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11 Delightful Viburnums for Your Charlottesville, VA Butterfly Garden

Table of Contents for Charlottesville, VA Viburnums

General Information about Native Plant and Pollinator Gardens

When planting a native plant and pollinator garden in Charlottesville, Virginia, you need to ensure that you have a selection of plants that provide blooms at different times of the year. Besides viburnums, other host plants that attract other butterflies and pollinators should be considered. These could include pawpaw (Asimina triloba) for zebra swallowtail, wild cherry (Prunus serotina) for eastern tiger swallowtails, and trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) for hummingbirds.

In addition to the plants, you need to provide a source of water such as a birdbath or water feature, shelter for animals, and nesting locations for birds. Be sure to also include plants of different heights for perching. Resources you can use for more information on butterfly gardening in Charlottesville, VA include the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont, Cultivated Charlottesville, and the Albemarle County, VA native plant database.

Location of Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, VA highlighted in red on a Virginia map.
State of Virginia map with Charlottesville Highlighted in Red — David Benbennick made this map. For more information, see Commons:United States county locator maps., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Charlottesville, Virginia is located in central Virgnia at the eastern end of the Blue Ridge mountains.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones in Charlottesville, Virginia

2023 Virginia USDA plant hardiness zone map.
2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the State of Virginia — USDA Public Domain

Charlottesville, Virginia is located within plant hardiness zone 7b. Between 2012 and 2023, the zone changed from 7a to 7b. When selecting plants in Charlottesville, you will want to get those that can handle temperatures as cold as 50F.

Butterflies in Charlottesville, Virginia that are Hosted by Viburnums (Viburnum spp.)

Henry's elfin on the ground.
Henry’s Elfin — Callophrys henrici (Grote & Robinson, 1867)
observed in United States of America
by izzykracken (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Spring azure butterfly on leaf.
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) — ALAN SCHMIERER, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly on vegetation.
Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) — D. Gordon E. Robertson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Henry’s Elfin (Callophrys henrici)

The Henry’s elfin has a dark brown upperside and an underside that is two-toned brown. As an adult it is a small butterfly with a wingspan of 0.8 in (2.0 cm) to 1.0 in (2.5 cm).

The light green eggs are laid on the leaves of the host plant. The larva hatch from a orange-brown pupa and range from greenish-yellow to red-brown in color. This species has one brood a year.

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

The holly blue is slvery blue in color with ivory dots on the upperside and a silvery-white underside. Adults have a wingspan of 1.4 in (3.6 cm) to 3.5 in (8.9 cm).

The whitish eggs are laid on the host plant and they have green or brown larvae. This species can have up to three broods throughout the growing season.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

The Spring Azure is a silvery metallic blue on the upperside and has a silvery underside. Females, unlike the males, have a black margin on the wings. A fully grown adult has a wingspan of 0.87 in (2.2 cm) and 1.38 in (3.5 cm).

The whitish eggs are laid on the flower buds of host plants. Several broods a year, more in the south and less in the north, can produce green colored larvae with brown accents.

Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton)

The Baltimore Checkerspot is a white, orange, and black speckled butterfly. It is a common butterfly of the eastern United States and southern Canada. Adults have a wingspan of 1.6 in (4.1 cm) to 2.5 in (6.4 cm).

The eggs of this species are yellow and become a reddish-tan color with age (wildadirondacks.org). The larva are black with orange stripes (Pyle 1981) and have one brood that flies from May to July. Its name comes from its resemblance to the crest of the Lord Baltimore (Pyle 1981).

List of Viburnums that are Native or Nearly Native in Charlottesville, Virginia

1. Maple-leaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), a Viburnum for Dry to Moist Well-drained Soils

Maple-leaf viburnum is found rich forests, woodlands, and woodland thickets in dry to moist well-drained soils that are slightly acidic. The plants should get about 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day. During dry spells, the plants shoud be watered and a layer of mulch should be laid to help suppress weeds. Suitable companion plants for this species include butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum), and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).

