Common name: Ninebark, common ninebark
Hardiness Zone: 2 to 7
Height: 3 to 8 ft
Width: 4 to 6 ft
Ninebark is a cold-hardy native shrub. It is an upright spreading shrub with a wide variety of cultivars varying in size and leaf color. Young twigs are shiny and reddish-brown. Older, mature stems have brown exfoliating bark. The leaves are in an alternate arrangement and are simple with 3 to 5 lobes. They are dark green above and paler green underneath. In the fall, leaves turn a bronze-yellow. Tiny flowers, ranging from white to pink, bloom in clusters from late May to early June. The flowers give way in July to drooping clusters of reddish fruit that have inflated seed capsules. They stay on the plant until winter.
Where it Grows:
Ninebark does best in well-drained soil and full sun. It does tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and partial and full shade. Naturally, it can be found growing along stream banks, rocky ledges, and moist thickets. It also does okay with occasional drought, road salt, and wet sites. Cut the shrub close to the ground in the winter to promote growth next season.
How it's Used:
Ninebark can be used in mass for shrub borders, hedges, screens, or erosion control on banks. Also planted in native plant gardens.
The seed capsules attract seed-eating birds.
Where it is Native to:
Ninebark is native to central and eastern North America.
Known Varieties and Their Traits:
Amber Jubilee Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Jefam’): Rounded, 5 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide; new growth is yellow to orange, changing to lime green. Fall color is purple.
Coppertina™ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Mindia’): Upright, spreading reaching 6 to 8 feet high; new foliage is copper changing to reddish-bronzy.
Diabolo® Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’): Upright, 8 to 10 feet high, dark purple leaves, pinkish-white flower clusters in early to mid summer.
Little Devil Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius “Donna May’): Rounded, 3 to 4 feet high and wide; deep burgundy leaves with clusters of pinkish-white flowers.
‘Nugget’ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Nugget’): Compact, 5 to 6 feet high; finely-textured, golden yellow to lime green foliage.
Summer Wine™ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Seward’): Compact 5 to 6 feet tall shrub with deeply cut wine-red foliage. Good mildew resistance.
Tiny Wine® (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘SWPOTWG’): A small, bushy 3 to 4 feet high and wide shrub with fine-textured, deep purple leaves; small clusters of white flowers bloom up and down the stems.
Leaf spots and powdery mildew are occasional problems.