Viburnum or Aronia for Bird Attracting?

claire25(7)January 24, 2012

Hi all,

I am trying to decide between planting several Viburnum or Aronia as shrubs near several dogwooods on my property. Specifically, I like Viburnum nudum for its glossy leaves, Viburnum dentatum for its leaf shape, and Aronia arbutifolia for its bright red berries. All have great fall color, set quantities of berries, and I think would work well aesthetically in this shrub border area by my dogwoods that I'm planning...I only have room for three shrubs here, though, and I'd like to keep to the same species if possible.

So, which one is my best pick? I am primarily interested in attracting birds, but fall color/landscape value matters to me, too. By the way, the area in question receives full sun and has very sandy soil, but is near one of my flower beds so I keep it well watered in dry spells.

P.S. I have three Crabapples ('Donald Wyman') planted in my front yard as well, also for the purpose of providing food for birds, but though they set copious quantities of fruit, I never see any birds eating it! In fact, the fruit just hangs on the trees all winter til it dries up and falls off in the spring. Are birds just not particular fans of crabapples??

Thanks...I'm pretty new to gardening for wildlife, and I appreciate all your help.

Claire

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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

Sounds like you are doing just about everything right - except positive marketing of the 'Donald Wyman' fruit. Need some different birds, maybe.

As far as your shrub choices, those are all good for fruit/foliage/fall color. They differ dramatically in form, however.

**The Aronia arbutifolia is quite leggy and always appears to me to be having a bad hair day. In fall color, it is great - and its red winter fruit display is fabulous and long lasting.

**Arrowwood Viburnum is steadfast and tough. It will set blue fruit in midsummer, which birds scarf up before fall. Most forms have a mix of yellow/orange/red fall color which doesn't dazzle. You'd have to narrow the field to a select few to guarantee that autumn show of brighter reds/oranges. Arrowwood is generally pretty big, as well, typically 8-12' tall and wide.

**Viburnum nudum is a great species, and there are several fine forms to use. It forms a broad rounded mound for me, always has glossy summer foliage and mostly long lasting burgundy fall color - though some selections can develop reds/oranges/pinks/yellows within their range. The stellar gradations and evolution of fruit colorations never fails to please - this unmatched but by a few plants. Expect this plant to reach 8' as well.

If you weren't already aware, plan to plant at least two different clones of the viburnums in your group of three, to ensure heavy fruiting. Viburnums are typically poor at self-pollenizing - but great at cross-pollenizing. So (for example) if you choose V. nudum, plant 'Winterthur' AND 'Brandywine' in the grouping. If you plant all 'Winterthur', expect poor fruit set.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:58AM
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claire25(7)

Thank you very much for your reply, viburnumvalley! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I appreciate your comments about each of those shrub options...it's particularly good to hear about the Aronia...in the location I have planned for it, a "leggy" looking shrub just wouldn't work. Your descriptions of the other two have left me wanting both, ha ha!! It's definitely helpful to read your descriptions, since it's great to hear from someone who's grown the plants and is in a position to compare them! I might go with the nudum for now, and see about planting some Aronia in the backyard at a later date (I have sort of a "wild" area back there that would perfectly suit a shrub a little leggy-looking).

Funnily enough, a few days ago I saw a pair of bald eagles hanging out on an old dead tree behind my house, and this morning the feeder was pretty busy with titmice, cardinals, and finches! So, at least I know that the birds are nearby, and perhaps even enjoying my yard...now if I can only get them to stay.

Claire

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:26PM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

Not sure I have a recommendation about the eagles...

Enjoy your new plants, and report back with progress.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 7:43AM
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