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Ninebark Companion Plants: 15 Stunning Complimentary Options

Ninebark Companion Plants: 15 Stunning Complimentary Options

Ninebark, an ornamental plant known for its exceptional qualities, is indigenous to North America and is capable of thriving in Hardiness Zones 2-8.

The shrub is deciduous with a high tolerance to cold weather. With so many different varieties to choose from, you’ll find different sizes to accommodate all settings.

It can grow from 3 to 10 feet tall and spreads out 3 to 12 feet across.

Ninebark doesn’t disappoint when it comes to color varieties. The foliage can have different shades of gold, green, orange, burgundy, and purple.

The leaves also change color as they mature depending on the season. The clusters of white or pink button-like flowers appear in the late spring and early summer.

Ninebark is a beautiful plant and grows well with different companion plants.

1. Coneflowers

Purple coneflowers blooming in profusion.

These perennials are favorite ornamental plants in many gardens since they can tolerate heat and drought. Coneflowers don’t require special growing conditions and are easy to grow.

They bloom for months and attract pollinators and good bugs to the garden. Their blooms go well with ninebark.

However, you should choose a variety similar in color or in bold contrast to the ninebark variety in your garden.

  • Botanical name: Echinacea 
  • Average size: 2 – 5 feet tall and 1½ – 2 feet wide
  • Colors available: Purple, pink, yellow, orange, red
  • Lighting needs: Full sun or partial shade
  • Popular varieties: Echinacea purpurea, E. paradoxa, E. pallida

2. Phlox

Lovely pink blooms of Phlox paniculata.

A popular plant in many gardens, phlox has a long blooming season that starts in the early spring and sometimes lasts until the first frost.

Grow the smaller varieties in the front of the ninebark to create a stunning visual effect contrasting the phlox blooms with the colorful foliage of the ninebark.

  • Botanical name: Phlox spp.
  • Average size: 6 inches to 4 feet high
  • Colors available: Pink, red, yellow, white, blue
  • Lighting needs: Full sun
  • Popular varieties: Phlox paniculata, Woodland phlox, Drummond phlox, Spotted phlox

3. Dogwood Trees

A mature white dogwood tree in full bloom on a hillside.

Dogwood trees go well with the ninebark shrubs. They grow in the same Hardiness Zones, and together they become the focal point in the garden.

Choose the small dogwood varieties that don’t grow above 10 feet to create that dramatic effect. 

  • Botanical name: Cornus spp.
  • Average size: 10 – 30 feet tall
  • Colors available: White, pink
  • Lighting needs: Full sun, partial shade, full shade
  • Popular varieties: Cornus florida, Cornus kousa, Cornus alternifolia, Cornus mas

4. Azaleas

A mass of dark pink blooms on a large azalea bush.

Azaleas are flowering bushes that grow in well-draining and acidic soil. Where you plant them next to ninebarks depends on the size of both bushes.

I recommend growing a small azalea variety so that it will not overshadow the ninebark, especially since the azaleas have showier flowers.

  • Botanical name: Rhododendron spp.
  • Average size: 3 – 12 feet
  • Colors available: Cream, salmon, orange, pink, red
  • Lighting needs: Partial shade
  • Popular varieties: R. alabamense, R. albiflorum, R. arborescens, R. atlanticum

5. False Indigo

A blooming false indigo plant (Baptisia australis) in the garden.

The blue flowers of false indigo go well with the white blooms of ninebark. The gray-green foliage also complements the more colorful foliage of the ninebark shrubs.

You should be wary of false indigo though. Many parts of the plant are toxic for humans and animals alike. However, it repels insects, so it’s a mixed blessing.

  • Botanical name: Baptisia australis
  • Average size: 4 – 5 feet tall, 3 – 4 feet wide
  • Colors available: Blue, white
  • Lighting needs: Full sun, partial shade
  • Popular varieties: Purple Smoke, Carolina Moonlight, Twilite Prairieblues

6. Daylilies

A close look at several orange daylilies in full bloom.

As perennials, daylilies are easy to grow. They can tolerate drought, wet soil, high temperatures, and different light conditions.

You can use them on borders and edges or to punctuate the corners of a thriving ninebark.

The wide variety of colors gives you many options to paint your garden with the shades that reflect your mood.

  • Botanical name: Hemerocallis spp.
  • Average size: 8 inches to 5 feet tall
  • Colors available: Red, orange, yellow, purple, pink
  • Lighting needs: Full sun to partial shade
  • Popular varieties: Stella D’Oro, Purple D’Oro, Crimson Pirate

7. Russian Sage

Two Russian sage plants in full bloom.

This perennial is a late bloomer, but when the flowers open in the late summer, they explode in shades of purple and brighten the whole space.

Because of their height, you need to keep enough space between them and the short varieties of ninebark. In most cases, ninebark should serve as a backdrop.

