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Wayfaring Tree

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  • January 13, 2017
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Viburnum lantana

Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’ – Mohican Sun Wayfaring Tree

I didn’t pay much attention to this plant for the first decade as an arborist.  It’s a nice shrub, but not spectacular, and it can easily go unseen for most of the year in the back of a large shrub bed.  A few years ago, I started to notice just how hardy and tough this plant is, as it manages to get through winter almost unscathed.  Then I had the chance to work on a few specimens and realized it really makes a great border at the back of a bed, grows well in alkaline soil, and is malleable (which is to say, it responds well to pruning and can be easily trained).  I now try to incorporate this plant into designs where appropriate.

Wayfaring tree exhibits nice white flower clusters (cymes) in spring, and has an impressive display of berries in late summer, that changes in colour from green to red, and finally to black.  The plant attracts birds and butterflies to the garden.  It is a useful shrub to consider, and not overly common on the landscape.  The mature plant can reach a height and spread of about 6′.


Full sun to part shade

Pruning Time

Dormancy is best (late October to early April), so you can see the framework of branches.


Although it is a shrub, I prune it like I would a miniature tree, by removing crossing/rubbing branches, deadwood, disease, and broken limbs.  I manage the overall shape by reducing wayward limbs as needed.  If planted in the correct location, this shrub shouldn’t need hard pruning, just a few cuts each year to manage the structure and form.

Crown Reduction and Training

Although unnecessary, wayfaring tree responds very well to shaping (not shearing) with secateurs.

(c) 2017 Shane LePage, Wild Rose Garden & Tree Service Inc., Red Deer, AB