Korean Spice Bush: Amazingly Fragrant Option For Your Garden

Korean Spice Bush: Amazingly Fragrant Option For Your Garden

Korean Spice Bush

Photo Compliments Of Andrey Zharkikh

Viburnum carlesii, or Korean spice bush is a slow-growing, upright, rounded, deciduous shrub which typically matures at 4 to 5 feet, but can reach a height of 8 feet in optimum growing conditions; there are compact versions.  Red buds open in late March or early April.  The pink buds change to white flowers which are arranged in snowball-like clusters and average 3 inches across.  One of the reasons for choosing this shrub is the outstanding fragrance.  Flowers give way to non-showy, berry-like drupes which mature to blue-black in late summer. Broad ovate, serrate, dark green leaves (to 4 inches in length). Foliage usually turns dull red in fall, but may sometimes display attractive shades of wine-red to burgundy.

How To Make Your Korean Spice Bush Thrive

Viburnum carlesii is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.

General Korean Spice Bush Information

Pests & Diseases

There are no serious insect or disease problems. Bacterial leaf spot and powdery mildew are occasional problems.


The easiest way to propagate Korean spice bush is with softwood cuttings during the summer.  Late spring and into the summer really depending upon your location.  When you propagate plants via softwood cuttings you are using new growth; growth from the current growing season.  That’s why you have to wait until at least June the beginning of June.  You have to give the new growth a chance to harden off just enough that cuttings will stand on their own and not wilt over.


Pruning should be done immediately after flowering since flower buds form in summer for the following year.

Garden Uses

You can plant this shrub in groups or mix with other broadleaf shrubs. This can be both a border or foundation plant.  The attractive, highly fragrant flowers are its best feature.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Adoxaceae
  • Common Name: Korean Spice Bush
  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 4 to 7, my garden is zone 8 and it thrives in my garden with morning sun.
  • Height: 4 to 6 feet
  • Width: 4 to 8 feet
  • Bloom Time: March to April
  • Bloom Description: White
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Water: Medium
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Flowers: Showy Flowers, Fragrant Flowers
  • Wildlife: Attracts Birds
  • Tolerates: Planting in proximity to a black walnut

Photo Search

Google – Korean Spice Bush Photos

Flickr – Korean Spice Bush Photos

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  1. Here we call this one “mayflower viburnum.” It has been one of my favorites for a long time.

  2. I absolutely LOVE viburnum! The pink to white transition of this variety is really special.
    ps. I never knew the common name before reading your post!

  3. Even though this flowers for such a short time, the perfume makes it really worth its space. Christina
    Christina recently posted..Deadly trapMy Profile

  4. I love the fragrance this plant produces. There are a few in the neighborhood.
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  5. I have never heard of this, Charlie.
    It’s really beautiful, and the flower looks very much like a lilac to me.

    • The plant is really robust and will adapt to most conditions. The fragrance rivals sweetbox for how pervasive it can be. There is both the 5 to 8 foot version as well as a compact variety. The only shortcoming is the flowers are relatively short lived.

  6. We had one of these at a house we used to live in and you are right, the fragrance is amazing.

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