Gardening Magazine

Viburnum Berries

By John Markowski @jmarkowski0
I love me some Viburnums. 
That is what consumed me on my ride into work this morning. And here's why:  
They give you:
  • Stupendous flowers 
  • Phenomenal scents 
  • Gloriously lustrous foliage
  • Pleasant fall color
  • Mutha f'n eye popping berries (if you are so lucky)
For today, I would like to wax poetic on bullet #5 above. Berries. Can I get a "hell yeah"?
If you gave me the choice of berries or flowers on a particular plant, berries win about 78.9% of the time. Of course, getting said berries to even exist isn't as easy as it seems. I am by no means smart enough to fully understand the science behind how they are produced (the male/female thing is a bit familiar though). 
To date, I've only once attempted to grow two different cultivars of a plant in order to produce berries and that failed miserably when both of the hollies I planted died in year one. 
With my Viburnums, I decided they kicked enough buttocks without berries so I didn't even bother worrying about how to produce them. In the ground they went and that was it. 
Those beautifully colored orbs were nowhere to be found the first few years so I never gave them a second thought ... until last year ... when two of the cultivars produced berries like mad. Hot damn!!                  
From what I could gather from my research, Viburnums typically need overlapping bloom periods between two different cultivars of the same species and they need to be in relative proximity to each other in order to produce berries. 
*Disclaimer - I have no idea if that previous sentence made any sense. Please don't judge. Also, I like run-on sentences. Deal with it.
And we're back. 
Coming into this year, I didn't want to screw up my fruit production on the Viburnums so I changed nothing. That strategy paid off, as I'll show you below.
Here is Viburnum plicatum 'Shoshoni' at the end of April:    Viburnum berries
And then in the middle of June: Viburnum berries
Viburnum berries
I can confirm there were no other Viburnums blooming at this time, and as far as I know, not another plicatum in the same zip code. So, not sure how this happened. But I will take it.  
Next, is Viburnum bracteatum 'Emerald Lustre' in early June:
Viburnum berries
And then in the middle of August:
Viburnum berries
Viburnum berries
Viburnum berries
Again, there doesn't appear to be any sort of cross pollination going on here so not sure what suddenly  changed after years of no berries. I did read one comment somewhere that this cultivar may actually self pollinate (is that even possible, self-pollination?). Hmmmmm ... little help here please?  
Finally, we have Viburnum carlesii 'Aurora' which typically blooms for me in the middle of April:
Viburnum berries
To date, this shrub has not produced a single berry. Maybe the waiting game will work for this one too.
So faithful readers, what have you experienced with Viburnum berries? Any words of wisdom? Just keep it simple so this dolt can understand it.
Thank you in advance.

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