A row of Viburnum Tinus grow below the window of our den. The plants fill the space nicely between the ramp to the deck and our house. It’s a good-looking shrub, producing pretty flowers and berries during the winter months. But…that smell.
We naively thought the pungent smell was coming from under the house. I thought a small animal might have died in the crawl space. My husband thought a neighborhood cat was spraying and tried a deterrent in the immediate area. The smell was so overpowering when we opened our window in the spring that we started keeping it closed while we researched the cause.
Last summer we noticed the lower leaves were a grayish brown. Turns out we had thrips. Was that what caused the smell? We ordered beneficial insects (the larvae eat the thrips), reassured that we had good insectary sunflowers nearby for the mature adults. Further, I heavily pruned the lower branches, cutting away as much damage as possible. I hauled all the underbrush away from the plants to allow air circulation.
I noticed today that the thrips are back (along with the tell-tale brown leaves) though the plant continues to grow, flower and fruit. I did a little research, and it seems the smell and the thrips are exclusive. According to Plants For a Future the tinus “plants give off an offensive smell in wet weather.” Several writers on the forums describe it as something a dog left.
That’s it! At long last we have our answer. Now what to do about that odoriferous smell?