Shrubs: American Cranberry Bush

American Cranberry BushOne of my favorite landscape plants is the American Cranberry Bush (Viburnum trilobum). That’s because it provides year-round interest so it has really earned its place in my garden.

In the spring, it has beautiful white lace-cap flowers that are just stunning. They are similar to some of the hydrangeas and other viburnums. They look so delicate and graceful, especially when lightly fluttering in a breeze.

Those flowers will be replaced by yellow-green berry clusters as the season progresses, which soon turn a pleasing red. The clusters remind me of bunches of cherries because the berries are such a bright, translucent red. You can make jelly with them although I haven’t tried doing that yet.

In the fall, the berries become a deeper red and the foliage turns a bright red, which really makes the plant stand out in the garden.

Now, I mentioned it provides year-round interest, so what about the winter? Even though the leaves will have dropped by then, the berry clusters remain and that draws in different types of birds. Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings just love eating the berries, as do the robins that arrive in late winter.

It’s hard to decide whether to call this plant a shrub or a small tree. It can grow to from 8 to 12 feet tall but primarily has a shrubby growth habit. It’s hardy down to zone 4 (the Inland Northwest is generally in zone 5) and isn’t particular about the soil at all. Every so often, I have to prune off some of the arching branches if they shade too many plants below, but otherwise it’s very low-maintenance.