Common ninebark, also called eastern ninebark or Atlantic ninebark, is native to Indiana. It hasn't always been a popular landscape plant, as it tended to grow quite large with arching stems holding yellow or green leaves. Its size and growth habit were negatives that overcame its many positive attributes. Ninebark isn't finicky,and indeed has been rated “tough” in the book Native Plants of the Northeast. Ninebark is very cold hardy, grows well in a wide range of soil types, and can tolerate both damp and drought. In particular, it grows well in Beverly Shores.
Ninebark has become much more popular as a landscape plant with the introduction of a number of new cultivars. The new varieties are more compact in habit and come in a range of colors. Dart's Gold emerges bright yellow, turns lime green in summer, and then provides golden/bronze fall color. It has dense clusters of white flowers followed by small red fruits. (Native ninebark has insignificant green fruits.) Summer Wine has deep purple foliage and flower clusters worthy of inclusion in cut flower arrangements. Summer Wine grows only to about five feet tall.
Choose your cultivar carefully. Diabolo is attractive, but not dwarf. Dart's Gold, Summer Wine, and Coppertina are all supposed to stay small, but some gardeners have reported that these types are sometimes mislabeled. But if the plants threaten to get too large, they can be reined in with hard pruning. It is a good idea to prune in early spring, taking out older stems. Ninebark will resprout even if cut to ground level.
Ninebark's one drawback in our area is that deer enjoy snacking on it. It's a good idea to keep up with ERG's ongoing deer control efforts, efforts that you can aid with your ERG membership and contributions.
If you have questions about ninebark or other native or non-native plants, don’t hesitate to contact Terry Bonace (firstname.lastname@example.org), Candice Smith (email@example.com), or Bill Schaudt (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance. Also please visit our website, www.bserg.org, for further information on invasive plants and native replacements.