White flowers of maple-leaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium).
Maple-leaf Viburnum — Viburnum acerifolium L. observed in United States of America by Annie Weissman (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Facts about Maple-leaf Viburnum

  • Native to Virginia: Yes, generally northwestern counties and scattered in south (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: Rich forests, woodlands, and woodland thickets that have medium to dry soils.
  • Height: 3 ft (0.9 m) to 6 ft (1.8 m)
  • Flower Color: cream to white
  • Flowering Period: June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Gardening with Maple-leaf Viburnum

2. Bracted Viburnum (Viburnum bracteatum), a Viburnum for Medium to Moist Well-drained Soils

Bracted viburnum, in the wild, is found in open wooded areas where it can get full sun to part shade conditions. It prefers medium to moist well-soils that are slightly acidic. To feature this plant in your garden, plant it in the center with the companion plants surrounding it in the center. When selecting companions try to get plants that match the white flowers of the viburnum. Some possible plants to choose are similar to those of the maple-leaf viburnum. Be sure to have a variety of nectar plants that bloom throughout the season in order to provide sustenance to the insects.

Shrub of bracted viburnum (Viburnum bracteatum) in a wooded area.
Bracted Viburnum (Viburnum bracteatum) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Bracted Viburnum

  • Native to Virginia: No (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: No
  • Natural Habitat: open wooded areas
  • Height: 6 ft (1.8 m) to 10 ft (3.0 m)
  • Flower Color: cream to white
  • Flowering Period: May to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-8

Gardening with Bracted Viburnum

3. Southern Arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum), a Viburnum for Medium to Moist Well-drained Soils

Southern arrow-wood is so named for the straight stems that used to be made into arrows by the Native Americans. This shrub can reach a height of 15 feet and has white flowers. Soils should be medium to moist and well-drained with a full sun to part shade exposure. In the fall the blue berries are enjoyed by birds. Suitable companion plants include those previously mentioned plus coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), beebalm (Monarda didyma), and blazing star (Liatris spicata). Additional boulders can be provided to give resting places for butterflies.

Leaves of southern arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum) in a wooded area.
Leaves of Southern Arrow-wood — Viburnum dentatum L. observed in United States of America by Yann Kemper (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Southern Arrow-wood

Viburnum dentatum var. dentatum in Virginia

  • Native to Virginia: Yes (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: Rich forests, woodlands, floodplains, and wetlands
  • Height: 5 ft (1.5 m) to 15 ft (4.6 m)
  • Flower Color: cream to white
  • Flowering Period: March to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-8

Gardening with Southern Arrow-wood

4. Nanny-Berry (Viburnum lentago), a Viburnum for Medium to Moist Well-drained Soils

Nanny-Berry in the wild grows wooded wet areas and grows from 15 to 18 feet tall. In a garden situation it requires medium to moist soils and full sun to part shade. Companion plants should be chosen to provide a color tapestry and enhance the feeding opportunities provided by this shrub. Suitable plants with nanny-berry include New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), wild indigo (Baptisia australis), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis). A variety of goldenrods (Solidago spp.) can be provided for autumn nectaring.

Black and red fruits of nannyberry (Viburnum lentago).
Fruits of Nannyberry — Viburnum lentago L. observed in Canada by Ian Whyte (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Nanny-Berry

  • Native to Virginia: Yes, historic to Virginia (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: No
  • Natural Habitat: Rich woods that are moist, stream banks (King 1912), swamps, roadsides (Arnold Arboretum 1919), wood edges (Mohlenbrock 1954), thickets (McCormac and Schneider 1994)
  • Height: 15 ft (4.5 m) to 18 ft (5.5 m)
  • Flower Color: cream to white
  • Flowering Period: May to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-8

Gardening with Nanny-Berry

5. Soft-leaf Arrow-wood (Viburnum molle), a Viburnum for Moist to Dry Well-drained high-pH Soils

Soft-leaf arrow-wood, in the wild, grows on rocky bluffs and bottomlands. It can get a height of 6-12 feet high and white blossoms in the spring with blue drupes in the autumns, which are loved by birds. Suitable companion plants in the Charlottesville area include mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium), alum-root (Heuchera spp.), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica), and woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata).