  • Botanical name: Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • Average size: 4 feet tall, 3 feet wide
  • Colors available: Purple, blue, violet
  • Lighting needs: Full sun
  • Popular varieties: Filagran, Login, Little Spire

8. Hydrangeas

Various shades of blue and purple hydrangea flowers.

Since hydrangeas may tower over smaller ninebarks, you should plant them in the background.

Because of the hydrangeas upright growth habit, don’t let its shade fall on the ninebark and cut off the sunlight completely. It’s better to plant them to the north or east of the ninebark shrub.

  • Botanical name: Hydrangea spp.
  • Average size: 8 – 15 feet tall, 6 – 12 feet wide
  • Colors available: White, pink
  • Lighting needs: Full and partial sun
  • Popular varieties: Grandiflora, Limelight, Big Ben, Bobo

9. Spirea

A large bridal wreath spirea bush covered with white double flowers.

Spirea is another shrub that goes well with ninebarks. Spirea gives endless options in shape, size, and color thanks to the many cultivars and hybrids available in the market.

You can mix and match small varieties to make the ninebark bush the centerpiece in the garden, or you can grow spirea of similar size next to it.

  • Botanical name: Spiraea spp.
  • Average size: 1 – 20 feet
  • Colors available: A wide variety of colors
  • Lighting needs: Full sun
  • Popular varieties: Birchleaf spirea, Early spirea, Japanese spirea, Bridal wreath spirea

10. Roses

Two blooming roses in a shady location of the garden.

Roses are the darlings of any garden. Their colors, fragrance, and alluring blooms get your attention.

When pairing them with ninebarks, there’s always the risk the roses might overshadow your ninebark bushes, so allow enough space between the two, and don’t grow more than one rose bush in that spot.

  • Botanical name: Rosa spp.
  • Average size: 1 – 6 feet tall and the same in width
  • Colors available: Pink, red, rose, white, crimson, yellow
  • Lighting needs: Full sun
  • Popular varieties: Hybrid tea roses, Grandiflora, Polyantha, rambler roses

11. False Cypress

The golden foliage of false cypress in early spring.

Since the ninebark bush has colorful foliage, planting a false cypress in the background can transform your landscape.

You should be careful not to cut off the sunlight from the ninebark, so position the false cypress to the north or east of the bush.

  • Botanical name: Chamaecyparis spp.
  • Average size: 6 – 70 feet tall, 4 – 20 feet wide
  • Colors available: Golden green foliage
  • Lighting needs: Full to partial sun
  • Popular varieties: Filifera, Nana Gracilis, Baby Blue, Cripsii

12. Tansy

Yellow tansy flowers up close with blurred greenery in the background.

Tansy has aromatic foliage and produces cheerful yellow blooms through mid to late summer.

Tansy is considered invasive in North America, so check the local rules and regulations in your state regarding Tansy before planting it in your garden.

  • Botanical name: Tanacetum vulgare
  • Average size: 2 – 4 feet
  • Colors available: Yellow
  • Lighting needs: Full sun to partial shade
  • Popular varieties: Common Tansy, Tansy Ragwort

13. Lilacs

Several large lilac bushes blooming with purple and white flowers.

Although deciduous shrubs, lilacs have some redeeming qualities, especially their sweet fragrance.

Plant them as the backdrop for your ninebark, and make sure both bushes get enough sunlight during the growing season.

  • Botanical name: Syringa vulgaris
  • Average size: 8 – 15 feet tall, 6 – 12 feet wide
  • Colors available: Purple, white
  • Lighting needs: Full sun
  • Popular varieties: Wedgewood Blue, Yankee Doodle, Belle de Nancy, Madame Lemoine

14. Sedges

Several leatherleaf sedge plants growing in a garden.

Out of the 2,000 species of sedges that grow naturally worldwide, only a handful have ornamental values and actually bloom.

For the most part, you grow them as foliage plants that complement the ninebark bushes and accent their colors.

  • Botanical name: Carex spp.
  • Average size: 1 – 3 feet tall
  • Colors available: yellow-green, reddish brown
  • Lighting needs: Full sun to part shade
  • Popular varieties: Spark Plug Palm Sedge, Leatherleaf Sedge, Bowles’ Golden Tufted Sedge

15. Eupatorium

Purple blooms on spotted Joe pye weed being visited by multiple butterflies.

The clusters of white flowers of Eupatorium go well with the ninebark blooms. Their bright green leaves contrast with the vivid colors of the ninebark shrub in a dramatic tableau.

  • Botanical name: Eupatorium spp.
  • Average size: 4 – 6 feet tall, 3 – 4 feet wide
  • Colors available: White
  • Lighting needs: Full sun to partial shade
  • Popular varieties: Purple Joe Pye weed, Spotted Joe Pye weed, Eupatorium perfoliatum