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Care for Nandina Plants

By Aileen Clarkson ; Updated September 21, 2017

Nandina (Nandina domestica) is a tough, drought-resistant evergreen or semievergreen shrub. Also known as heavenly bamboo, this shrub grows in USDA hardiness zones 6b to 9. Pinkish-white flowers bloom in late spring or early summer, and the shrub's leaves turn a scarlet red during the winter.

Choose a location with partial shade to full sun; moist, fertile soil; and protection from harsh winds. The more sun your shrub receives, the redder the leaves will appear during the winter.

Place your Nandina shrubs 3 to 5 feet apart. They can grow to 10 feet high, depending on how severely you prune them. Nandinas are naturally slow-growing, but will grow 12 to 24 inches per year, depending on conditions, including location, light, fertility and water, according to the Clemson Extension Service.

Water your Nandina weekly until it is established. After that, water only during long dry spells.

Prune Nandina every year. Because it is a cane-producing shrub, it will produce unsightly and invasive side stems, which can be removed any time. Thin out old stems in the fall to produce a denser plant. Dwarf varieties won’t need as much pruning, but you can trim them to keep their shape.

Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer in the spring. Because Nandina does not have an extensive root system, place the fertilizer fairly close to its base. However, do not let it actually touch the trunk.


Things You Will Need

  • Slow-release fertilizer

About the Author


Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years, earning three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer." Clarkson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Florida.