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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Trees and Shrubs > Common Ninebark

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Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)

Beth Berlin and Kathy Zuzek

Plant description

Mature height: 3 to 10'
Mature width: 3 to 10'
Growth rate: Medium to fast
Plant form: Upright-spreading
Deciduous or evergreen: Deciduous
Native range: Quebec to Georgia and west to Minnesota and Colorado
Native to Minnesota: Yes
Invasive in Minnesota: No

USA map of native range of Arrowwood viburunm

The native range of common ninebark in North America. From USDA, NRCS Plants Database. Click to enlarge.

Minnesota map of native range of Arrowwood viburunm

The native range of common ninebark in Minnesota. Minnesota DNR.

Culture

Light: Sun to part shade
Soil texture: Sandy, loam, clay
Soil pH: 6.1-8.5
Soil moisture: Poorly-drained to well-drained and dry to wet soils
Hardiness zone: 2 to 7
Pests and stresses: None serious. Powdery mildew infections on leaves and stem tips and associated witches brooms can occur on some cultivars. Visit What's wrong with my shrub? – Viburnum for a list of the most common ninebark pests in Minnesota.
Other: Tolerates compacted soils, drought, and flood conditions

Common Ninebark in the landscape

Until the late 1990s, common ninebark was a medium to large, multi-stemmed, green- or yellow-foliaged shrub with arching stems that had little appeal as a landscape plant. Newer cultivars now offer unique foliage color and smaller plant size. These ornamental traits in combination with the species' cold hardiness and its adaptability across a variety of soil textures, moisture levels, and pH make it an appealing and versatile landscaping shrub for Minnesota gardens and landscapes. Traditionally ninebarks were used in mass, border, or screen plantings but newer cultivars with their smaller size and colorful foliage allow for additional landscape use as accent or specimen plants. Spring flowers are also attractive nectar sources for butterflies and other pollinators.

Common ninebark provides interest throughout the year. Spring color of the 3-lobed maple-like leaves will vary by cultivar and may be yellow-orange, burgundy, crimson-red, gold, or green. Leaf color and intensity of color of some cultivars will change across the growing season. Planting ninebarks in full sun ensures best foliage color. 1-2" white or pink flat-topped flower clusters appear from spring through mid-summer and are followed by pink to red clusters of seed capsules that eventually turn brown in late fall. The multicolored, peeling bark provides winter interest in the landscape.

Cultivars have been selected for their foliage color, dwarf or compact plant habit, and powdery mildew resistance.

Ninebark bush with white flowers.

Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension

Plant habit of common ninebark

Line of small, brown Ninebark bushes.

Bailey Nurseries

Plant habit of Little Devil™, a dwarf ninebark cultivar

Closeup of the ninebark's jagged, reddish leaves.

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Summer foliage of the Summer Wine® ninebark

Closeup of the ninebark's yellow-green leaves.

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Summer foliage of 'Dart's Gold' ninebark

Flowers of 'Dart's Gold' ninebark.

Bailey Nurseries

Flowers of 'Dart's Gold' ninebark

Fruit of Summer Wine ninebark

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Fruit of Summer Wine® ninebark

Some cultivars grown in Minnesota:

Cultivar traits:
Cultivar Green Leaf Color Maroon, Burgundy, or Purple Leaf Color Chartreuse or Yellow Leaf Color Red, Orange, or Copper Leaf Color Dwarf Habit Compact Habit Tolerant of Mildew
Amber Jubilee® X X X X   X  
Burgundy Candy X X     X   X
Caramel Candy X     X X    
Center Glow™ X X X X      
Coppertina®   X   X     X
Dart's Gold     X     X  
Diabolo®   X          
Festivus Gold™     X     X  
Lady in Red   X   X   X  
Lemon Candy     X   X    
Little Devil™ X X     X    
Nanus X       X   X
Nugget     X     X  
Red Robe™   X X        
Summer Wine® X X       X X
Tiny Wine® X X     X    
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