Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum

Viburnum cassinoides ‘J.N. Select’

Description & Overview

A Johnson’s Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum is a stand-out selection compact ornamental shrub. In late June, creamy-white clusters of flowers explode from the dark green foliage for the world to see. When a pollinator is present, green drupes of berries are set and turn pink, blue, and black as they mature against the beautiful maroon fall color. This shrub has a dense habit and performs well in our soils.

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: Regional Ecotype Nativar
Mature Height: 5 feet
Mature Spread: 5 feet
Growth Rate: Slow
Growth Form: Compact, mounded shrub
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Site Requirements: Adaptable to many soils, but best on rich, well-drained soil
Flower: Creamy White, clusters
Bloom Period: June
Foliage: Dark Green
Fall Color: Maroon-Red
Fruit Notes: Drupe, green to pink to black, edible

Suggested Uses:

Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum has a compact habit and works well as a specimen or mass. The dense form of the plant is well suited as a screen. It looks especially stunning on an island bed when paired with other shrubs of contrasting fall color and will attract butterflies.

Wildlife Value:

The abundant flowers of Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum are loved by butterflies in summer.

Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum is not self-fertile and requires a second Viburnum cassinoides to set fruit. When the plant produces its characteristic berries, all manner of birds and mammals can be seen feasting on the plant’s crop. Expect to see Robins, Bluebirds, and Cardinals visiting the plant when the fruits are ripe!

Maintenance Tips:

Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum flowers on new wood, so it can be pruned in fall or winter before next year’s growth begins. If you feel the need to shape the plant, use the Haircut Method every 2-3 years. Otherwise, you can let the plant grow naturally.


Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum has no major insect or disease problems. When sited in wetter areas, powdery mildew or leaf spot can become problematic. In years of high pest populations, aphids, scale, and thrips can damage the plant, although these issues are usually resolved within a year.

Leaf Lore:

Freedom™ was selected in 2001 by Michael Yanny at Johnson’s Nursery from a crop of open-pollinated Viburnum cassinoides seedlings. Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum has exceptional dark green leaves, turning maroon-red in fall. It also shows improved alkaline soil tolerance over the average seedling. Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum has good density and does not have as open of a habit as most seedling plants. The flowers are creamy white flat-topped clusters that open in late June to early July. Unlike most Viburnum cassinoides, Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum presents its flowers well. The inflorescences are not hidden in the foliage.

Like most Viburnum cassinoides, the fruits are the most ornamental characteristic. In September the fruit clusters begin to go through color phases, changing from green to pink to red to blue to black. Often times they will have the various colors present at the same time. The plants are most spectacular when the bulk of the fruit is in the brilliant pink stage. It is mandatory to have another clone in close proximity in order to get proper pollination and fruit set as Viburnum cassinoides is self–infertile. Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum is no exception.

Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum will get to be about 5’ tall and wide in Southern Wisconsin. It requires rich, well-drained soil and full sun to thrive, but will survive in less ideal soils and partial shade. It can be used as a specimen plant or massed for screening purposes.

Witherod Viburnum (Viburnum cassinoides) is a rare plant in Wisconsin, but is found natively on the west side of Green Bay. It is listed as a plant of special concern due to its restricted range.

Companion Plants:

The small habit of Freedom™ Witherod Viburnum makes it an excellent focal point in a small stature bed. Pair it with St. John’s Wort, Caramel Coralbells, Little Goldstar Black Eyed Susan for a wonderful summer and fall display!

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