Herbarium specimen of soft-leaf viburnum (Viburnum molle).
Herbarium Specimen — Viburnum molle Michx. by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0).

Facts about Soft-leaf Arrow-wood

  • Native to Virginia: No (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: No
  • Natural Habitat: Rocky bluff forests on calcareous substrate and bottomlands (wikipedia).
  • Height: 6 ft (1.8 m) to 12 ft (3.7 m)
  • Flower Color: cream to white
  • Flowering Period: May to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-8

Gardening with Soft-leaf Arrow-wood

6. Possumhaw (Viburnum nudum), a Viburnum for Medium to Wet Well-drained Soils

Possumhaw, in the wild, grows in wetland areas and reaches a height of up to 15 feet. The snowball shaped white flowers come out in May and it has a blue-black drupe in the fall that is enjoyed by birds. The leaves also have an attractive red color in the fall. Suitable companion plants in the Charlottesville area include aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium), thread-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), and Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica).

Fruits of possumhaw (Viburnum nudum) in a wooded area.
Possumhaw fruits —Viburnum nudum L. observed in United States of America by Becky (licensed under CC0 1.0).

Facts about Possumhaw

Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides and Viburnum nudum var. nudum in Virginia

  • Native to Virgnia: Yes, throughout (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: Swamps (wikipedia), seepage swamps (Belden and Derge 2003 and Sundell, et al 1999), and bogs (MacRoberts, et al 2004)
  • Height: 5 ft (1.5 m) to 15 ft (4.6 m)
  • Flower Color: white to cream
  • Flowering Period: April to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Gardening with Possumhaw

7. Small-leaf Arrow-wood (Viburnum obovatum), a Viburnum for Medium Well-drained Soils

Small-leaf arrow-wood grows in mesic woodlands and in a garden setting with ideal conditions can reach a height of 30 feet. However, generally it is shorter. Like a number of other viburnums, it has white flowers and blue-black drupes that are eatern by birds. Possible companion plants include rose mallow (Hibiscus coccineus), blazing star (Liatris spicata), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).

White flowers of small-leaf arrow-wood (Viburnum obovatum) in a wooded area.
Small-leaf Arrow-wood — Viburnum obovatum Walter observed in United States of America by kcthetc1 (licensed under CC0 1.0).

Facts about Small-leaf Arrow-wood

  • Native to Virgnia: No (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: No
  • Natural Habitat: disturbed mesic woodlands (Anderson 2007)
  • Height: 10 ft (3.0 m) to 30 ft (9.1 m)
  • Flower Color: white
  • Flowering Period: March to April
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10

Gardening with Small-leaf Arrow-wood

8. Smooth Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium), a Viburnum for All Soils

Smooth blackhaw is generally found in disturbed habitats and like the small-leaf viburnum can greatly exceed the height its wild counterparts in an ideal garden setting, growing up to 30 feet. It also has white flowers and reddish-purple drupe in the fall that is loved by birds. Companion plants that provide a good color contrast include butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and joe-pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosum).

White flowers of smooth blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) in an open area.
Flowers of Smooth Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) — Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Smooth Blackhaw

  • Native to Virginia: Yes, throughout (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: Open areas, upland woods, floodplains (Gaddy 2008), disturbed habitats (Clark and Bauer 2001), thickets (Fernald 1936)
  • Height: 7 ft (2.1 m) to 30 ft (9.1 m)
  • Flower Color: White
  • Flowering Period: May to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Smooth Blackhaw

9. Downy Arrow-wood (Viburnum rafinesquianum), a Viburnum for Dry Well-drained Soils

Downy arrow-wood is found in woodland areas in the wild and is noted for its fall foliage, which is a bronze-purple color. Growing up to 10 feet tall it has white to cream flowers and a blue-black drupe, loved by birds. Possible companion plants in the Charlottesville area include New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), blazing star (Liatris spicata), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), obedient plant (Physostegia virgniana), and columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

White flowers of rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum).
Flowers of Rusty Blackhaw — Viburnum rufidulum Raf. observed in United States of America by alymharmon (licensed under CC0 1.0).

