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Growing Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' in a tiny garden - Is it feasible to tame this into shape?

My 2yo shrub has just started to come into bud which is really exciting for me. I think with the amazing heat and lots of intermittent rain has brought this one in leaps and bounds. My flower bed is about 6m x 3m long jammed to the gills with lots of plants and bulbs and some other shrubs. Will it possible to keep the shape Viburnum to a smaller size (currently at 4')?

I've also got Cercis Forest Flame, Prunus Beni-chidori 5' tall tree, a dwarf Lilac Paladin nearby. 


  • I'd say 4ft is already small for 'Dawn'.  They want to grow into large shrubs/small trees if left to their own devices.  To keep it as small as possible without losing flowers, you can completely remove 1/3rd of the oldest stems each year, cutting them right back to the ground after flowering.  The other 2/3ds of the stems are not pruned at all until it is their turn to be removed.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • I think that restricting its height will result in a rather ugly shaving brush effect ... but in the past I have restricted V. Bodnantense ‘Dawn’ to a small ‘footprint’ by rubbing out the lower sideshoots while allowing the higher ones to grow up and out. 

    This resulted in it growing into a sort of multistemmed small tree, about 7’ in height, narrow at the base and with airy spreading branches at the top.

     I then controlled the size by taking out a few of the older stems at the base each spring. 

     It was very attractive and worked well giving much needed height in a small garden ... a bit like a small woodland glade. 

    Underplanted with primroses and snowdrops it looked gorgeous. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 9,976
    edited November 2020
    I've had a Dawn for many years.
    It did get out of hand and some years ago so I pruned it all back so it was no more than 6ft high. It is at least 6ft wide, but that's not an issue for me.
    Every summer they send up long shoots from the branches. I cut them all back to about 6ft around August. It seems happy enough and is just coming into flower.

    PS as Bob says it is a good idea to remove a few of the old stems so there is some fresh growth
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • newbie77newbie77 Posts: 1,653
    I have noticed if i cut any shoot really hard there are new shoots emerging from it or base next season which makes it wider and it takes more space. The best controlled growth would be to let it make a small tree like shape like how dove mentioned above. 
    South West London
  • Thanks for all your replies, folks - I'll keep in mind these suggestions. Shall I prune after the flowering finished or wait till early spring? 
  • I would cut out the older stems at the base in early  spring. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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