Nandinas are not true bamboos but are accorded the common name due to their clump forming growth habit of multiple upright stems. They have been cultivated extensively around the globe for the attractive fern like foliage that turns rich shades of yellow, gold, orange and red during late autumn and winter. These shrubs are evergreen or semi-evergreen in the colder climates where plants may shed completely just before new spring growth emerges.

Tall upright growing Nandina domestcia cultivars form dense clumps 2 to 3 metres tall. White flowers are produced in summer followed by clusters of red or yellow berries. Dwarf forms (Nandina domestica ‘Pygmaea’) only grow to about 60 cm tall and form compact little bushes densely clothed in attractive foliage. These lesser sacred bamboos tend not to produce flowers and berries (yet to see any in 30 years).

Growing hints:

  • Grow in full sun to almost deep shade (very versatile)
  • Cold and frost resistant
  • Best in rich loamy soil but will survive in most soils
  • Spring and summer feeding with a high nitrogen fertiliser maintains condition
  • Mulch around the root zone to prevent drying out (use pine bark)
  • Prune when plants become too large or scraggly (best in spring)

Garden uses:

  • Use taller nandinas for hedges or screens
  • Dwarf nandinas are good en masse as a groundcover
  • All make attractive container specimens
  • Useful for growing in shaded or wooded parts
  • Ideal for narrow or restricted spaces
  • Foliage is used in flower arrangements