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How to Prune Common Ninebark

By Melody Lee ; Updated September 21, 2017

Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) has cinnamon-colored flaky bark that peels off in strips. Some people claim nine strips are around each stem and that is how the shrub got its common name. Clusters of white to off-white flowers bloom in early summer, followed by pinkish- to peach-colored berries in the fall. The leaves turn shades of bronze and yellow in the fall. Common Ninebark has a rounded arching form. It tends to get leggy, so regular pruning is needed to maintain its shape.

Use hand pruners and lopping shears to prune Common Ninebark immediately after it blooms. This may decrease the amount of berries in the fall but will not interfere with the next year’s blooms. Decide how much you want to remove from the shrub.

Use lopping shears for branches larger than 1-½ inches and hand pruners for smaller branches and stems when pruning Common Ninebark.

Remove suckers at ground level and cut waterspouts back to main branches with hand pruners. Use lopping shears to prune out diseased, damaged or dead stems and branches.

Remove branches that are deformed, twisted or crossed over other branches with lopping shears. Cut back to the main branch, the trunk or the ground.

Trim stems that ruin the shape of the shrub. Cut at a 30-degree angle about ¼ inch above a bud that faces outward. Remember to use the pruning shears for smaller, thinner branches and the lopping shears for larger, thicker branches.


Things You Will Need

  • Lopping shears
  • Hand pruners


  • Common Ninebarks may have few or no blooms if pruned after mid-August.
  • Some Common Ninebarks may not need to be pruned every year.

About the Author


Melody Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 30 years of gardening experience. She currently works as a writer and copy editor. Her previous jobs include reporter, photographer and editor for a weekly newspaper.