Ninebark Physocarpus opulifolius 'Chameleon'

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
ninebark 'Chameleon'


The Ninebark 'Chameleon' is a visually striking shrub known for its vibrant foliage, which displays a rich tapestry of colors throughout the growing season. The leaves of this plant are its most remarkable feature, changing hues with the passage of time. Initially, the foliage emerges with a splash of bright, lime green that boldly stands out in the garden. As they mature, the leaves transform, showcasing a medley of colors including shades of yellow, gold, and even soft whispers of orange. Each leaf is uniquely variegated, giving the appearance of a chameleon's skin, where no two leaves are exactly alike. The leaves are typically rounded with a slightly serrated edge that adds a delicate texture to the overall presentation of the plant. During the flowering season, the Ninebark 'Chameleon' produces clusters of small, white to soft pink flowers that add a gentle contrast to its colorful leaves. The flowers are appealing to pollinators, like bees, which can often be seen buzzing around the plant. As the growing season progresses towards fall, the foliage can deepen, presenting hues of purple and bronze before the leaves drop. This seasonal color shift adds to the dynamic nature of the 'Chameleon' and its ornamental appeal. The plant also has peeling bark on its mature stems, providing an interesting visual and textural element, especially during the winter months when the branches are bare, revealing the bark's reddish to brown tones beneath the exfoliating layers. This characteristic bark and the plant's ability to change colors, much like its namesake, make it a sought-after choice for gardeners looking to add a changing backdrop or a standout specimen to their landscape.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Chameleon Ninebark, Chameleon Eastern Ninebark

    • Common names

      Physocarpus opulifolius 'Chameleon'.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Ninebark, which is the most common common name for Physocarpus opulifolius 'Chameleon', is not generally considered to be toxic to humans. There are no widely reported symptoms of poisoning from ingesting any part of this plant. However, it's always a good idea to avoid eating plants not designated as food items as they can cause gastrointestinal discomfort or allergic reactions in some individuals.

    • To pets

      Ninebark is also not generally considered to be toxic to pets. Similar to humans, there are no widely reported symptoms of poisoning in pets from ingesting any part of this plant. Though it is not deemed poisonous, it is always prudent to monitor pets and prevent them from consuming non-food plants, as they might cause stomach upset or other digestive issues.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 meters)

    • Spread

      5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal: Adds vibrant color and texture to gardens with its unique variegated foliage that changes color through the seasons.
    • Easy Maintenance: Known for its hardiness and low maintenance requirements, making it suitable for various landscapes.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it has good resistance to drought, reducing the need for frequent watering.
    • Pest and Disease Resistance: Exhibits resistance to many common garden pests and diseases, minimizing the need for chemical treatments.
    • Wildlife Attraction: Attracts beneficial insects, birds, and pollinators, contributing to local biodiversity.
    • Soil Adaptability: Adapts to a wide range of soil types, although it prefers well-drained soils.
    • Privacy and Screening: Can be used as a natural privacy screen or hedge due to its dense growth habit.
    • Erosion Control: The root system helps stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes or in areas with loose soil.
    • Seasonal Interest: Offers year-round interest with flowers in spring, followed by seed clusters and colorful leaves.
    • Adaptability: Can thrive in a range of climates, from USDA zones 3 to 7, making it suitable for many gardens.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Physocarpus opulifolius 'Chameleon', commonly known as Ninebark, can be used in floral arrangements for its interesting foliage and peeling bark texture.
    • Ninebark branches can be used as a natural framework for climbing plants in the garden due to their sturdy structure.
    • In crafting, Ninebark branches with peeling bark can be incorporated into natural wreaths or as rustic décor elements.
    • The wood of Ninebark, which is strong and hard, may be used in small woodworking projects, such as tool handles or carved ornaments.
    • Ninebark's dense growth habit makes it suitable for creating garden mazes or living fences for ensuring privacy.
    • Its colorful leaves can be used in pressed leaf art projects for their varied hues and interesting textures.
    • Ninebark can be planted on slopes for erosion control due to its extensive root system that helps to stabilize the soil.
    • The peeling bark from Ninebark can be gathered and used in terrariums or as mulch to enhance the soil's moisture retention.
    • Ninebark may be utilized as a background plant in photography to provide a natural and textured green backdrop.
    • In outdoor education, Ninebark's variety of colors and adaptability can serve as a model to teach about plant survival in different environmental conditions.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Ninebark is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Ninebark is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Adaptability: The Physocarpus opulifolius 'Chameleon', commonly known as Ninebark, exhibits a changing foliage color, symbolizing the ability to adapt to various conditions.
    • Resilience: Ninebark is known for its hardiness and ability to withstand harsh conditions, making it a symbol of resilience and endurance.
    • Transformation: The 'Chameleon' variety, in particular, with its shifting hues, represents transformation and change.
    • Protection: With its dense growth and thick bark, Ninebark was traditionally thought to offer protection, thus symbolizing safety and shelter.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Not needed
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Ninebark 'Chameleon' prefers consistent moisture but is also drought-tolerant once established. During the first growing season, water the plant deeply once a week, providing about 1.5 gallons per watering to ensure a strong root system. Once established, watering can be reduced, and the shrub may only need supplemental watering during extended dry periods. Adjust watering frequency based on soil conditions and climate; well-drained soil and hot weather will necessitate more frequent watering. It is generally better to water deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth, rather than shallow and frequent watering.

