Viburnum obovatum 'Reifler's Dwarf'
Common Name: viburnum 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Adoxaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 10.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 (probably also Zone 6) where it is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates close to full shade. Best growth occurs with consistent and even moisture. Tolerates wet soils in the wild. This is an evergreen shrub, but it tends to be semi-evergreen to deciduous near the northern edge of its growing range. Plants appreciate some afternoon shade in hot summer climates. In optimum growing conditions, plants may spread by suckers to form thickets. If growth is attempted in USDA Zone 6, plants should be sited in protected locations and given a winter mulch.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Viburnum obovatum, commonly called small-leaf viburnum or Walter viburnum, is an evergreen to semi-evergreen to deciduous (depending on winter temperatures) large shrub that typically grows with a dense rounded habit to 10-12’ tall and as wide, but will occasionally soar (sometimes in small tree-like fashion) to as much as 20-25’ tall. It is native to swamp margins, stream banks and moist low open woods along the coastal plain from South Carolina to Florida and Alabama.

Small-leaf viburnum is in part noted for its large size and very small leaves. The oblanceolate to spatulate to obovate-rounded leaves grow to only 1-2” long. Leaves add varying amounts of purple color in fall (depending on geographic location) but remain semi-evergreen to evergreen in warm winter climates. Tiny, white, 5-petaled flowers in dome-shaped clusters (2 1/4” diameter cymes) bloom March-April. It is one of the earliest viburnums to flower in spring. Egg-shaped blue-black fruits (1/ 4” long) mature in September or October. Wood has a rank odor.

Genus name comes from the Latin name of a species plant.

Specific epithet is in reference to the obovate shape of some of the leaves.

‘Reifler’s Dwarf’ is a dwarf selection which grows to 4-5’ tall with a spread to 5-6’ over the first 5 years. It was introduced into commerce by Steve Reifler in Florida.


No serious insect or disease problems. Potential disease problems include bacterial leaf spot, mildews and crown gall. Potential insect problems include aphids, scale, thrips and whiteflies. Watch for mites.


Broadleaf evergreen shrub for informal hedges, screens, barriers, foundations, borders or open woodland areas. Fragrant late spring flowers, fall fruit and evergreen foliage make this an interesting and attractive landscape shrub.

‘Reifler’s Dwarf’ is a dwarf cultivar which grows extremely well in foundation plantings.