A competitive environment makes us work harder. It can inspire us and push us to do better. Just look at some of the great rivalries of all time: Frazier vs Ali, Jobs vs Gates, Dannii vs Kylie. Well, it just so turns out that the old garden favourite Photinia ‘Red Robin’ has some hot competition from an unexpected candidate…
Viburnum Coppertop is tipped to be the next big landscaping shrub; it will be as synonymous in your neighbourhood as lampposts and tarmac. Now, there’s a lot of pressure on the shoulders of this new plant, so it has undertaken years of rigorous testing. It also isn’t the type of Viburnum you’d see every day in plantings. It is Viburnum odoratissimum, an oft-forgotten species. Let’s be honest, it’s rather a Plain Jane plant with that generic ‘green shrub’ look- yet the new Coppertop looks set to change its fortunes!
How was this plant created?
Plant Developer, Kip McConnell, is always on the lookout for new, different and unusual plants and travels the breadth of America to find them! On one of his plant hunting trips, he called in at PJ Klinger in Florida, where the third generation still owns and operates Brantley Nursery. Viburnum odoratissimum is a widely used plant in commercial and residential landscapes around the USA and especially Florida, so it was a plant PJ had been working with previously.
When you grow so many of a plant, you get to know it well, and you can spot differences and changes a mile off. And, the plant that went on to be known as Coppertop was no exception. Like a beacon, the vibrant bronze tips of the shoots stood out from all the others, and it had a smaller leaf and more compact habit to boot!
All of these attributes made Coppertop significantly different from other Viburnum odoratissimum in the market, and also placed it firmly into the landscape and retail market. This was a new, durable shrub that anyone could grow. Photinia ‘Red Robin’ better watch out!
What’s different about this plant?
The vibrant reddish new growth of Viburnum Coppertop is its defining factor, and WHEN you trim, it just keeps on coming! Of course, the botanical buffs amongst you will know the name ‘odoratissimum’ means odour, i.e. fragrance. And, yes it has the very best, sweet fragrance. A spring garden or patio will be enhanced by the confetti blooms of Coppertop, and the interest will continue way beyond those spring months, too.
Where can you plant Viburnum Coppertop?
It’s an incredibly malleable plant, and can be trained as a hedge, shaped into a column, or simply allowed to plug a gap in an established border!
All this wonderful shrubs needs is a good, well-drained soil and a position in sun or shade, i.e. almost anywhere in the garden. It can also be grown in containers of soil-based potting mix, perhaps underplanted with spring bulbs. Its impossible to get the pruning wrong too. Light trims and shaping is all it needs, and any haircut will encourage sparkly new red foliage anyway!
Where can you buy this plant?
Viburnum Coppertop will soon be available in UK garden centres and by mail order. In the US, visit southernlivingplants.com for retail sources.
How to grow Viburnum Coppertop:
Flowering time: May to June
Location: Borders, hedging, patio pots
Soil: Any well-drained soil
Light: Sunny, or light shaded, position
Hardy: Survives down to -10C!
Care: Prune to shape
Size: 2.4m (8′) high x 1.5m (5′) in spread
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America). Viburnum Coppertop was developed by PJ Klinger of Brantley Nursery, and offered for sale by Kip McConnell of Southern Living Plants in the United States.
See every Plant of the Month here.