Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diabolo' pp11211
Eastern Ninebark
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Family: Rose family (Rosaceae)
Native Habitat: Quebec to Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan and Minnesota


As an ornamental, Eastern Ninebark usually has little to recommend it. It is a vigorous grower that easily adapts to difficult situations. However its coarse winter texture, relatively short season of bloom, and its unremarkable foliage relegate it to the second rank of ornamental deciduous shrubs.

In 1968, in a field of 120,000 seedlings of Physocarpus opulifolius being grown near Hamburg, Germany, one seedling was discovered that had amazing deep-purplish leaves. 'Diabolo' has since become an incredibly popular shrub in both Europe and the U.S. However, one must wonder how there ever could have been enough demand for plain green-leaved Ninebark for one nursery to grow 120,000 seedlings! In my 30 years as a nurseryman I've probably seen fewer than 50 green-leaved Ninebarks planted. I guess it's just those crazy Germans!

You may be wondering about the common name, Ninebark. It refers to the shredding, exfoliating bark, i.e. - bark with many layers or bark with "nine lives".

Ornamental Characteristics:
Dark purplish foliage. Pink buds open to ball-shaped pinkish-white flower clusters in June. Quite effective in flower. 1/4" reddish fruits in fall.
Habit & Growth Rate:
Upright deciduous shrub. Fast grower to 4 to 8 ft. high and wide.
Landscape Uses: Hedges, shrub border, specimen plant.
Hardiness: Zone 3 to 7
Easy grower in full sun to light shade. Medium to dry soils. Prune as needed after flowering. May be pruned nearly to the ground in winter to rejuvenate plant.
Awards: Recommended, Ohio Nursery & Landscape Assoc.
Gold Medal Plant Award, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society