Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’

After a long, cold and brutal winter, is there anything better than the sweet scent of flowers in spring? The correct answer is “yes” with baseball spring training a close second and NCAA March Madness a distant 3rd. There is no argument in regards to this answer.

For me, the sweetest smelling flower in spring is hands down Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’.


Typically this shrub is in full bloom by mid April here in zone 6B New Jersey and it is a welcome sight along with all of the spring bulbs in bloom. Beyond the bloom show, it signifies that warmer weather is on the horizon and that the cold weather will soon be a distant memory.

Here are some more deets and photos on my beautiful relationship with this gem.

I purchased this shrub as a tiny little guy (approximately six inches in height) back in 2009 from Bluestone Perennials. It didn’t take long to establish as here she is back in 2011.


While it took shape early on, the deer nipped off at least half of the buds each fall/winter.


I would get blooms each spring, but they were sporadic. I knew she could deliver more.

I had the shrub located in a more hidden part of my garden so I made the executive decision in spring of 2013 to move it into a more prominent location where I didn’t expect the deer to find it. With fingers securely crossed, it has thrived and the deer have left it alone.

Here is a timeline for this Viburnum starting in late winter/early spring:

The buds start to show a hint of color in March.


Then the pink buds really start to take form in early April.

viburnum bloom

Soon after, the shrub is covered in pink buds.

vib aurora

vib aurora2

And then one day … boom. Full blown blooms and full blown heavenly scent.

vib bloom



As I was compiling this post, I realized that more often than not, the dandelions in the lawn were blooming at the same time. No significance here really, just an observation. Moving on …

While ‘Aurora’ is in full bloom, it creates a “white garden” in my front bed along with the blooming Mt. Hood daffodils. It also helps take the eye away from the recently cut down ornamental grasses.

vib whites

The bloom period is rather short – maybe two weeks – but it is worth the bang for the buck in spring.

From May through mid October, this Viburnum still looks great, it just takes a back seat to all of the summer blooming shrubs and perennials.


But then by mid October, big show #2 hits with the fantastic fall color.

vib aurora

It has become a focal point in perfect view as visitors walk up my front walkway and to the front door.

vib aurora3

And as a bonus, I get to dream of the following spring as the buds have formed and stand in nice contrast to the wine red foliage color.

Dreaming of next spring’s Viburnum blooms already #garden #plants

A photo posted by john markowski (@jmarkowski0) on

A few additional bits of info before we call it a day:

  • Size – on average it is 5′ x 5′
  • Sun requirements – Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil requirements – Well drained in any soil type – works in my wetter clay soil
  • Zones – 4 to 8
  • Pruning – only immediately after blooming for shaping purposes
  • Native to Korea
  • Introduced in 1958
  • Many sites claim it is deer resistant but mine has been nipped over the years

4 thoughts on “Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’

  1. michaele anderson

    As testimonial to the attention grabbing power of its bloom, I didn’t even notice the yellow haze of the dandelions in the background until i read your mention of them. I don’t have one of these bushes but, obviously, I need to get one.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Michaele – that is the goal with my photos – draw the viewer away from everything else that is not so great.

  2. Deborah

    Yes, so loved our ‘Aurora’ viburnum shrub too! Had it for many years to enjoy the sweet fragrance until finally the squirrels discovered it! Generally in early spring and would nip off the buds. Needless to say, the shrub started dying and looked pitiful.
    So dug it out and disposed of it. Just haven’t replaced it since.
    Do hope you have better luck with yours. ^_^

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Deborah – so far so good but who knows with these starving dear in the winter. Never knew the squirrels could do that much damage. Wow!

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