Nandina...any drawbacks?

texas_grrl(8)March 27, 2008

I am considering planting a Nandina shrub. Are there any drawbacks to this shrub?

Note: I have clay-rich, alkaline soil.

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The species form is considered invasive in parts of the southeast, including Texas. There are several cultivars that don't set fruit. You could look for those if you want one. 'Gulf Stream' is one.

What is it that you like about Nandina? Maybe some substitutes could be suggested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Invasive species plants for Texas

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 2:06PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Out here many of them now have a noticeable mildew problem which is a turnoff. Our summers are quite droughty, perhaps in a climate with frequent summer downpours this is not seen as much as here, if at all. Spottiness is also prevalent, probably due to too much dampness at the root - soils on developed properties are often heavy here, derived from glacial till.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 10:43AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I am crazy about Nandinas. But, there are no perfect plants. (NONE) The species suckers like mad for several feet around the mother plant. If you put it in a bed with good soil, be prepared to cut suckers out a couple times a year, at least. Harbor Dwarf is another one that suckers. So much so, that it can be used as a ground cover. (I don't recommend it.)

I grow:
1. "Compacta", and it suckers very little. Just enough to get a "new" shrub occasionally. It makes berries. 2. Firepower is an excellent nandina that gets about two feet by two feet and does not produce berries (thus no concern for invasiveness), and does not run much, if at all.
3. Gulf Stream is similar to Firepower, but about twice as big (no berries).
4. Firestorm is similar in size to Gulf Stream and makes berries. (I like berries. The birds like berries.) I have not grown it long enough to comment on any running tendencies, but its winter color is as good as Firepower, which is GREAT.

Nandinas are evergreen, have gorgeous fall and winter color, make beautiful berries that last most of the winter, hold in a vase for a long time, and feed the birds. There is no other evergreen in our area, to my knowledge, that gives such lacy texture to a garden. There are no perfect plants, but for my money, in this part of the south, nandinas are very close. (I have never seen them mildew here. Maybe it's our humidity. :)

I constantly read here on the forums that Nandinas are invasive. I have never ever read that they are invasive here in Mississippi, which is not to say that you won't occasionally see one come up from seed in the woods.

(I do not wish to provoke a fight here. If someone can prove me wrong FOR THIS AREA, I will gracefully admit defeat. But, please. Let's agree that plants can be invasive in some areas, and harmless in others.)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:21PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Some noxious weed listings are preemptive strikes.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:57PM
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donna, most people are not trying to fight about it, just inform. Certainly, many people do agree that some things are invasive in some areas but not others.

Of course the fact that you haven't read about it being invasive in Mississippi does not necessarily mean it is not true. Not all the states have published invasive lists for their state (SE-EPPC does one for the region and perhaps some states feel that is sufficient). Mississippi State University Extension service has published a "top ten" list and nandina is not one of the top ten, but heck there were so many to choose from! Some areas list plants as Category 1 and Category 2 invasives (even 3 and 4) so that more things can be addressed.

I pull it out of my yard a couple times a year (same is true for mahonia, privet, and ornamental pears from my neighbor's 'Bradford'). Of course it is not visibly invasive like kudzu (smothering things as they stand there), but a berry here and there will grow and they'll make more and one day there will be a lot. That's how privet got started. I see nandina on the roadside where no one ever planted it ... growing, thriving and making berries.

One way to enjoy it and grow it responsibly is to cut off the berries when they form. Throw them in the trash where the birds can't eat them and spread them. You are not depriving the birds of much food. They'd rather eat the berries off native plants anyway - that is what they evolved eating. Some berries of exotic plants are eaten as a last resort food.

I hope that helps you understand better about the situation. Obviously the plant is not banned for sale and people can buy it if they wish. My goal is only to educate people in areas of concern so that they know what they are doing.

Here is a link that might be useful: showing MS an area of concern

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 10:16AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Major eastern wholesale nurseries continue to promote and sell quantities of widely known pest species such as Norway maple and Japanese barberry - clearly everyone is not on the same page. A potential down side to a plant being a tough and willing subject for large-scale commercial production and landscape planting is that it may prove to be too willing.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 3:36PM
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philipw2(7 MD/DC)

I have a bunch of them on my property. They do seed a bit, but are easily controlled. And they sucker, but not as bad as many shrubs. Despite the seeding the winter interest would make me reluctant to give up the berried type.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 9:08PM
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When people say that a plant "suckers", what doe this mean?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 5:53AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Suckering means that the plant send out roots which then grow copies of the plant, either at the end of the roots or in several places along the roots - i.e.; the plant gets wider and wider. Some plants sucker more widely than others, to the point of being detrimental to enjoyable garden usage, with roots/suckers that extend over many feet, and some sucker only at the base of the plant, making a wider plant/shrub. Running bamboo is an example of a widely suckering plant - forsythia is an example of one that stays close.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 10:07AM
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Thanks, dibbet!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 8:42PM
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