HOBBLEBUSH …a superb viburnum available from Eastern Plant
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In my opinion this is the best hardy viburnum for New England …and other areas. When I moved to Maine long ago I found this native while hiking. Not knowing what it was I got out the plant id book …Hobblebush: why hadn’t I ever seen this. Few plants have such ornamental appeal over all seasons.
NOTE: The Latin name for it, Viburnum alnifolium has been recently changed to Viburnum lantanoides.
While its hard to propagate conventionally and that may be why is so rare in the trade, it is a very hardy, care free plant in areas where it can be grown. The basic requirements are: give it some filtered light shade, a damp soil and be patient. As it has a light root system it should not be moved once planted. While fairly widespread in its native range from Canada to high elevation areas of the Smokies, its never really common. AND dare I say, til we started selling it twenty years ago, never seen in gardens!
Where I have seen it in the wild, it almost always found near a stream or ravine and with hemlocks and or beech not far away. It is one of the most consistent “indicators” I have ever seen. Don’t fear, it does not need those conditions or plant friends to be happyl
Hobblebush, the word …comes from the fact that in nature, a low branch often “hobbles” along the ground, takes root and sends up a new plant. Often colonies seen in the woods that might be a hundred feet across, are actually the same plant.
Don’t let that image fool you though as this is a very attractive plant when grown correctly. Its overall form is a layered branch look kinda like a dogwood. When young it is very erratic with branches going everywhere but not many of them! Be patient, as it will mature into a fine shrub with tremendous branch appeal. It is very long lived; I have some 30 years old that still are going strong.
The beautiful dormant buds: nothing else has the distinctive copper colored buds this has …a winter feature that adds color to the landscape and easy way to “ID” the plant. In the picture to right below you can see a flower bud also enclosed in a coppery coating.
The flowers: Like many viburnums the display is made of both fertile and sterile flowers. It is one of the first plants to bloom and leaf out, giving a cheery start to spring. More sun will increase the number of flowers, but in most climates you want to give it partial shade.
The emerging leaves are fascinating and full of deep veining. The leaves become rounded and can be as large as 8 inches across.
The fall color: A picture or several, speak a thousand words …gorgeous
Hobblebush berries in late summer. The berries start out as green then go to white, transform to pink then red as summer wanes. One of the many features of this plant.
SIZES AVAILABLE 4-6 inch $36 7-12 inch $55 15-17 inch $75 Hobblebush does not branch much when young, that is normal. They are VERY hard to propagate hence the price, but are very hardy.
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