Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Viburnum obovatum 'Reifler's Dwarf'

There a many reasons why we need to start looking at native plants as replacements for many of our standard landscape plants. From a pest pressure standpoint, natives are often more tolerant of indigenous insects and fungi because they have co-evolved with these pests. It stands to reason that a pest would not kill it's host because they want an ongoing source of food.

Birds and other animals have also co-evolved with these plants are are dependent upon these native species. The diversity of songbirds in natural areas far exceeds the populations in cultivated gardens dominated by exotic plants.

One of my new favorite native shrubs is Small-leaf Viburnum, Viburnum obovatum. Endemic to the coastal plain from South Carolina down to Florida and across to Alabama, this evergreen shrub is perfectly acclimated to our area.

The cultivar 'Reifler's Dwarf' is a small, rounded selection that would be a great substitute for Abelia, Indian Hawthorn or Japanese Hollies in the landscape. It grows to an ultimate height of 4-5' high and wide, but responds well to shearing.

Look at this greenhouse of perfect 'Reifler's Dwarf' Viburnums at Dudley Nursery:The flower buds are a deep rose pink and are formed in the late summer and fall. Around February, the buds open to reveal small white flowers that cover the entire plant. After flowering, purple-black fruit (that the birds happen to love) are formed.

It is like a Yaupon Holly with bigger flowers and a softer texture.

Should I list the attributes of this plant?
  • Small, rounded growth habit
  • Evergreen leaves
  • Multi-season interest (buds, flowers and fruit)
  • Native plant
  • Easily sheared
  • Bird attractant
  • New(ish) cultivar for an updated plant palette (are you as tired of Japanese Hollies and Indian Hawthorns as I am?)


  1. I've never heard of it...it looks like a great plant!

  2. I didn't know it until a few months ago- it's amazing how many great plants are not being used in landscapes they way they should! I hope this becomes more well known. I think that Dr. Dirr from UGA developed this plant.

  3. I love it! Sounds like it should do well for me. I have several viburnums but not this one. It's on my list!

  4. Yes, from the tag I got, it says the small pink flowers are fragrant! Mine hasn't bloomed yet.

  5. Actually natives are not more tolerant to insects because of coevolution. It is the other way around. Native insects and fungi do not attack exotics because they did not coevolve together, so much so that many exotic plants are immune to native herbivores and become successful invaders



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