Facts about Downy Arrow-wood

  • Native to Virginia: Yes, central and western counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: open woodlands, rocky hillside (Reaume 2009), rocky shorelines (Rousseau 1974), limestone savanna (Alvar) (Catling and Brownell 1995), dry thickets (Maycock and Eahselt (1997), and low woodlands (Fernald 1942)
  • Height: 6 ft (1.8 m) to 10 ft (3 m)
  • Flower Color: white to cream
  • Flowering Period: May to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Gardening with Downy Arrow-wood

10. Smooth Arrow-wood (Viburnum recognitum), a Viburnum for Medium to Moist Well-drained Soils

Smooth arrow-wood can found in wetland areas and woodlands in the wild. Growing up to 15 feet tall, this species has white flowers and drupes that are loved by birds in the fall. Suitable companion plants include blazing star (Liatris spicata), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and spotted Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum).

White flowers of smooth arrow-wood (Viburnum recognitum).
Flowers of Smooth Arrow-wood — Viburnum recognitum Fernald observed in United States of America
by Bill Keim (licensed under CC BY 4.0).

Facts about Smooth Arrow-wood

  • Native to Virginia: Yes, central and western counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: No
  • Natural Habitat: swamps (Dugal 1988), damp thickets (Roedner, et al 1978), thickets (Palmer 1974), secondary dunes and seasonal ponds (Lortie, et al 1991), and mesic woodland forest (Larimore, et al 2008)
  • Height: 5 ft (1.5 m) to 15 ft (4.6 m)
  • Flower Color: white or rarely pink (Roedner, et al 1978)
  • Flowering Period: March to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Gardening with Smooth Arrow-wood

11. Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), a Viburnum for Medium to Dry Soils

Rusty blackhaw is generally found in drier woodlands in the wild. Growing up to 20 feet tall, it has white flowers and blue-black drupes in the autumn. Companion plants that complement it include butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), sweet Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

White flowers of rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum).
Flowers of Rusty Blackhaw — Viburnum rufidulum Raf. observed in United States of America by alymharmon (licensed under CC0 1.0).

Facts about Rusty Blackhaw

  • Native to Virginia: Yes, scattered throughout (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Charlottesville: No
  • Natural Habitat: rocky or dry woods (Steyermark 1940), limestone (Thompson, et al 2005), cedar barrens (Carr 1944), oak-hickory woodlands (Wofford, et al 1979), calcareous prairies (MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1996), and disturbed habitats (Clark and Bauer 2001)
  • Height: 10 ft (3.0 m) to 20 ft (6.1 m)
  • Flower Color: white to cream
  • Flowering Period: April to May
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Gardening with Rusty Blackhaw

When selecting your Charlottesville, Virginia viburnum, be sure to make sure that it grows in your zone and habitat.

Books where you can find out more about Butterfly Gardening in Charlottesville, Virginia

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References for Charlottesville, Virginia Viburnums

