Physocarpus opulifolius “Black and Gold Mix” (Ninebark) [15 Seeds]


Germination Information: I recommend these seeds for experienced seed-starters only, because they may require some patience. The easiest approach is to sow the seeds (just barely covered with growing medium) in fall to mid winter, setting their pot outdoors in a spot protected from mice so they can get a chilling period and then germinate when conditions are right in spring.

If you sow after January, set the pot in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for about 3 months before moving it to a warm, bright place for germination. (Remove the bag if the pot will be exposed to any direct sun.)

It is possible that these seeds could germinate well if you start them first in warm, bright conditions. But if you try that and no seedlings appear in 2 to 3 weeks, then try the refrigerator-chilling approach above.

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Native to most of the eastern half of North America, ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a mounded, deciduous shrub that reaches 6 to 10 feet tall. The species offers eye-catching features through much of the year: clusters of white flowers in late spring to early summer, showy red seedpods in summer, fall foliage color in shades of yellow to red, and exfoliating (peeling) bark on the stems for winter.

You don’t often see the straight species for sale, but cultivars with colorful foliage are widely available. In my garden, I have yellow-leaved ‘Dart’s Gold’ and near-black Diabolo (‘Monlo’), as well as a number of self-sown seedlings from them. Most of the seedlings have the foliage color of the parent plant, but some of the seedlings are intermediate in color, as shown in the second photo: golden to orangey shoot tips with darker older foliage. These seeds are about an even mix from golden- and dark-leaved plants, but there’s no guarantee as to the exact colors you will get. If you want a specific foliage color and an immediate presence in your garden, you are best off buying a plant. But if you have lots of space and enjoy experimenting, these seeds are likely to produce some interesting results and are worth a try. Full sun to partial shade. Zones 2 to 8.

Collected in September 2020. At least 15 seeds.


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