Physocarpus opulifolius Summer Wine&#0153

Physocarpus opulifolius Summer Wine&#0153

While enjoying a glass of wine in Becky Robert‘s garden one evening last week, I spotted a small shrub with dark maroon, almost purple, leaves. I was excited to realize upon further inspection that it was a newer cultivar of one of my favorite native shrubs, Physocarpus opulifolius Summer Wine&#0153. This compact shrub is a hybrid between Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Nana’ and Diablo&#0153 and so has a denser habit than the straight species along with deep, cleanly cut, wine-colored foliage.

Here at the Scott Arboretum, we are growing this shrub in the Terry Shane Teaching garden where its foliage provides a wonderful contrast of colors with the chartreuse Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ that is planted underneath it. Physocarpus is in the Rosaceae family which includes lots of other wonderful shrubs other than the most popular genus, Rosa. These include Spiraea, Chaenomeles, Cotoneaster, Photinia, and Kerria. But Physocarpus is definitely my favorite, and this cultivar, which grows about 4 to 6 feet wide and tall, blooms in mid-summer with pinkish-white flowers that are small and button like, is hardy to zone 2 and is also drought tolerant. It also produces beautiful fruit in the fall. This shrub needs full sun to part shade to thrive. Use it as a bold accent to your perennial or shrub border.

I was also very excited to learn that this plant will be included in the upcoming Horticulture Seminar titled From Aronia to Sorbaria: Shrubs of Rosaceae at the Scott Arboretum. Join Andrew Bunting on August 22 for this in-depth look at rosaceous shrubs and how to use them in the landscape.

Liz Haegele
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