Heavenly bamboo, Nandina, bears a strong resemblance to real bamboo but isn’t realted. It’s actually a member of the Berberis family, Berberidaceae. Origins aside, it’s an elegant evergreen shrub with a compact habit, making it an excellent choice for smaller gardens in the UK. It has flowers, evergreen foliage, autumn colouring and berries, all on one plant. Good for borders or containers, there are different cultivars to choose from that offer a variety of leaf colour.
Where to plant nandina
Nandina grows best in moist but well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. Choose a sheltered spot, with some sun to encourage good colouring up of the foliage.
How to plant nandina
Dig a generous hole adding in well-rotted compost and a handful of grit for added drainage as nandina does not do well in cold, wet winter conditions.
How to propagate nandina
The most reliable method of propagating nandina is from cuttings. Take semi-ripe cuttings in summer and keep them in a heated propagator until they root. Protect from winter weather.
It’s also possible to propagate nandina from runners that have formed roots – these can be cut and replanted.
Nandina: problem solving
Nandina is generally untroubled by pest and diseases. The berries can be mildly toxic for pet animals, but birds love them.
How to care for nandina
Nandina is a slow growing shrub and doesn’t need too much special care. It rarely needs pruning, bit it’s worth giving it a general trim in spring to maintain its shape and form.
Follow our step-by-step guide to pruning nandina.
Great nandina varieties to grow
- Nandina domestica – the species plant is an elegant, upright, evergreen shrub with reddish foliage that is very similar to bamboo leaves. However, unlike bamboo it grows slowly and doesn’t spread and rarely reaches its maximum proportions of 2m in the UK. It has white flowers followed by red berries, typical of the species
- Nandina domestica ‘Fire Power’ – a is much more compact with brilliant red and bronze foliage in autumn. It is a good shrub for a small garden or a container
- Nandina domestica ‘Obsessed’ – the foliage of this cultivar is a fiery red at first, turning green through the summer and red again in autumn. Typical white flowers appear in summer
- Nandina domestica ‘Magical Lemon and Lime’ – the new foliage starts off yellowy green, turning deeper lime green as it matures. Grow in sun to maintain this zingy coloured foliage, as in shade it will turn darker
- Nandina domestica ‘Gulf Stream’ – the new foliage is bronze coloured and turns green through the summer, reddening again in the autumn and winter