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Ninebark is a native shrub that used to be a one-trick pony with its late-spring flowers. Now that plant breeders have gotten involved, there are some outstanding cultivars with intriguing foliage and more compact shapes. The flowers remain a draw, but now there is something to look at in the other three seasons as well.

Closeup images of ninebark shrub foliage and flowers

While common ninebark isn’t so common anymore, there are plenty of superior cultivars carrying the ninebark name proudly. They have the same great flowers in late spring, but they also boast colorful foliage. ‘Dart’s Gold’ has bright yellow young foliage, while Coppertina has orange-copper leaves in spring. Diabolo has burgundy foliage that turns red in fall. And ‘Center Glow’ has gold-yellow centers surrounded by burgundy. All ninebarks are more colorful in full sun. In shade, leaves revert to a greener hue.

Ninebark shrubs can become large so they are best used as background plants. Little Devil is a newer cultivar that grows only 3 feet tall, so it can be used in the front of a border. Use burgundy-leaf cultivars to provide contrast to green companions. Other cultivars can brighten the spring garden and then become a backdrop for summer perennials.

ninebark shrub shown in the landscape

Plant Type: Shrub

Zones: 3–7

Height: 3–12 ft

Width: 3–12 ft

Light Exposure: Full Sun, Partial Sun

Bloom Color: Pink, White

Bloom Time: Late Spring, Early Summer

Foliage Color: Green, Yellow/Orange, Purple/Burgundy

Special Features: Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Low Maintenance, Pest Tolerant, Winter Interest

Uses: Screen/Privacy, Slope/Erosion Control, Shrub Border

Growing Ninebark

Ninebark is a tough, resilient plant that accepts sandy or clay soils and is not fussy about soil pH. Keep it well watered the first year after planting—ninebark is drought-tolerant once established. Fertilize with a tree and shrub fertilizer in spring and spread some compost around the base annually to intensify its color. Shrubs have an upright, arching habit and can look “leggy” if not pruned regularly. Prune shrubs immediately after flowering has finished to keep them neat and to encourage thicker foliage without jeopardizing next year’s blooms.

South Central Gardening: Favorite Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs provide color, texture, and winter interest to Oklahoma and Texas landscapes. Here are some to consider for the South Central region.

Learn More