Four Seasons of Interest
Looking for a fast growing shrub to use as part of a hedgerow, privacy planting, or habitat island? Ninebark is your answer. Super-easy to grow, it has 4 seasons of interest:
- Spring: Profusion of white flowers in late spring to early summer.
- Summer: The shiny green leaves provide that privacy so many people crave in a shrub AND highlight the gradually deepening red color of the seeds that are forming. Many people mistake the red seed heads for a second bloom.
- Fall: Yellow-bronze fall color
- Winter – the tangle of branches that provided that privacy for you in the summer also provides it for birds and other creatures. The thick bare branches still will obscure your neighbor’s trash can/driveway/old car/ugly fence from sight. And now you can see the nests and the bird activity this shrub supports! The bark on older stems exfoliates (peels off) adding to its visual appeal. These layers of peeling bark are what lead to its common name of Ninebark
This multi-purpose shrub tolerates wet to dry soil, sandy or rocky soil, clay soil, and all sunlight but full deep shade. It tolerates alkaline and acidic soils as well as dry soil. You can renew it by cutting it to the ground in late winter. It blooms after the riot of all the spring bulbs. It arching branches form a mound up to 5 to 10 feet tall and wide — similar to the non-native forsythia. Easy to transplant, this shrub is perfect for beginning gardeners. It occurs naturally in moist cliffs, wet woods, sandy and rocky streambanks in most areas of Pennsylvania, except the northernmost counites.
Other common names for the plants are Atlantic Ninebark, Common Ninebark, Eastern Ninebark, Ninebark.
Ninebark is of special value to native bees. Once established is tolerates heat and drought. Bees, Butterflies, Pollinators, Beneficial Wasps and song birds rely on it for shelter and food. Some of its lesser known, but wonderfully named, visitors are the Ninebark Pygmy Moth and the Unicorn Caterpillar.