Nine Bark Shrub
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- Latin Name- Physocarpus Opulifolius Hardy Planting Zone- 2-8 Mature Height- 6-10 ft Width- 6-10 Sun or Shade- Full Sun
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Ninebark Shrub (Physocarpus opulifolius)
The ninebark shrub (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a very versatile plant. This shrub grows between five and eight feet tall, and it often has a spread between four and ten feet. While it prefers moist conditions, it will tolerate drought. It prefers to grow in full sun, but it will tolerate partial shade. In fact, it often thrives when a cover is provided from the afternoon sun in warmer climates. It will grow in a variety of soil conditions, and its relatively short roots make it an outstanding candidate for rocky soil.
This shrub that is an ideal candidate for hedges has a unique bark system. It exfoliates strips of its brown bark to reveal reddish-brown bark underneath. Although the strip bark is present throughout the year, it is often covered up by this plant's showy flowers during the growing season. Its present can provide great interest in the winter when other plants may be dormant.
While each shrub is restricted to just one color flower, ninebark shrubs are available in a variety of colors with pink and white often being the most popular choices. Five-petal flowers appear in flat spirea-like clusters that can measure up to two inches in diameter. While the flowers appear in late spring, they usually fade quickly leaving behind clusters of reddish seed capsules resembling a bladder. The seed capsules eventually open and drop in the fall.
The leaves can be up to four inches long on this shrub have between three and five lobes. They are dull green in the summer before turning a yellow color in the autumn.
This deciduous shrub usually does best when it is pruned shortly after blooming. Cutting it back in the winter often helps to rejuvenate it, but it is not necessary if using this shrub for winter interest.
Nine Bark shrubs have a few tips you should consider. The first suggestion is to wait until the late fall before you start pruning or thinning them out. You could also do it in early spring when the blooming and new growth begins. The second tip is to cut the long twigs that are going to stick out of the top of the plant along with the bottom and sides of the ninebark. The best way to do this is with pruning shears to cut the twigs 1/4 inch above the exterior bud or the bud that is facing the outside of the shrub.
The third tip is to remove all of the interior branches that can become very large. You will need to do this with the lopping shears for the best results. You can cut the branches off at the point of origin of the plant. Only about one-third of the interior branches will need to be removed during this pruning process. The fourth tip is to do some lighter pruning on the branches that are out of place once the plant is in full bloom so you will be able to see all of the branches of the ninebark.
The fifth tip is to cut the branches back to the ground. You should remove one-third of the branches and the thicker stems. But this will only need to happen if there is a lot of dead wood or unruly growth that the essential pruning will not be able to correct. The sixth tip is to make sure that you are pruning the ninebark on a regular basis. This is because it will need to be able to be exposed to air.