Plant Encyclopedia

Summer Wine® Black Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

Learn more

The Landscaper's 

AVN succeeds by helping you & your business succeed.

  • 6 Locations

  • Plant Experts

  • +100 years in the industry

  • +2000 Plants

Summer Wine® Black Ninebark

Discover More Information On Summer Wine® Black Ninebark

The Summer Wine® Black Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a strikingly beautiful shrub that brings a unique blend of elegance and drama to any landscape. Renowned for its deep, nearly black foliage, this variety of ninebark stands out with its saturated colors and versatile growth habit, making it an excellent choice for accentuating the exterior of homes or for use in public gardens.

This deciduous shrub reaches a mature size of about 5 to 6 feet in both height and spread, creating a balanced and substantial presence in the garden. Its upright stems and small foliage contribute to a fine textural effect, especially when juxtaposed against plants with larger leaves or different colors.

One of the most captivating features of the Summer Wine® Black Ninebark is its foliage, which maintains a rich, dark tone throughout the growing season. This deep color provides a perfect backdrop for the clusters of white flowers that emerge in the spring, offering a stunning contrast that can enliven any garden space.

Plant Attributes

The Summer Wine® Black Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a deciduous shrub that is highly prized for its unique and striking attributes. It stands out with its medium height, typically reaching between 60 to 72 inches (5 to 6 feet) both in height and spread, making it a substantial addition to any garden space. This balanced growth allows it to create an impactful visual presence whether used as a standalone specimen or as part of a larger garden composition.

The plant's most notable characteristic is its foliage, which presents a deep, almost black shade. This dark foliage provides a dramatic backdrop in the garden, contrasting beautifully with lighter-colored plants or serving as a striking complement to brighter flowers. In the spring, the Summer Wine® Black Ninebark produces clusters of white flowers, offering a stunning visual contrast against its dark leaves. This combination of dark foliage and bright blooms makes it a focal point in any landscape.

Landscape Use

The Summer Wine® Black Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) offers a range of landscaping uses due to its unique attributes, making it a versatile choice for various garden designs and purposes. Here are some of the key landscaping uses for this plant:

  1. Border Planting: Its moderate size and striking foliage make it ideal for use in garden borders. It can serve as a backdrop for smaller plants or as a border edge for walkways and garden paths.
  2. Container Gardening: This ninebark variety can be grown in large containers, where its dramatic foliage can add a bold statement to patios, decks, and other outdoor living areas.
  3. Cut Flower Garden: The white spring flowers are attractive in cut flower arrangements, adding a natural and rustic touch to bouquets.
  4. Screening: Due to its dense growth habit, the Summer Wine® Black Ninebark can be used for screening purposes, providing privacy or hiding unsightly areas in the garden.
  5. Landscape Accent: Its unique black foliage makes it an excellent specimen plant, drawing the eye and adding a focal point in the landscape.
  6. Mass Planting: Planting multiple specimens together can create a dramatic effect, especially in larger landscapes, where its deep foliage color can make a significant visual impact.
  7. Specimen or Focal Point: It can stand alone as a centerpiece in a garden, particularly in areas where its dark foliage can contrast with lighter surroundings.
  8. Mixed Beds: The shrub can be combined with other plants in mixed beds, where its color and texture can complement a variety of flowers, grasses, and other shrubs.
  9. Wildlife Garden: As a native North American plant, it can be used in wildlife gardens to attract birds and beneficial insects.
  10. Erosion Control: Its root system can help stabilize soil in areas prone to erosion.
  11. Coastal Exposure: The shrub's hardiness makes it suitable for coastal landscapes, where it can tolerate salty air and wind.
  12. Urban Landscaping: Its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions, including urban environments, makes it a good choice for city gardens and public spaces.

Planting & Care

The Summer Wine® Black Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is relatively easy to plant and care for, making it a great addition to many gardens. Here's a guide to help you with planting and caring for this unique shrub:

Planting Instructions

  1. Timing: Plant in early spring or fall to allow the roots to establish before extreme temperatures set in.
  2. Location: Choose a location that receives full sun, as this shrub thrives in at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
  3. Soil Preparation: The Ninebark is adaptable to a variety of soils but prefers well-drained soil. Amend heavy clay or sandy soils with compost to improve soil structure.
  4. Planting Depth and Spacing: Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Space plants about 5-6 feet apart to allow for growth and air circulation.
  5. Watering: After planting, water the shrub thoroughly. Continue to water regularly for the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.

Care and Maintenance

  1. Watering Needs: Once established, the Ninebark has average water needs. It can tolerate some drought but performs best with consistent moisture, especially in extreme heat or when planted in containers.
  2. Pruning: Minimal pruning is required. Prune in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or damaged branches. You may also thin out older stems to encourage new growth.
  3. Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring.
  4. Mulching: Mulch around the base to conserve moisture, reduce weeds, and protect the roots in colder climates.
  5. Pest and Disease Management: Generally, Ninebark is resistant to pests and diseases. However, keeping good air circulation around the plant can prevent fungal diseases.
  6. Winter Care: In colder climates, no special winter care is required, as this shrub is quite hardy.
  7. Long-Term Care: Every few years, consider removing some of the older, thicker stems to rejuvenate the plant and encourage more vigorous growth.

Additional Tips

  • Sunlight Exposure: Planting in full sun encourages the best foliage color and flowering.
  • Avoid Over-Pruning: Over-pruning can stimulate excessive growth at the expense of the plant's natural, elegant shape.
  • Location Considerations: Ensure good air circulation around the plant to minimize leaf problems.

By following these planting and care instructions, your Summer Wine® Black Ninebark should thrive and enhance your garden for many years.

Additional Information

Interested in

Summer Wine® Black Ninebark


Plant Features

  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Watering Needs: Average water needs; ensure regular watering, especially in extreme heat or when planted in containers.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: fy-so-KAR-pus op-yoo-lih-FOH-lee-us
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Deciduous
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Average Landscape Size: Typically grows to 5-6’ tall and 5-6’ wide, providing a substantial presence in the landscape.
  • Special Features: Border Plant, Container, Cut Flower, Good for Screening, Landscape, Mass Planting, Specimen or Focal Point. Ideal for adding dramatic color and texture to the garden.
  • Dramatic Foliage: Deep, nearly black foliage.
  • Foliage Color: Black
  • Blooms: Spring
  • Flower Color: White
  • Flower Attributes: Clusters of white flowers offer a stunning contrast against the dark foliage.
  • Garden Style: Suitable for a variety of garden styles, including contemporary and rustic. Adds an elegant, dramatic touch to any landscape.
  • Design Ideas: The Summer Wine® Black Ninebark is perfect for creating a bold statement in garden borders, as a focal point in mixed beds, or for adding contrast in a predominantly green landscape. Its unique color makes it an excellent choice for modern garden designs, as well as for more traditional settings.
  • Companion Plants: Pairs well with plants that have lighter foliage or bright flowers, such as lavender, goldenrod, or spirea, to create a visually striking contrast in the garden.


Interested in a particular plant or have questions?
Please don't hesitate to contact us via this form or email, and we will reply as soon as possible.

Message sent! Thank you.

An error has occurred somewhere and it is not possible to submit the form. Please try again later or contact us via email.