Ninebark is not only an extremely versatile plant; the species is also experiencing many new innovations. Traditionally a green shrub with flowers and exfoliating bark, recent releases have brought ninebark new foliage colors. Their fast growing habit and appealing winter bark make these shrubs garden favorites.
New ninebark foliage colors seem to keep coming. Traditional foliage color is a deep purple, but additions now include gold and amber foliage. Some varieties even fade from one color to another as they age.
Both size and overall form have improved in new ninebark varieties. New innovations have focused on shrinking the size to better adapt to a home garden setting. In smaller varieties, habits have also changed to be more upright instead of spilling branches.
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Ninebark flowers are almost an afterthought. While they look nice, especially on varieties with dark foliage, the white and pink blooms don't last long. In the winter, the bark is what really shines through. As the bark of the older stems age, they peel back in layers, creating an exfoliation effect.
Ninebark Care Must-Knows
In just one year of growth, many ninebark varieties can reach their mature size. The rapid growth of these plants can be gratifying but also a deterrent for some people, since they may get a little too big in size. Luckily, ninebarks are amenable to pruning. Either prune after they bloom, or prune in late winter before growth starts if you don't mind sacrificing their blooms.
The biggest problem that ninebarks encounter is powdery mildew. Luckily, this won't do any long-term harm. Thinning out older stems can increase air circulation and prevent mildew.
More Varieties of Ninebark
Physocarpus 'Summer Wine' is a compact purple-leaf selection that grows 5-6 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-7
Physocarpus 'Dart's Gold' offers bright golden-yellow foliage and white flowers in early summer. It grows 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Zones 3-7.
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Donna May' is an outstanding dwarf selection that displays rich burgundy-purple leaves with white flowers in early summer. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-7
Physocarpus 'Coppertina' shows off coppery-purple new growth that matures to purple red. It grows 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 3-7
Physocarpus 'Center Glow' bears purple foliage that has a golden-yellow center when it's young. It grows 8 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-7