Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’

purple-leaf ninebark

  • © Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

The dark purple foliage of this ninebark is spectacular in the mixed border. Its loose habit is the perfect host for summer-flowering clematis, for the clematis flowers shine against the dark foliage of 'Diabolo'. Grow it with shrub roses and perennials, such as Thalictrum delavayi 'Hewitt's Double', Penstemon 'Blackbird' a and the glaucous-leaved Parahebe perfoliata. It combines well with ornamental grasses, such as Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' and Stipa gigantea. For dramatic effect add golden- or silver- variegated plants like its base: Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea 'Variegata' or Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'. Let chartreuse Geranium 'Ann Folkard' scramble up through ninebark's purple leaves. This cultivar was selected in Japan and introduced through England by Heronswood and Monrovia nurseries.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 8 ft. 0 in. (2.44 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 8 ft. 0 in. (2.44 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 12 ft. 0 in. (3.66 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 12 ft. 0 in. (3.66 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 9

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light to open shade

Water Requirements: occasional watering

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: orange, silver, gold

Great Color Partners: dark green, bronze

Culture Notes
This useful shrub grows well in moist to well-drained soil, but it will tolerate a wide range of conditions including sandy sites and clay. Plant it in full sun to open or light shade. The more sun it receives the richer the foliage. Once established it will only need occasional watering during dry weather. Little pruning is needed. The older twiggy canes can be removed, leaving the young whips which flower the best and grow robustly.
Geek Notes
We originally GPPd this as 'Diablo' but the 2004-2005 Plant Finder lists it as 'Diabolo'. PBR added Nov 2005. clj