Plant of the Week: Tiny Wine Ninebark


Tiny Wine® Physocarpus is a nice dwarf plant that is smaller than others on the market. It is extra-bushy, with small, refined leaves that stay colorful throughout the season. The dark bronze-maroon foliage is a nice contrast to the pinkish-white spring blooms.

Since it is just 3-4' tall and wide, Tiny Wine ninebark fits well into residential landscapes and other smaller sites where larger varieties just get too big. You can even grow it in a patio container; like other ninebarks it is hardy to USDA Zone 3 so should overwinter well above-ground in most of North America.

Physocarpus is a great plant. It's native, very hardy, and new varieties like Tiny Wine ninebark are colorful all season. Bees love it. Its only potential flaw is a tendency to have powdery mildew, which can be avoided by proper selection and siting.

Tips for Growing Physocarpus

First off, plant Physocarpus in full sun. Good air circulation is also helpful. I have a row of Coppertina® ninebarks in a full sun, southwest exposure with lots of wind coming through the nearby cornfields. There is no windbreak to speak of, and West Michigan gets some righteous wind - 40-50 mph gusts left a lot of folks without power last week. That's a site that would have a lot of plants looking wilted and tattered, and the Coppertina ninebarks love it. 

Secondly, pay attention to the cultivar. Summer Wine® Physocarpus has good resistance to powdery mildew; Tiny Wine ninebark comes from the same breeding, so we expect it will trial well, too. Check out this evalution published in American Nurseryman for a good review of many popular cultivars.

Physocarpus is a very hardy plant, growing happily far into the north. Luckily it provides nice winter interest with its exfoliating bark - a real benefit for those of us in the Snowbelt. It's a tough customer and will tolerate a lot, but those of you in Zones 8-9 may find that it isn't super happy in your heat and humidity. Finally, established plantings of Physocarpus have good drought tolerance.

OK, ready for a bit of fun? Check out this hypnotic wind map.


Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles.

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