Position: Full sun with a sheltered position
Soil: Moist, well drained
Flowering period: Mid Summer
Eventual Height: 1.5m
Eventual Spread: 1.2m
Hardiness: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
Nandina domestica is an evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub with upright shoots. Its leaves are lance shaped, pinnate to tri-pinnate and appear red/ pink in spring, becoming dark green. Its leaves turn red/ purple in autumn before they fall. Its white flowers are star shaped with long yellow anthers and appear in conical panicles. These are followed by spherical fruits which are up to 1cm in diameter, these persist on the plant through the winter months.
Nandina domestica commonly known as Nandina, Heavenly Bamboo or Sacred Bamboo, is native to eastern Asia, from Japan to the Himalayas. It was introduced to England by William Kerr, the plant hunter who also discovered the Euonymus japonicus. He sent it to London in his first consignment from Canton, in 1804. It was originally grown in greenhouses as the horticulturalists were unsure of its hardiness. It is the only species within this genus.
The etymological root of the binomial name Nandina is derived from an old Japanese name for the plant ‘nandin’. Domestica is derived from the Latin domesticus ’domestic’, referring to the plants various uses within Japanese households. Seed dispersal by birds has led to it being very invasive in warm climates (particularly in America), where it may spread and dominate ecosystems. It is much more controllable in moderate climates such as the UK.
Nandina domestica is useful to the landscape architect for its vigorous growth rate. It will quickly establish itself in both full sun and partial shade. This shrub achieve a reasonable height and will form a good visual screen. As dear and rabbits dislike this plant it can be used freely when these animals are present. Care should be taken when locating this plant as consumption is mildly toxic, therefore consideration should be given to young children and pets.
Ecologically, Nandina domestica will attract birds in autumn and winter for its red berries. The birds then disperse the seeds as they are not digested.
The Royal Horticultural Society have given Nandina domestica their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.
Nandina domestica prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.
Nandina domestica requires little maintenance. Dead material may be removed in early spring and if required a third of the living plant can be removed without affecting growth in that season.