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If you are looking for a shrub that has lacy foliage; colorful fall foliage color, interesting flowers, autumn berries and is evergreen, take a good look at Nandina Domestica. Commonly called Heavenly Bamboo, this plant has just about everything a homeowner could ask for, all in one plant.
Nandina can be used in virtually any part of the landscape. It is especially useful in full or part sun, where the foliage color is superb. However, it will even grow in a shady part of the garden. Of course, the leaf color is not nearly as vibrant and it does not flower as well.
A versatile plant, it can be used by itself or in small group plantings for spot color. Groups of three to five plants are especially effective when combined with other evergreens that have different leaf textures. For example, the combination of heavenly bamboo with Viburnum davidii and low growing heather or Junipers or string Cypress is splendid for a sunny or semi-sunny spot.
Nandina is a very popular plant in Japanese gardens, because of its leaf texture and color. In the Japanese home garden, this plant will often be found near the front or back door, as they consider it a friendship plant.
If the plant can be used in the garden near night lights, it will cast a beautiful silhouette.
Probably the most outstanding characteristic of this plant is the attractive, lacy foliage, which resembles bamboo leaves. The new growth is often bronze to rose in color, becoming green with age. In the fall and winter, the growth takes on autumn leaf colors: red, orange, bronze and pink. The plant has added value in that it provides cut branches for use in floral arrangements all 12 months of the year.
As the plant matures, it’s not unusual for it to develop late summer and early-fall flowers that eventually may produce red berries. The flower clusters are quite large – 8 to 12 inches high – and can be dried for arrangements.
Unlike most plants that we call bamboo, Nandina is not a nuisance plant. Actually, it’s not even a bamboo at all, but a member of the barberry family. The stalks are not like bamboo, but the foliage is. One advantage of Nandina is that it does not send underground sprouts all over the garden as bamboo does. The stems emerge right from the base of the plants.
In most plantings, the plant remains quite compact. There are several varieties, but if needed, the taller stems can be pruned to lower the height of the plants. Pruning can be done at any time throughout the year. The cut stems are very popular to use in flower arranging and will last for several days.
Heavenly Bamboo is a relatively easy plant to grow in Pacific Northwest gardens. Its only requirement is that it be planted in well-drained soil. Prepare the soil by mixing generous amounts of organic-humus, like peat moss, compost or processed manure with your existing soil.
Container-grown plants can be planted at any time throughout the year. If there is a need to transplant an established plant, it is best done during the fall or winter months. When planting or transplanting be sure to set the root ball at the same level at which the plant was previously growing. A very light layer of bark mulch over the soil will help retain moisture and also help control weed growth.
Nandina will benefit from a yearly, light feeding of a Rhododendron or Evergreen type of fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer in late February or early June. Be sure to water in the fertilizer thoroughly after application, or it is apt to burn the roots and do more damage than good.
Below is a sampling of the nandina varieties you can find at the Great Big Greenhouse. Please note that availability may be limited, so please call us for pricing and availability information before coming out.
A compact version of the species which emerges pink, matures to green, but eventually turns purplish-pink to red in fall; no flowers and fruit; great for mass planting, borders, and foundation planting.
Grown for its vibrant red and green foliage; the evergreen leaves are narrower and finer in texture than the species; very upright, leggy and open, excellent in mass plantings for textural effect.
A colorful, open evergreen shrub which features bright red berries and interesting grass-like foliage which emerges tinted with deep red in spring; very upright and leggy, excellent in mass plantings for color and textural effect.
An extremely tight and compact version of the species which emerges reddish and retains hints of red in summer, but eventually turns fiery scarlet into fall; no flowers and fruit, but the long-season fall color is overwhelming.
This dwarf evergreen shrub is a fabulous groundcover that maintains its red color throughout the year; excellent in mass plantings for textural effect; can use in containers or as edging.
Amazing foliage throughout the season, from copper in spring to blue-green, red and gold during summer, then copper again in the fall; excellent in mass plantings for textural effect; seldom flowers in cooler climates.
A compact version of the species which emerges pink, matures to green, but eventually turns purplish-pink to red in fall; spring flowers but very little fruit; great for mass planting, borders, and foundation planting; suckers less than other varieties.
This improved variety has bright red new growth in the warmer months as well as the colder months; keeps its dense upright growth habit; excellent in mass plantings for textural effect; drought, cold, and humidity tolerant, and non-invasive.