How to Grow and Care for Ninebark Shrubs

Fine Gardening – Issue 202
How to Grow and Care for Ninebark Shrubs
Panther®. Photo: courtesy of Richard Hawke

A low-maintenance native shrub, ninebark grows best in full sun to light shade. Although it prefers evenly moist, well-drained soil, it is adaptable to rocky and clay soils and is drought tolerant once established. Here is more of what you should know about this tough plant.

Photo: Danielle Sherry
  • Flowers and fruit enhance the color show. Clusters of pretty white or pink blossoms appear for a short time in late spring to early summer, followed by inflated fruits that add a spot of red late in the season.

Aphid Infestation
Aphid infestation. Photo: Danielle Sherry
  • Expect a few pests and diseases. As part of the rose family, ninebarks can experience some of the same problems; fire blight, leaf spot, and aphids are occasionally troublesome. Ninebarks are considered deer resistant, which we all know is somewhat of a misnomer since deer defy such labels. Foliar chlorosis may be a problem in high-alkaline soil.

Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew. Photo: Danielle Sherry
  • Mildew is less of an issue on newer varieties. I have seen powdery mildew on ninebark foliage so densely fuzzy white that the leaves are barely recognizable as leaves. Mildew has yet to be an issue in our trial; however, ‘Chameleon’, Diabolo®, ‘Morning Star’, ‘Nugget’, Summer Wine®, and Summer Wine® Black have had minor infections. Only ‘Center Glow’ and Coppertina® were severely impacted by mildew in 2020; it was one thing I could not blame on the pandemic.

Photo: Danielle Sherry
  • Don’t underplay the bark. Ninebark gets its name from the way the older bark splits and shreds into narrow papery layers of slightly different colors. This trait is especially eye-catching in winter and gives the garden interest in the off-season.

See more

The Best Ninebark Shrubs for the Garden

Brand-New Ninebark Shrubs Showing Promise

How to Prune Ninebark


Richard Hawke is plant evaluation manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois.

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