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First Editions Little Devil Ninebark

One of the greatest attributes of Little Devil is that is attains a height and spread of 3-4’ compared to Common Ninebark that grows from 6-10’.
May 2011 Plant of the Month
First Editions® Little Devil™ Ninebark
By Vickie Pondell, Bailey Nurseries Inc.

Ninebarks, native to eastern and central North America, are remarkably durable. In Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, Dr. Michael Dirr writes, “The species is adaptable to all conditions probably even nuclear attacks, and once established, requires a bulldozer for removal.” This statement accurately describes the large, easy to grow ninebarks.

First Editions® Little Devil™ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolis ‘Donna May’) is an innovative 2011 introduction that possesses a compact habit and is hardy like the species. This cross with Diabolo® and Dwarf Ninebark in the parentage was bred by Dr. David Zlesak, a professor of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. One of the greatest attributes of Little Devil is that is attains a height and spread of 3-4’ compared to Common Ninebark that grows from 6-10’. The compact size requires little to no pruning and lends itself to be utilized as a specimen plant or a hedge. Little Devil is especially advantageous for smaller gardens and close spaces in the landscape.

Not only is the habit of Little Devil petite, so are the lobed leaves. The foliage is a bright, glossy burgundy hue, and the stems are red. The dark vegetation emphasizes the light pinkish white flowers that emerge in the spring and attract butterflies. Little Devil’s color flourishes in full sun and contrasts well with green and golden varieties. The plant may be pruned to display the exfoliating bark that is pronounced during the winter.

Little Devil is able to grow in a wide range of conditions just like Common Ninebark. It is hardy in zones 3-7 and grows in varying soils. Once established, the deep root system allows this variety to be drought tolerant. This tough plant does not need to be in a protected location. Little Devil is also virtually free from pest and disease issues.

Little Devil is attracting positive reviews throughout the nursery industry. In late January, it won Best New Plant Introduction for 2011 at the ANLA Garden Idol live event. Little Devil’s compact habit, attractive foliage, hardiness, and low maintenance qualities make it a new star for the garden.