From the Desk of Ed Hume: Laurustinus, an Evergreen that flowers for about six months

October 24, 2012 at 2:55 PM Leave a comment

Every year the fall, winter, and early spring flowering Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) gains in popularity because of its six month flowering season.  It’s an especially popular plant in our garden because it flowers when not much else is in bloom in the garden.  It not only provides color in the garden, but the branches can be cut for indoor arrangements as well.  The clusters of shell pink flowers begin opening in our garden in October or early November and continue until about mid-April, at which time the plant comes into full bloom.

The two most common varieties are Robustum and Spring Bouquet.  Robustum grows upright, 6 to 12 feet high and 3 to 6 feet wide.  Spring Bouquet is more compact, growing only 4 to 6 feet high and wide.  In addition, there is a variegated leaf variety, which has green leaves with white and yellow markings.  However, it is not as readily available as the other two varieties.

I have them planted in both our home garden and in our Educational Garden.  The medium green leaves make an excellent background for the attractive clusters of flowers, which have a slight fragrance.  All of our plants have a nice dense growth habit and bloom prolifically.  Metallic blue berries form on many plants after flowering.  As a bonus, the mature berries serve as food for birds.

Our plants never need pruning because Myrna (my wife) cuts the branches for arrangements during the winter and early spring when they are in bloom.  However, if pruning is required, it can also be done immediately after they have finished flowering.  If possible, try to make your pruning cuts within the green foliage parts of the plant.

It is said that this variety of Viburnum grows and flowers best in full sun.  However, I want you to know that we have plants growing in full sun and also in part sun and shade, and they seem to grow equally well in both locations.

One important requirement is good drainage.  Also, late in summer and early fall you’ll want to begin hardening the plants by withholding some water.  In other words, do not water them quite as much as you would most other plants in the garden.

Here is another point that you need to know about their care: If you walk by the plant when it’s in bloom and your nose picks up a smell like dirty rags, it’s the decaying leaves that have fallen to the ground. So simply rake up the leaves and add them to your compost or send them away in the recycle bin.

If needed, the best time to fertilize is in mid-May.  Use a Rhododendron or Evergreen type fertilizer.  Of course, read and follow application directions on the fertilizer package.

For more information on winter and spring flowering plants log on to our website www.humeseeds.com

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