  • Arnold Arboretum. 1919. Viburnum lentago. Bulletin of Popular Information. 5 (7): 28.
  • Belden, Allen and Katherine L. Derge. 2003. The flora and fauna of Virginia Army National Guard OMS No. 1 and No. 2 near Sandston, Henrico County, Virginia. Banisteria 22: 22-42.
  • Bouchard, Andre’, Denis Barabe’, Madeliene Dumais, and Stuart Hay. 1983. The Rare Vascular Plants of Quebec. (Ottawa, ON: National Museum of Natural Sciences).
  • Catling, Paul M. anf Vivian R. Brownell. 1995. A review of the Great Lakes Region: Distribution, floristic comparison, biogeography, and protection. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 109 (2): 143-171.
  • Carr, Lloyd G. 1944. A New Species of Houstonia from the Cedar Barrens of Lee County, Virginia. Rhodora 46: 306-310.
  • Clark, Ross C. and Ryan M. Bauer. 2001. Woody Plants of Six Northern Kentucky Counties. Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science 62(1): 39-51.
  • Dugal, Albert W. 1988. Southern Arrow-wood, Viburnum recognitum, A Rare Ontario Species in the Ottawa District. Trail & Landscape 22 (4): 151-155.
  • Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1942. The Seventh Century of additions to the flora of Virginia. Rhodora 44: 457-479.
  • Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1936. Plants from the Outer Coastal Plain of Virginia (continued). Rhodora 38: 414-452.
  • Gaddy, L.L. 2008. A New Sessile-Flowered Trillium (Liliaceae: Subgenus Phyllantherum) from South Carolina. Phytologia 90 (3): 382-390.
  • Kartesz, J.T. The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2015. Taxonomic Data Center (BONAP). Chapel Hill, N.C. [maps generated from Kartesz, J.T. 2015. Floristic Synthesis of North America, Version 1.0. Biota of North America Program (BONAP). (in press)].
  • King, Wilbur. 1912. The Flora of Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Torreya 12: 208-215.
  • Koller, Gary. 1981. Shrubs for Hillsides and Embankments. Arnoldia 41: 193.
  • Larrimore, Richard L., Loy R. Phillippe, and John E. Ebinger. 2008. Vascular Flora of Middle Fork Woods Nature Preserve, Vermillion County, Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 38, article 4.
  • Lortie, J.P., Bruce A. Sorrie, D.W. Holt. 1991. Flora of the Montgomery Islands Chatham, Massachusetts. Rhodora 93: 361-389.
  • MacRoberts, Michael H., Barbara R. MacRoberts, and Lynn Stacey Johnson. 2004. Observations of Parnassia grandifolia DC. (Saxifragaceae) in the West Gulf Coast Plain. Phytologia 86: 98-103.
  • MacRoberts, Barbara R. and Michael H. MacRoberts. 1996. The floristics of calcareous prairies on the Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana. Phytologia 81: 35-43.
  • Maycock, Paul F. and Dianne Eahselt. 1997. An inventory of ecologically significant natural vegetation in the province of Ontario: 1. Essex County. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 101: 474-486.
  • McCormac, J.S. and G.J. Schneider. 1994. Floristic Diversity of a Disturbed Western Ohio Fen. Rhodora 96: 327-353.
  • Mohlenbrock, R.H. 1954. Some notes on the flora of Southern Illinois. Rhodora 56: 227-228.
  • Palmer, Ernest J. 1947. Second supplement to the spontaneous Flora of the Arnold Arboretum. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 28: 410-418.
  • Reaume, Tom. 2009. Biology of the Downy Arrow-wood (Viburnum rafinesquianum). Blue Jay 67 (2): 89-96.
  • Roedner, Beverly J., David A. Hamilton, Keith E. Evans. 1978. Rare Plants of the Ozark Plateau: a field identification guide. USDA: North Central Forest Expriment Station.
  • Rousseau, C. 1974. Ge’ographie floristique de Que’bec/Labrador. Distritbution des principales especes vascularies. Les Presses de of I’Unversitie Laval. Quebec 799 pp. in (Bouchard, et al 1983).
  • Steyermark, Julian. 1940. Studies of the vegetation of Missouri – I. Natural Plant Associations and Succession in the Ozarks of Missouri. Botanical Series Field Museum of Natural History 9(5): Publication 485.
  • Sundell, Eric, Thomas R. Dale, Carl Amason, Robert L. Stuckey, and John Logan. 1999. Noteworthy Vascular Plants from Arkansas. Sida 18: 877-887.
  • Thompson, Ralph L., J. Richard Abbott, Andrew E. Shupe. 2005. Vascular Flora from Five Plant Habitats of an Abandoned Limestone Quarry in Clark County, Kentucky. Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science 66 (1): 24-34.
  • Wofford, Eugene B., Thomas S. Patrick, Loy R. Phillippe, David H. Webb. 1979. The Vascular Flora of Savage Gulf, Tennessee. Sida 8: 135-151.
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Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe is a professional ecologist and botanist who has worked as the State Ecologist of Delaware and as an ecologist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. He is also a former Past-President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. He currently is an innkeeper at McMullen House Bed & Breakfast LLC and a web designer and owner for Silphium Design LLC.

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