Center Glow NinebarkPhysocarpus opulifolius 'Center Glow' (PP# 16,894)
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Physocarpus opulifolius 'Center Glow' (PP# 16,894)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Center Glow Ninebark is a broad, arching deciduous shrub with dark red leaves that hold their color through all three seasons. New leaves have an attractive glowing center of golden yellow, before the leaf turns entirely red. In late spring pinkish-white flowers add brightness for several weeks, and in fall the curious inflated seed pods turn bright red, lasting into the winter months. Grow this plant for a splash of rich color that will never fade or darken, and use it for accents, shrub beds, hedges and on banks and slopes. Mix it with golden-leaf plants for a stunning color combination.
Grow the Center Glow Ninebark in full sun for the best leaf colors. This tough plant thrives in all well-drained soils, including gravels and sands, and in tough urban soils too. It is drought resistant and reliable, growing vigorously and well anywhere from zone 3. It does not grow so well in the hottest parts of the south-east. It has no pests or diseases, and older plants can be pruned in spring to invigorate and renew them – no other work is needed.
Red leaves are always a great way to bring color to your garden for months. There is something very attractive about red-leaf bushes, and to have that effect on an incredibly tough and easy bush, all you need is the Center Glow Ninebark. Using colored foliage is much easier than looking for blooms, because most plants only bloom for a couple of weeks, while colored leaves are with you from spring to fall. They make it very easy to avoid a dull, green garden, but they don’t add yard work to your busy agenda. Ninebarks are very easy shrubs to grow, and with all the newer forms with colored leaves you can do a lot just with this one plant. We especially like the Center Glow Ninebark for the golden heart each leaf has when it is young. That, and the persistence of the red leaves, which don’t turn dull and brownish in summer, makes this one of the brightest yet easiest shrubs you can plant.
The Center Glow Ninebark is a rounded shrub that grows 6 to 8 feet tall and just as wide. With trimming it can be kept a little smaller, but just one plant will have a real impact in your beds. This deciduous shrub has many arching branches rising from its center, and their reddish-brown, peeling bark is attractive in all seasons. In spring the new leaves develop all along the stems, in clusters. These are about 4 inches long, and divided into 3 large lobes, a little like a maple-leaf. When they first emerge they are greenish-gold, but quickly, starting at the outer edges of the leaves, they turn dark red. As the red color floods across the leaf a golden-yellow heart remains at the base of the leaf – the ‘center glow’ of its name. As they mature the leaves become completely red. New leaves that develop later continue to have golden centers, so the ends of the branches show golden touches for most of the season. Many red-leaf ninebarks fade to brownish tones in summer, but this one doesn’t, keeping its warm red color all summer. This makes it one of the most colorful summer bushes you can grow.
In late spring on older branches clusters of pinkish-white flowers develop. These are small, but they are in clusters of many flowers, about 2 inches in diameter, and their profusion creates an attractive 3-week highlight in the growing season of this plant. After flowering, clusters of small, inflated seed pods develop, which are most noticeable in fall, when they turn reddish, lasting after the leaves have fallen.
This versatile shrub can be used anywhere in your garden. With its attractive arching form, it looks great on a lawn. Grow it at the back of smaller beds, or in the middle of larger ones, to fill spaces with color and interest. Plant a single plant, or for groups and rows space plants 4 or 5 feet apart. If you have a wooded area, this plant can be grown around the edges, or scattered in sunny clearings. Grow it around your home, in among evergreens. It will add interest, and the color looks great against green foliage. Mix it with shrubs with golden leaves too – their light color will really highlight the rich dark red of the Center Glow Ninebark.
This hardy shrub enjoys cooler climates. It grows without any winter damage in zone 3, and it thrives in all cooler zones – a real garden basic. It will grow in warmer areas too, but it can struggle in the heat and humidity of the south-east, where there are many other choices available.
Grow the Center Glow Ninebark in full sun for the richest foliage coloring. Too much shade will turn it more greenish, and the growth will be less dense. This tough plant will grow just about anywhere, in all kinds of soils. It is very drought resistant, and a great choice for dry, sandy soil in the sun. It doesn’t like places that are always wet, but otherwise you don’t have to worry about your soil – plant with confidence anywhere.
The Center Glow Ninebark is extremely easy to grow, and it needs no special care. It has no significant pests or diseases and it asks for nothing. Some people trim it, and it can certainly be clipped into a more compact shape. However, left alone it will take on an attractive arching form, which gives it more of a specimen quality. Once it is older you can remove some of the very oldest branches each spring, before the new growth appears. Cut them out at ground level, opening the crowded branches and making spaces for new growth to develop and rejuvenate your bush.
The Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius, is a native shrub, growing wild in the eastern states, from New York to Florida. It has spread as we spread across the country, and today it can be found growing almost everywhere, and in Canada as well. It grows mostly in gravelly soils, near rivers and on their banks.
Harold Pellett was a professor at the University of Minnesota, and he founded the Landscape Plant Development Center at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with the goal of developing top-quality cold-hardy landscape plants. In 2001 he crossed two varieties of ninebark, ‘Dart’s Gold’ and Diablo (`monlo`). Among the seedlings he found one with a unique leaf pattern, and after extensive testing he named it ‘Center Glow’. It was patented in 2006.
This plant cannot be grown from seed, so our plants are grown from stem pieces under license, to ensure they are identical to that unique original plant. We think this is one of the very best ninebarks available, and these tough plants always sell out fast. Don’t hesitate to make your garden more colorful and less work – order now, while we still have this great plant available.