Viburnum opulus, commonly called the Guelder-rose or the European cranberry bush, is a viburnum that is native to Europe, Asia and N. Africa. It is a deciduous shrub with a rounded spreading habit that typically grows to 10-15’ tall. It features lacecap-type white flowers in spring in flat-topped 3” wide cymes of tiny fertile florets surrounded by larger sterile florets, drooping clusters of cranberry-like red berries (drupes) in fall and three lobed, maple-like, dark green leaves. The berries (drupes) are technically edible, but are very bitter in taste and are not recommended for eating fresh off the shrub. Foliage turns a sometimes attractive purplish red in fall. Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers loams with consistent moisture, but tolerates a wide range of soils. Species plants sometimes grow in wet or boggy soils in its native habitat. Prune as needed immediately after flowering. Garden Uses. Shrub borders or foundations. Woodland margins. Hedge or screen. Hardy in zones 3-8.
Growing Instructions for the Guelder Rose
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 10 weeks. 2. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Fill a pot with a mixture of half potting soil and half sand or vermiculite. 3. Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. 4. Water the container. 5. Put the pot in a warm, sunny area. 6. Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. 7. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.