leatherleaf viburnum

Leatherleaf Viburnum: How To Grow and Care

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The leatherleaf plant is also known as the leatherleaf viburnum. This medium-sized bush is native to China, even though nowadays it can be found everywhere around the world. 

Continue reading about this plant and discover how easy it is to maintain this gorgeous bush:

Basic Facts about Viburnum rhytidophyllum

  • This plant’s botanical name is Viburnum rhytidophyllum. This deciduous shrub belongs to the Adoxaceae family of plants. 
  • According to the USDA, it will thrive best in zones 5 to 8. Even though it has naturalized in many parts of North America, in some states such as Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, or South Carolina, this bush is considered an invasive species. As a result, it is prohibited to plant it in those specific areas.
  • Besides, it can rapidly grow up to 10 feet in height, making it even more threatening in those areas where this bush is prohibited. 
  • This bush produces white flowers that welcome pollinators in early spring, and it also has berries at the beginning of fall. This fruit will be red but will eventually change its color to glossy black. 
  • Many birds love the taste of the berries; thus, they will consume the fruit and drop the seeds everywhere, making it difficult to control how many leatherleaf shrubs appear in nature. 
  • Additionally, this plant can self-sow too; therefore, the plant can quickly expand its range and invade different areas.

How To Care for Leatherleaf Viburnum

Do remember this shrub is often considered an invasive species. Always check first whether your state allows you to plant the leatherleaf berry bush. 

If planting this species is not allowed in your area, you should definitely consider paying close attention to your governmental rules. If not, you could get into real trouble, or you could seriously damage the natural areas of your zone. 

Light Requirements

The leatherleaf viburnum requires to be fully exposed under direct sunlight. It prefers to have up to 6 hours of light daily. Some shrubs will survive in a partially shaded area, but it will depend on the agricultural zone they are in. 

If summers are dry and too hot, then it would be best to protect the shrub by placing it in a partially shaded place. On the contrary, if winters are too strong and windy, it is advisable to place the shrub in a sheltered area. 

Water Needs

The leatherleaf is not too demanding when it comes to their water needs. As long as their soil is moist, they will do great. 

If there are prolonged periods or seasons of droughts, it is advisable to water regularly and thoroughly. Every other day, for example, will be great for this plant. On the other hand, if there is a rainy season or if the area tends to flood, then it would be best to protect it by placing it under a partially shaded area. 

Soil Preferences

garden spade

The leatherleaf is not picky when it comes to the soil they are growing in. However, they do require well-drained soil to thrive. In terms of the soil’s consistency, they will do great in acid soil, and they will tolerate alkaline or clay soil.

Pests and Diseases

The Viburnum rhytidophyllum is known for its adaptability and its willingness to grow healthy, even in the most challenging terrains. As a result, they don’t have any insect or disease problems that affect them.

Yet, its foliage is often prone to discoloration, and more often than not, if winters are hard, the foliage will simply drop off altogether. 


This shrub prefers to grow long upright stems instead of growing on its width. This barberry tends to show off by having large stems with large and multiple leaves. It creates a magnificent shade; although, it is definitely a slow grower.

Try pruning some of the stems. This way, you can be sure that there will be new growth in no time. 

In addition, as soon as this shrub blooms and all the flowers drop off, the Viburnum rhytidophyllum will start forming new buds for its growth cycle for the following year. Ideally, it is best to prune this shrub as soon as the flowers have completely gone. This way, you will make sure that your tree is growing the way you want it to grow.

Lastly, if the shrub is looking old or if the weather has not been good on it, you could try cutting it to the ground level. This way, the shrub will redirect all of its energy toward its regrowth. 


Here are a couple of frequent questions regarding the leatherleaf shrub.


The leatherleaf is a showy shrub that everybody loves! If there is a difficult place in a garden and other shrubs seem to dislike this particular area, chances are the Viburnum rhytidophyllum will thrive in that spot! 

Also, its creamy white blooms never fail to impress those who admire them. And pollinators are often attracted to the blooms’ colors, scent, and shapes. Besides, birds are known for devouring the berries this shrub produces; thus, if you plant this species, you will be giving food to other species as well! 

This shrub is so easy to care for and maintain, but you should only do so if you live in an area where this plant is not considered an invasive species.

*image by simonapavan/depositphotos

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