislodge them or a systemic insecticide every 5 – 7 days. If the infestation is light just rub them off between finger and thumb.

Scale insects are flat, brown disc shaped insects. The first sign of an infestation is often the presence of black, sooty fungus which lives on the honey dew secreted by the scale insect. If the sooty fungus is widespread it may be necessary to treat that first, as any spray for the scale insect may not get through to the leaf. Either spray with a fungicide or wash off with a mixture of washing-up liquid and water. Treating the insects may involve pruning and destroying any heavily infected branches, spraying with a systemic insecticide or if the infestation is only light rub off the insects by hand.

Vine weevil beetles produce half-moon shaped cut-outs around the edges of the leaves and lay their eggs at the base of the stem. These eggs become larvae which then migrate into the soil and feed off the plant roots. The larvae are creamy white curled into a C – shape with a brown head. Eventually they will eat sufficient roots to kill the plant. Spray the foliage with a systemic insecticide at 2 – 3 week intervals to kill the adult beetles; also spray around the base of the plant as this is where the adult rests. Drench the soil around the base of the plant to control the larvae.

Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose)

Recommended varieties

Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose) – this is the wild, deciduous variety and can grow to 5m (16.5’). It has small white flowers in spring and clusters of red berries in the autumn. The leaves also turn red/pink in the autumn. It is a good tree for a mixed native hedge, giving good autumn colour and an important food source for the birds.

V. opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ – yellow berried Guelder Rose with creamy white flowers. Leaves turn yellow or pink in autumn.

V. opulus ‘Roseum’ – large, deciduous shrub with creamy white flowers in a snowball shape. In autumn the leaves are a reddish colour but as the shrub is sterile it does not produce any berries.

V. davidii – small, spreading evergreen with white flowers and blue/black berries with a metallic sheen.

V. plicatum f. tormentosum ‘Pink Beauty’ – medium, deciduous shrub with flat creamy white flowers which turn pink as they age. In autumn the foliage turns purplish and it produces red/black berries.

V. plicatum f. tormentosum ‘Mariesii’ (Wedding Cake Tree) – small, deciduous tree with tiered branches. It has lacecap heads of white flowers in spring. It sometimes produces red berries which then turn black.

V. plicatum f. plicatum ‘Grandiflorum’ (Japanese Snowball) – large, deciduous shrub (small tree, 2.5 – 4m; 8’ – 13’) producing large balls of white flowers which turn pink with age. They are sterile so don’t produce any berries. The leaves turn purplish red in autumn.

V. x burkwoodii – loose, evergreen shrub growing to 2.5m (8’) with glossy dark green leaves. In mid to late spring it produces very fragrant white or pale pink flowers.

V. tinus ‘Lisa Rose’ – medium (2 – 4m, 7′ – 13′), evergreen with glossy leaves, pale pink flowers from November to May.

V. tinus ‘Gwenllian’ – medium, evergreen shrub with white flowers in winter emerging from red buds, producing metallic blue berries in autumn.

V. tinus ‘Eve Price’ – medium, evergreen shrub producing starry white flowers in winter from deep pink buds. Berries in autumn are deep metallic blue.

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

V. x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ – large, deciduous, strong growing, upright shrub producing fragrant white and light pink flowers emerging from red buds, from autumn through to spring.

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