Nandinas - Which Variety Should I Buy?

missmary(6b)July 18, 2011

I know nandinas - but I don't know by name the various kinds available. I generally know there are shorter, dwarf ones, and taller ones. That's about it. (And - oh yeah - I think I know that they are more complicated to prune correctly than most shrubs.

I'm looking to plant Nandinas in a corner niche of my yard, up next to the house. I want to put nandinas there because of the angle and view from the sunroom windows that overlook that particular corner. I like their leaf color in warmer seasons, and their berries in winter.

I'm thinking of a variety I've seen that grow rather straight up and tall to about 6 or so feet, but I don't know what their name is. Red leaves when they are new, and berries in the winter. What kind should I be looking for?

I live in Central MD.



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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

You are describing Nandina domestica...the straight plant, not a cultivar. NC State has a pretty good cultivar list, I've linked it below. You should be able to find the plain old Nandina domestica at any garden center.

Here is a link that might be useful: NC State Nandina cultivar list

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 9:04AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Get the kind you want to look at until the end of time. Once it's there, it can't be killed.

As far as pruning, you can't make a mistake since you can't kill this plant. If it gets too tall, cut it off at the ground and new shoots will fill in quickly. I usually cut down the tallest stems in the spring. This "shrub" doesn't grow from a single trunk. It makes many stems with foliage at the top. Each one gradually gets taller until it reaches max height. Individual stems tend to look "naked" at the bottom after a couple years.

I have never seen any birds eating the berries, but they are there (and red all winter) to look at.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 2:34PM
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I have been disturbed to find my tall- type nandinas spreading by runners and seed. It seems like the dwarfs do not-- Harbour Dwarf and Belle so far have not reproduced though they have berries I have Plum Passion taking over and I despair of how to tackle it. I suppose I should have known,but just grew up with this staple of southern gardens, loving their toughness and form without really using it as a gardener until the past decade, and now I am scared off and have crossed it off my list.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 2:58PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

frankie, if you want to kill the entire nandina, cut all the stems at ground level and immediately paint with brush killer concentrate. (For example, Ortho Max Poison Ivy & Tough Brush Killer, which is sold at Home Depot.)

That's a tactic I've used with a number of things (mostly unwanted young trees); sometimes it works the first time, and sometimes it doesn't. My nandinas died the first time.

If you're only trying to kill certain stems of the nandina, don't try this: I suspect the entire nandina would die.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 3:32PM
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frankie, we are about to pull out about 50 linear feet of dwarf nandinas that have invaded the front beds over a period of two or three years.

The shrubs were fine as long as someone was keeping a very close eye on them. Our gardener got busy with some other jobs and didn't keep up with the pruning and sucker growth and the end result is that we're now removing them all. So, I would say that it is not the variety of nandina that determines invasive spread, but the degree of watchfulness---e.g. lack of it--- by whoever is taking care of them.

Any suggestions for low, mounding shrub would be most welcome, btw... I am in central Georgia and would like something flowering or with berries. Considering a dwarf Indian Hawthorne but open to ideas. Thanks--

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 11:01PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

kswl--are deer an issue in your area? Because deer are quite fond of Raphiolepis indica (Indian hawthorn). At least--they find it tasty in NC. Just something to think about!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:52AM
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will Nandinas grow in illinois zone 5

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Probably not. It might survive if you are willing to try to protect it with a rose cone and some deep mulch and you plant it in your most protected microclimate. I tried outdoors here in a marginal 6A climate without success. They do overwinter well in my unheated greenhouse, right up against the brick wall which absorbs the sunshine in the winter when we get it. I don't know if it is because it's slightly warmer in there, or because the plant is exposed to any wind chill in there.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 12:44PM
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To keep them from spreading, treat them like bamboo. Plant them inside a barricade that is at 12-24 inches deep.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 9:52AM
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Never barricaded a nandina in my life!! While they will sucker slightly or produce new canes from the root crown, they do not do so aggressively and never very far away from the base of the plant. And these are far easier to remove than new bamboo culms!! Where nandina is invasive, it is spread by birds eating the berries.

Nandina has the common name of heavenly or sacred bamboo but it shares nothing with bamboo other than the narrow, lacy appearance of the foliage.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 1:53PM
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I think it's an awesome plant and I wish it was fully hardy here. I've got 2 in my greenhouse and they do fine, worst they've suffered is some brown leaf margins on the old growth.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 4:19PM
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alygal(PacNW z7)

I made a hedge of Nandina "Gulf Stream" and love it. It's about 4 feet high and quite thick but it has not spread or invaded out of its area.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 9:24PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I have seen heavenly bamboo suckering to form patches in this area. I have also seen it frozen down by colder winters, USDA 5 seems highly unsuitable. I'd go with a compact form, not as weird and graceless as the fully dwarf hummocks and blobs but not so tall and flopping as 'Moyer's Red' etc.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 4:59PM
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