  • sunLight

    Ninebark 'Chameleon' thrives in full sun to partial shade. The ideal spot for this shrub is in a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily, which will ensure the best foliage color and flowering. However, it can also tolerate some shade, especially in hotter climates where some afternoon shade can prevent scorching. Avoid deep shade as it will lead to sparse growth and poor coloration.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Ninebark 'Chameleon' is a hardy shrub that can withstand a wide range of temperatures. It can survive in temperatures as low as -30°F and as high as 100°F, making it suitable for many climates. The ideal temperature range for promoting healthy growth is between 60°F and 70°F. Extreme temperatures beyond these ranges may stress the plant but typically won’t be fatal as ninebark is quite adaptable.

  • scissorsPruning

    Ninebark 'Chameleon' benefits from pruning to maintain its shape and promote a robust structure. Prune the plant in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Remove any damaged, diseased, or dead branches as well as any that are crossing or crowded to improve air circulation. Pruning can also rejuvenate older plants if they become woody and overgrown; in this case, prune up to one-third of the oldest stems down to the ground to encourage new growth.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Ninebark, including the 'Chameleon' cultivar, thrives best in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. A good soil mix for Ninebark consists of garden soil, compost, and peat or leaf mold to enhance drainage and fertility. The ideal soil pH for 'Chameleon' Ninebark should range between 5.5 and 7.0 to ensure proper nutrient availability.

  • plantRepotting

    Ninebark, such as the 'Chameleon' variety, typically do not require frequent repotting as they are grown in outdoor landscapes. However, if planted in containers, repotting every 2-3 years or when the plant becomes root-bound is adequate for maintaining its health and vigor.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Ninebark 'Chameleon' is tolerant of a wide range of humidity levels and does not require specific humidity conditions for optimal growth. It can grow well in the ambient outdoor humidity commonly found in its growing zones.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure bright light, ample space, and good air flow.

    • Outdoor

      Choose sunny spot, mulch well, water deeply.

    • Hardiness zone

      2-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The Ninebark 'Chameleon' begins its life as a seed that germinates in spring when soil temperatures warm and sufficient moisture is available. The seedling stage involves the emergence of the first leaves and roots as it establishes itself. As it progresses into the vegetative stage, the plant matures by developing a woody stem, extensive root system, and characteristic foliage that changes color from pink to green to yellow. During the reproductive stage, typically in early summer, Ninebark 'Chameleon' produces clusters of small, white to pinkish flowers which are attractive to pollinators. After the flowering stage, the plant develops small, red to purple fruits known as follicles, which eventually dry and split open to release seeds for dispersal. The plant then enters a period of dormancy during the colder months, which is a survival strategy to withstand winter conditions until the next growing season begins.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The Ninebark 'Chameleon' is most commonly propagated by softwood cuttings in late spring or early summer. This is when the plant’s new growth is mature enough but not yet fully hardened. For successful propagation, it is critical to take cuttings from healthy plants using a sharp, sterilized cutting tool. Cuttings should be about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) long with several leaves left at the top. The bottom leaves are removed, and the cut end is often dipped in rooting hormone to encourage root development. The cutting is then placed in a well-draining medium, such as a mix of perlite and peat. It's essential to maintain high humidity and consistent moisture around the cuttings until roots are well established, which could take several weeks.