Ninebark Shrub Growing Profile

Physocarpus opulifolius

Physocarpus opulifolius - diablo (ninebark), shrub with red flower & purple foliage, july
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Common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a versatile shrub that can handle many different types of growing conditions. Leaves can come in shades of green, yellow and purple.

Latin Name:

The scientific name associated with this shrub is Physocarpus opulifolius. It is in the Rosaceae family.

Common Names:

The name ninebark is said to be inspired by the way that the bark splits, forming layers of strips on the stem.

Perhaps there were nine strips present when this name was formed. This species is known as common ninebark or Eastern ninebark.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

There are different varieties that can grow in Zones 2-8.

Size and Shape:

Common ninebark is usually from 5-10' tall and wide with a rounded shape. There are dwarf varieties available.


Plant in a location that receives full sun to part shade.


The species name (opulifolius) tells us that these leaves are like those of Viburnum opulus, which has lobed leaves. The ninebark's leaves are 3-4" long.

This shrub is related to spirea and has similar clusters (umbels) of small white flowers. They develop into red inflated fruit (follicles) in the fall, which provides food for wildlife and winter interest in the garden.

Design Tips:

After a year of establishment, ninebark will flourish in the drought tolerant garden. There are varieties available that are able to survive in harsher areas.

Varieties with Purple Leaves:

  • 'Center Glow' - yellow center surrounded by purple
  • 'Mindina' (sold under the name Coppertina™)
  • 'Monlo' (better known as Diablo®)
  • 'Seward' (Summerwine™)

Varieties with Yellow Leaves:

  • 'Dart's Gold'
  • 'Luteus'
  • 'Nugget'

Growing Tips:

Common ninebark will grow in both dry and wet locations.

It can tolerate either alkaline or acidic soil. It really is quite hardy and will be a champ in rough spots.


Prune your ninebark in spring before it starts growing again. You can also feed them with a slow-release fertilizer at this time.

Pests & Diseases:

There will not be many problems plaguing this shrub. It is in the rose family, which is a favorite of aphids, but they don't bother these plants as much as others. Powdery mildew can strike if the leaves stay wet. Deer do like to nibble on ninebark.