10 December 2011

Ninebark - Physocarpus opulifolius - beautiful leaves, bark & flowers

Our Zone 7 is just about the southern limit for Ninebark since it doesn't like a lot of heat and humidity. Some need cool, wet feet. A few can take more heat and adapt.

According to Missouri Botanical Garden (the common species is native to Missouri)
"Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best foliage color occurs in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Prune as needed immediately after bloom. Plants may be cut close to the ground in winter to rejuvenate."

As a matter of fact Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim., orth. cons. or, common ninebark is native to more than half of the U.S. according to the USDA's site.

The native will grow into a 5 foot tall, suckering, thicket that thrives along riverbanks.

But it's the hybrids that most gardeners are looking for. They have the characteristic peeling bark but add dramatic leaf color and stop-the-clock flowers.

Here are some of the special ones -

Monrovia
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Center Glow'

from Monrovia
"A mounded, vase-shaped, ninebark cultivar that typically matures to 6-8’ tall and as wide, and is most noted for its attractive foliage.

Maple-like leaves (to 4” long) emerge greenish-gold in spring but age to burgundy, with leaves showing both colors as they mature.
Foliage is nicely complemented by small pinkish-white, five-petaled flowers that bloom in dense, flat, rounded, spiraea-like clusters (corymbs) in late spring.
Plants in this genus exhibit exfoliating bark on mature branches. The bark peels in strips to reveal several layers of reddish to light brown inner bark, hence the common name. This interesting bark provides winter interest but is usually hidden by the foliage during the growing season."

 
Sooner Plant Farm sells it mail order when it is available.

Ninebark's famous peeling bark - Purdue Univ.

Physocarpus opulifolius var intermedus 'Dart's Gold'

Phagat says (Don't you love Phagat? Follow the link if it's new to you.)

"Three-lobed leaves emerge golden in March & age to lime-green or chartreuse in summer, then back to yellow & bronzed red in autumn before leaf-fall reveals the upright twiggy structure with vertically-cracking exfoliating orange-brown bark on the oldest twigs.

In June & July, the arching branches produce two-inch terminal pompoms of tiny white flowers with pink shimmer. These turn into red seeds about September, which are like another flowering, so that 'Dart's Gold' has multiple phases of beauty."

Forest Farm
Physocarpus opullifolius Nugget - Gold Ivd NinebarkThe west coast nursery, Forest Farm offers Nugget. It also needs regular water.






Physocarpus opulifolius 'Monlo' Diabolo® purple-leaf ninebark 
The leaves emerge deep purple, which is beautiful in spring. The color fades to green or purple-green in hot, humid climates.  The patent owner, Monrovia says Monlo diabolo likes the west coast's moist acidic soil.


MOBOT also recommends 'Seward' Summer Wine and 'Mindia' Coppertina

Proven Winners - details here
They say about Summer Wine, "Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun in the northern part or its growing range, but appreciates some afternoon shade in the St. Louis area. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Prune as needed immediately after bloom.

Coppertina "Easily grown in average, slightly acidic, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun in the northern part of its growing range, but appreciates some afternoon shade in the St. Louis area. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Prune as needed immediately after bloom and no later than mid- August."

Digging Dog Nursery has Coppertina.

Fine Gardening says Summer Wine is a tough, drought tolerant, beautiful shrub and they also mention that it doesn't do well south of zone 7.

An image search for Ninebark flowers will illustrate why they are so popular across the country! Do you grow any of the Ninebark varieties? Where do you live? Which ones thrive where you are?

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