evergreen sun to shade prune from base to keep from
becoming leggy low maintenance cream color flowers in late spring
red berries in fall attractive to birds xeriscape
Type Shrub, woody plant
Hardy range 6B to 9B
Height 6' to 10' / 1.80m to 3.00m
Spread 12" to 36" / 30cm to 90cm
Growth rate Average
Form Upright or erect
Exposure Partial shade or partial sun to full sun
Bloom Time Spring
The flowers are showy.
This plant tolerates some drought and some salt.
This plant will grow in dry soil.
Suitable soil is well-drained/loamy, sandy or clay.
The pH preference is an acidic to alkaline (less than 6.8 to more than
Leaf Color Green and purple
Fall Color Red
This plant has attractive foliage and attractive fall colors.
With bamboo-like stalks and delicate, fern-like foliage, Nandina is
much-prized for its oriental effect and distinctive appearance. Adding to
its appeal are large, erect panicles of creamy white flowers in spring
followed by decorative bright red berries in fall and winter. Berries are
eaten by a variety of birds and this can spread the plant to neighbors
yards. Nandina spreads slowly by underground stems, providing attractive
clumps for entryways, containers, or as specimen plantings in a ground
cover. They also add an accent to the front of a shrub border when planted
in groups or clumps. Plant on 2 to 3 foot centers for a mass planting,
farther for a more open effect.
Nandina in partial shade will exhibit richer-colored red fall foliage than
if planted in the sun. Foliage diseases will be less in
full sun. Although tolerant of drought once established, rich soil and
ample moisture will produce a lusher, better-looking plant. Plants survive
with neglect, although regular fertilization encourages growth and thicker
plants. Plants have been reported as invasive into selected natural areas
in Florida and other southern states.
Nandina is a low maintenance shrub, requiring only one pruning each year
to control plant height, if needed. The tallest canes should be trimmed to
the ground or to different heights in early spring to reduce the size.
This will provide for more foliage toward the ground and promote a denser
plant. Recent selections have produced several dwarf cultivars, and
although most of these do not flower and fruit, they do produce
vividly-colored fall foliage and can be used as a ground cover. Some are
nicer than others.
Dwarf cultivars available include: `Atropurpurea Nana' is a rather ugly,
reddish plant; `Compacta', purplish winter color, 4 feet tall;
`Firepower', red to maroon fall foliage, 2 feet tall, virus free which
gives it superior foliage; `Gulfstream', reddish-bronze fall foliage, 4
feet tall, upright habit, suckers from the base; `Harbor Dwarf', bronze
fall foliage, 1.5 to 2 feet tall; `Moonbay' and `Nana Purpurea', both are
rounded and spread, and they have red fall foliage and are 1.5 to 2.5 feet
tall; and `Woods Dwarf', red to maroon fall foliage, 1.5 feet tall. The
dwarf cultivar `Lowboy' flowers and produces red berries, reaches 3 feet
in height, and has red fall foliage. This plant is considered mostly
allergy free and causes little or no allergy problems in most people.
Planting and establishing shrubs
The most common cause of young plant failure is planting too deep. Plant
the root ball no deeper than it was in the nursery. In most instances, the
root flare zone (point where the top-most root in the root ball originates
from the trunk) should be located just above the landscape soil surface.
Sometimes plants come from the nursery with soil over the root flare. If
there is soil over this area, scrape it off. The planting hole should be
at least twice the width of the root ball, preferably wider. In all but
exceptional circumstances where the soil is very poor, there is no need to
incorporate anything into the backfill soil except the loosened soil that
came out of the planting hole. Never place ANY soil over the root ball. If
a row or grouping of plants is to be installed, excavating or loosening
the soil in the entire bed and incorporating organic matter enhances root
growth and establishment rate.
Weed suppression during establishment is essential. Apply a 3-inch thick
layer of mulch around the plant to help control weed growth. Keep it at
least 10 inches from the trunk. If you apply it over the root ball, apply
only a one or two inch layer. This allows rainwater and air to easily
enter the root ball and keeps the trunk dry. Placing mulch against the
trunk or applying too thick a layer above the root ball can kill the plant
by oxygen starvation, death of bark, stem and root diseases, prevention of
hardening off for winter, vole and other rodent damage to the trunk,
keeping soil too wet, or repelling water. Regular irrigation through the
first growing season after planting encourages rapid root growth, which is
essential for quick plant establishment.
Pests, Diseases and Damaging Agents
Diseases: Leaf spot diseases often cause the lower leaves to drop from the
plant in the humid regions of the nation. The disease appears to be most
severe on plants grown in partial shade where the foliage can remain wet.
Plants remain uniformly dense to the ground in the desert southwest. Some
of the dwarf cultivars can become infected with powdery mildew.