Ninebark Plant Profile
Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a native shrub with beautiful foliage, arching stems, and Spirea-like spring flowers. The common name, Ninebark, refers to the multiple layers of attractively peeling and shredding bark.
It is also called Atlantic, Eastern, or Common Ninebark. The West Coast native version is the Pacific or Tall Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus). Ninebark also has an Asian counterpart, Physocarpus amurensis.
Ninebark prefers full sun and not to be crowded as powdery mildew can be an issue. It can tolerate periodic wet soils and is adaptable to a wide variety of growing conditions. It is hardy to USDA zones 3 to 7.
It is loved by native bees, butterflies, and other nectar-seeking insects. Birds use the shredding bark for nest material, shelter in the shrub, and also eat the fruit. The cut branches make a great addition to flower arrangements and the shrub itself is a good replacement for overused invasive exotic shrubs like Nandina or Barberry.
Ninebark is experiencing a breeding boom with many new cultivars being introduced to the market. Michael Dirr in the newest edition of his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, admits to a change of heart about Physocarpus and now endorses it for its adaptability, multi-season interest, and new generation of colorful cultivars.
‘Diabolo,’ the original ground-breaking purple-leaf cultivar, was introduced in 1999. ‘Coppertina’, ‘Little Devil’ ‘Summer Wine,’ ‘Lady in Red’ (also known as ‘Ruby Spice’), and ‘Amber Jubilee’ are all great additions to the garden.
These cultivars are better suited for most garden conditions. The straight native species needs space to grow. It can easily get to 10 feet by 10 feet. To control it, prune off any suckers that emerge from the surface roots and cut it to the ground annually during winter dormancy. You can also dig out unwanted suckers and pass them along to others. Ninebark roots easily and sends up shoots readily.
Note that Ninebark is considered deer-resistant, but not deer-proof.
Ninebark: You Can Grow That!
The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine as part of our Plant Profile series for Mid-Atlantic USA gardeners.
Video, audio and text by Kathy Jentz
Editing by Christine Folivi
Photos by Proven Winners Color Choice Collection.
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~ Podcast: GardenDC
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