It is difficult to find a shrub that fits all, or most all, locations and soil conditions. Ninebark (Physocarpus) is one of these plants. A medium-size shrub, growing to 6-8 feet, it can be used as a foundation plant or border for the small yard.

Ninebark adapts to dry or heavy soils, as long as the ground is not constantly wet. Full sun to partial shade suits it, with the purple foliaged variety showing off best in full sun. You will find this true of most red, purple, yellow, or gold varieties of shrubs. In shade the foliage often turns green.

Ninebark is a very resistant plant when it comes to insect and disease problems. At a time when new, serious insects seem to be cropping up, this shrub has fared well. Japanese beetles do not appear to be drawn to it.

The leaf of ninebark is similar to viburnum or hawthorn and has ornamental interest for its difference from the vast majority of rounded or oval types. As it ages, the bark peels in strips that provides winter interest. White flowers emerge in June and, while not as striking as spirea, are quite showy.

Diablo Ninebark (opulifolius "Monlo") grows to a 7'x7' shrub with burgundy leaves that turn nearly black in the fall. Golden Ninebark (opulifolius "Lutea") grows to 10' and has yellow leaves that change to gold in the fall. Nugget Ninebark (op. "Nugget") has leaves emerging golden yellow and maturing to a nice lime green. It grows to about six feet and is more suitable for a foundation plant.

Consider the above varieties of ninebark when looking for something a little different. You will not be disappointed.


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Poland Spring, Maine
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