Plant of the Week: Summer Wine® Ninebark

Summer Wine Ninebark blooming in a garden

Marching into Spring with Native Ninebark

Welcome to March! Only a couple more weeks until the official first day of spring, although we’ve been having some warmer days already here in West Michigan (the cold days are still rolling, too, giving me a bit of weather whiplash). 

What are your goals for your garden this spring? Maybe you’re looking to add more native and pollinator-friendly plants to your space, or perhaps you’re looking to achieve a certain garden aesthetic. Whatever your garden goals are this year, we have an abundance of resources to help you achieve them at

If planting native and pollinator-friendly plants is one of your goals this spring, I have a shrub for your consideration: Summer Wine® ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius). 

Ninebark gets its name from its peeling bark, which appears to have multiple layers. This peeling bark creates a nice texture in the winter garden. 

Close up of the white button-like blooms of Summer Wine Ninebark

In late spring, white button-like flowers cover Summer Wine® ninebark, contrasting beautifully with the deep purple foliage. Along with its striking color combo, its whimsical habit and long arching branches make this a magical addition to landscapes and gardens. Its dark foliage looks fabulous as a foliage filler in cut flower arrangements as well!

If you want even darker foliage, check out Summer Wine® Black ninebark, which sports deep purple, near-black foliage. Both ninebarks are hardy in USDA zones 3-7, and grow to 5-6’ tall and wide. Plant these shrubs in full sun for best foliage, flowering, and resistance to powdery mildew. Ninebark is native to North America, is pollinator-friendly, and will tolerate some drought once established. 

Pruning Ninebark

A Summer Wine Ninebark blooming in the landscape in front of a house

Because of its naturally graceful arching habit, it’s actually best not to habitually cut back Summer Wine® ninebark. If it’s pruned too much, it can leave the habit looking a little strange. If you do any shaping, do so just after the plant has flowered in spring. Summer Wine® ninebark does, however, benefit from a periodic rejuvenation prune, so every 3-5 years, you can remove a portion of the oldest, thickest branches all the way to the ground.

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