Korean Spice Viburnum

A Gardener’s Guide to Korean Spice Viburnum

Korean spice viburnum, or Korean spicebush, is a deciduous flowering shrub. As its name would imply, this bush originated in Korea, but contrary to what you may be thinking, it is not used as a spice. Rather, it is so named the Korean spice viburnum because of its complex aroma—one of its more notable features.

This article provides interesting as well as helpful information for anyone considering adding Korean spice viburnum to their landscaping or garden. For more in-depth information and tips for growing it in your particular area, be sure to consult with a gardening store sales associate or a nursery manager. They will be able to advise you in regards to special concerns and problems you may come across.

Plant Description

This plant has several distinguishing characteristics, most notably its aroma. Spicy and exotic, many people compare the intriguing smell to cloves. The smell is so inviting and attractive that most home owners with a green thumb choose to plant this bush near their entranceways and other high traffic areas of their property.

Prior to blooming, the buds are a vibrant shade of pink. When it is time to bloom, however, the flowers turn white and only a smidgeon of pink remains in the innermost parts of the flowers. These blossoms tend to be in tiny clusters and are quite delicate, but very potent.

When summer comes around, the white blossoms are usually replaced by bright red berries, and these eventually turn to an intensely dark red as fall sets in. During this time, the plant’s leaves also change colors, varying from brighter reds to dark purplish shades.

Much to the delight of gardeners everywhere, the Korean spice viburnum is also a sizeable plant, reaching upwards of 6 feet at its tallest with a matching spread. If its large size does not suit your tastes, the plant can be cut back a bit.

Planting Information

This bush does best in zones 4 – 7, and prefers full sun but can handle partial shade. Soil should be kept a little acidic to really let this bush thrive. While it is fairly hardy, this shrub does need to be kept fairly moist, but well-drained so as not to encourage disease.

When you decide to plant one of these, make sure that you plan out the final location carefully and take into consideration growth and sunlight needs. You may choose to supplement your soil a little bit with fertilizer, as it will speed growth and reduce shock, but it is not necessary.



Since this plant is so considerable in size, you may wish to prune it and keep its growth in check. If that is the case, you need to remember that timing is everything with this plant. Proper shaping and cutting back can be accomplished by pruning right after the plant has flowered. This is necessary since new buds pop up on the last season’s growth.

Benefits of the Korean Spicebush

For people that enjoy flora and fauna as well, this plant is a must-have in the garden. During the springtime the delicious aroma and blossoms attract vibrant species of butterflies, making this plant ideal for butterfly gardens. Birdwatchers will also be happy, since this plant attracts many feathered friends during the summer and fall months with its juicy berries.


Thankfully, these bushes are fairly common and easily found at most gardening superstores and nurseries. They are generally sold as plants that are 2 feet tall or smaller, but it is sometimes possible to find ones for sale that are 4 feet. If you are in the market for one, it is recommended that you shop around locally or have a nursery special order one. They can be found online, but the prices are higher particularly if you want a larger plant.