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Does arrowwood viburnum spread?

Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) is a popular shrub known for its ability to thrive in a range of growing conditions, showy spring blooms, and brightly colored fall foliage. But one question that often comes up with this plant is whether or not it spreads aggressively. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at arrowwood viburnum’s potential to spread and examine some tips for controlling it.

Arrowwood Viburnum Growth Habits

Arrowwood viburnum is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that typically grows 6-15 feet tall with a similar spread, though exact size can vary depending on variety. It features oval, toothed, dark green leaves that turn reddish-purple in fall. The shrub produces attractive white lacecap flowers in spring, followed by clusters of blue-black berries in late summer/fall that attract birds.

This viburnum grows at a moderate pace, averaging about 1-2 feet of new growth per year once established. It does sucker and often grows into large colonies in ideal growing conditions. Suckering is a form of asexual reproduction where new stems sprout up from the shrub’s root system. These suckers can pop up a few feet away from the original plant, expanding its footprint and resulting in a dense thicket over time.

Does Arrowwood Viburnum Spread Aggressively?

The question of whether arrowwood viburnum spreads aggressively is not completely straightforward to answer. On one hand, its ability to sucker and form colonies shows its potential to spread. But on the other hand, many describe its spreading tendencies as relatively moderate and manageable in comparison to other fast-spreading shrubs.

Here are some key factors that influence how quickly arrowwood viburnum will spread:

  • Growing Conditions – Arrowwood viburnum spreads most vigorously in ideal growing conditions. This includes fertile, moist, well-draining soil and a partly shady location. Growth will be slower in dense shade, drought, or poor soil.
  • Pruning – Regular pruning of suckers will help restrict spread.
  • Variety – Some arrowwood viburnum varieties, like ‘Blue Muffin’ and ‘Chicago Lustre’, are touted as slower growing and less suckering than others.
  • Root Competition – Nearby trees and shrubs compete for resources underground, which can slow the growth and spread of arrowwood viburnum.

So in good conditions with minimal maintenance, arrowwood viburnum can absolutely spread quickly and require frequent pruning to keep it contained. But many agree that it doesn’t sucker as excessively as plants like sumac and lilac, which are notorious for aggressive spread. With proper care and smart siting, arrowwood viburnum’s spreading tendencies can be managed.

Tips for Controlling Arrowwood Viburnum Spread

If you want to minimize the spread of arrowwood viburnum or keep it contained to a certain area, here are some useful tips:

  • Water Wisely – Avoid overwatering, which can promote fast sucker growth. Water during droughts once established.
  • Fertilize Lightly – Excess fertilizer also spurs vigorous growth. Fertilize minimally or not at all.
  • Prune Yearly – Prune out all suckers each year to prevent colony formation.
  • Site Carefully – Plant away from areas where spread is undesirable. Use as a buffer between properties.
  • Edge Beds – Install a physical barrier like a metal or plastic edge to contain roots and prevent sucker formation.
  • Go Dwarf – Opt for more compact arrowwood cultivars like ‘Blue Muffin’ or ‘Compactum’.

With regular pruning, proper siting, and careful watering/fertilizing, arrowwood viburnum’s spreading tendencies can be controlled. But also embrace and utilize its colonizing nature to create beautiful mass plantings or hedges.

Using Arrowwood Viburnum in the Landscape

Here are some great ways to use arrowwood viburnum in your yard:

  • Hedges/Screens – Its dense growth makes a great privacy hedge or screen when allowed to sucker freely.
  • Mass Plantings – Plant in groups to create a viburnum thicket for seasonal interest and bird habitat.
  • Specimen Shrub – Prune regularly to highlight its form as a standalone specimen shrub.
  • Woodland Gardens – It thrives in shady spots and naturalizes well in woodland gardens.
  • Wildlife Gardens – Berries attract songbirds. Flowers provide pollen/nectar for pollinators.


Arrowwood viburnum does exhibit moderate spreading capabilities through sucker growth, especially in ideal conditions. But its colonizing tendencies are relatively manageable in comparison to highly invasive plants. With smart landscape design choices, pruning, and care, arrowwood viburnum can be grown as a well-behaved shrub. Embrace its suckering nature to create beautiful masses and hedges, or control it to keep this versatile shrub neatly contained.

Arrowwood Viburnum Details Facts
Botanical Name Viburnum dentatum
Mature Size Typically 6-15 feet tall & wide
Growth Rate Moderate, 1-2 feet per year
Sun Exposure Part sun to part shade
Soil Average, well-draining soil
Hardiness Zones 2 to 8
Native Region Eastern North America