viburnums, birds, and the leaf beetle

pankhi(z7Md)May 8, 2005

I was planning on expanding the viburnums in my yard to include: V. nudum Winterthur, V. cassinoides, V. prunifolium, V. trilobum Alfred, and V. X Pragense.

However, all of the above are susceptible to the viburnum leaf beetle. I am in Maryland near Washington, D.C. and though it has not been reported here, it is only a matter of time before my yard is affected.

Therefore, with regards to my future viburnums, it appears that I should limit myself to the Cornell University's list of non-susceptible viburnums: V. bodnantense, V. carlesii, V. davidii, V. x juddii, V. setigerum, V. sieboldii, V. plicatum var. tomentosum, and V. rhytidophyllum.

The questions I have are:

1) Which of the non-susceptible viburnums (other than the V. davidii V. plicatum var. tomentosum, and V. rhytidophyllum, since I either already have them or it hasn't done well in my yard) are best for birds, specially as fall/winter food?

2) Does anyone know the susceptibility of V. X Chesapeake, and V. Conoy to the leaf beetle?

3) Any other non-susceptible viburnums for birds?

Thank you.

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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

I don't have direct answers to #1-3, other than probably none are the "best" for birds, since one would assume you want to support native birds. To do that best, use native plants that those birds would expect to find food from. Of those you listed, V. setigerum (not a native) is the only one that reliably has fruit on the plant through fall and into winter.

Philosophically speaking, I think you deprive yourself of some great joy by predicting doom and/or gloom from VLB. This isn't a parallel situation to planting a shade tree that takes many decades to mature, fill in, and shade a site, only to be lost to DED, EAB, or ALB. Most shrubs (and certainly the viburnum species you listed first) perform and reward in very few years (1-5). Unless you expect to invest significant capital in the plants, you ought to go ahead and plant what you want to and enjoy the dickens out of them until VLB (if ever) shows up.

By then, it may not be the scourge in MD that it is in upstate NY/PA. There may be a control for it by then, or it may never even arrive in MD.

I'd vote for all the species you originally listed, with V. acerifolium and V. rufidulum as two more natives. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 11:05PM
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roseunhip(z5b QC)

Excellent reply above!
Also, AFA the natives to your State go, besides V. cassinoides, look for its "cousin" V. lentago (the nannyberry V.). As I have seen so far in a dozen or so years of gardening with this lovely and easy "bird hit", the VLB (we are in the Montreal, QC area) ignores it (and I am pretty sure the same goes for V. cassinoides).
V. lantanoides (AKA V. alnifolium) is charming and gorgeous (esp. at this time of year!), and is immune to the VLB. Not easy to find in nursery though, and requires acidic soil to thrive and fruit.
I have had good success so far at keeping my V. trilobum (the highbush crannberry tree, an essential sp. for late winter bird/cosmetic fruits) VLB-free in our VLB-critical zone, apparently, by treating it thoroughly against aphids with Safer soap, a few times during the growing season. "Fingers crossed", but it's as if the VLB hated the taste of the leaves thus treated. In Montreal, just across the river from here, park plantings of V. trilobum are horribly affected some summers, while ours thrive just fine!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 8:28AM
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pankhi(z7Md)

Thank you again Viburnumvalley and thank you Roseunhip for setting my paranoia straight.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 12:31PM
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