Heavenly Bamboo, or Nandina is a beautiful landscape shrub with large, lacy leaves that resemble bamboo. Except the leaves on this beautiful evergreen shrub put on a color display almost all year around. New growth is reddish pink which eventually turns to pastel green. In fall, the leaves change to bronze and can even turn bright red in winter.
Nandina can be grown as a low screen in the landscape. It is a slow grower, but well worth the wait. The plant sends out tall stalks from the base on which the delicate leaves unfurl. It will eventually reach heights of 6 to 8 feet tall. Single plants usually measure two feet across, but they slowly form clumps, spreading by underground runners. But Nandina is not considered invasive.
Heavenly Bamboo plants are fairly drought tolerant and can survive on little extra water once they are established in the ground. They can also tolerate regular garden watering too. Another valuable trait is that Nandina can be grown from sun to shade. In areas with very hot summers it will grow best with part shade.
In spring or early summer Nandina blooms with creamy white flowers at the ends of their branches. The flowers bracts measure from 6 to 12 inches, with large whitish flowers with bright yellow centers. If the flowers are pollinated they will produce clusters of bright red berries in the fall.
Heavenly Bamboo isn’t a true bamboo at all, but is a member of the barberry family. It is native to China and Japan. It grows best in USDA Zones 7 – 9 or Sunset Zones 4 – 24 with stem damage occurring about 5 degrees. When grown in alkaline soils, Nandina can develop chlorosis, or iron deficiency. This disease shows up as light green or white veins and pale, sickly leaves but it can be easily cured with an iron mixture from your local nursery.
In pots Nandina shrubs require large, deep containers. Try starting them in 12-16 inch pots or larger. Nandina would make a striking focal point on a patio, with the ever-changing leaf color giving it the appearance of an exotic bronze sculpture. Or grow one into a difficult-to-plant dry shade corner of the garden. Either way you are sure to be enchanted by the beauty of Heavenly Bamboo. Good luck and happy gardening!