I Love Physocarpus ‘Center Glow’

Jun 11, 2016 | Love This!

Name:  Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Center Glow’ aka the center glow ninebark.

Type of Plant: A large, fountain shaped shrub that’s hardy in zones 2–8. Deciduous, drought tolerant and native to North America. Grows best in full sun but will tolerate as little as 4 hours as long as those 4 hours includes the noon hour when the sun is strongest.

Why I love this: I’m a huge fan of the purple and copper colored ninebark shrubs. They bring so much to the party from spring to fall. A graceful shape, pretty flowers in June, and foliage color all season.

 A Word to the Wise:  First of all, ‘Center Glow’ gets large. So this probably isn’t a foundation planting shrub, but one for a mixed shrub border or the back of a flower garden. This would even be a great component for a privacy planting as well, since ‘Center Glow’ gets at least 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

The only problem I’ve seen with Physocarpus is botrytis. If you see a weird, light colored covering over some leaves and flowers that seems to mummify the tissues, you’ve got botrytis. I’ve found that spraying with an organic fungicide such as Actinovate or Serenade early in the season and as the summer goes on is very helpful.

Know that at any point should this plant not be looking fantastic, you can prune it down to 5” tall (a renovation pruning) in the spring and it will rebound the first year and be fantastic from year 2 on.

See what a lovely, colorful shrub does as a background for a perennial garden.

See what a lovely, colorful shrub does as a background for a perennial garden. In this garden you see the blue-flowering Amsonia hubrichtii, a Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (yellow grass on right), the yellow Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’ (Chardonnay Pearls) on left, and assorted other perennials and biennials.


This shows 'Center Glow' just coming into bloom.

This shows ‘Center Glow’ just coming into bloom.




  1. Janet Sharp Kershaw

    Should this plant be in a sunny or shaded area? Please include in your discussion of this and all other plants.

    • CL Fornari

      How right you are, Janet! Thanks for pointing out this oversight – I’ll add that in right now. Full sun.

  2. virginia

    what is the correct way to prune this shrub.

    • CL Fornari

      Virginia – first of all, there is no way to prune these plants to make them narrower without taking away the fountain shape that makes them attractive. Most of the time the only pruning that should be done is removal of deadwood and any branches that are crossed and rubbing. Occasionally, especially if they have been miss-pruned in the past and don’t look attractive, you can do a renovation pruning by cutting the enter plant down to 4″ tall in the spring. They will regain their height and former size, but with fresh growth, in two years.

  3. Sarah Anderson

    Just planted this summer, we’ve been watering very regularly with a slow trickle for 30 minuets. The leavers are somewhat curling under.
    Could we have over watered

    • CL Fornari

      I have no idea where you live or what the temperatures are like there. Normally watering a newly placed plant deeply every five to seven days is enough. If you live in a dry climate or it hasn’t rained where you are you’re better off watering the entire area deeply with a soaker hose or sprinkler in that a trickle right next to the plant might water the rootball but not the ground around it. If the soil around the root ball is very dry, the water will get sucked away from the roots quickly defeating the watering you did give the plant. But if you were watering 30 minutes a day then yes, this plant might have been overwatered.

  4. Tami

    Is it a pollinator?

    • CL Fornari

      Well, no, Physocarpus isn’t a pollinator – those are the insects and animals that seek pollen and nectar from plants. I’m sure you meant to ask if this shrub has flowers that attract pollinators and the answer is yes. The ninebark flowers supply both pollen and nectar to a variety of bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators.

  5. Jane Dorval

    Thank you for all the great information and guidance!

  6. Carolyn

    Why has mine not bloomed. I live in Northern Michigan. I planted it 3 summers ago in partly sunny. Watered fairly regularly.

    • CL Fornari

      My guess is not enough sun. (Assuming you’re never cutting it back, right?) These need at least 5 hours of noon into AFTERNOON sun to do well.


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