In Chinese and Japanese gardens, Nandina domestica has been cultivated for centuries. In Japan, where it is most popular, there are more than 65 varieties and there is the National Nandina Society. It was believed that the bright red berries of nandina domestica scare away demons, protect against misfortune. The twigs of the plant are used to decorate home altars and temples during the celebration of the New Year.
Description of nandina domestica
Nandina domestica was brought to the West by William Kerr, who sent it to London in his first batch from Canton (then Guangzhou) in 1804. The scientific name given to it by Carl Peter Thunberg is a Latinized version of the Japanese Nanten, which roughly translates to “turn the bad into the good, turn the difficulties back.” Nandina is now widely known around the world as Sacred Bamboo or Heavenly Bamboo.
Despite its household name, Nandina domestica is not bamboo. It is a vertically growing evergreen shrub up to 2-6 m high with a cylindrical openwork crown about 1.5 m in diameter, with numerous, usually unbranched stems growing from ground level. Glossy leaves 50-100 cm long, twice or thrice unpaired, with individual leaflets 4-11 cm long and 1.5-3 cm wide, collected at the ends of the branches. Characteristic “reed” stems and complex leaves, resembling bamboo in shape, as well as active growth of root growth and gave a nickname to the plant.
Young leaves in the spring are brightly colored red, then turn green, but in autumn-winter they again acquire a red or purple tint, and before the beginning of spring growth they turn green again. The flowers are white, about 6 mm in diameter, appear in early summer in conical inflorescences, apical panicles 20-40 cm long, well protruding above the foliage. The fruits are bright red berries with a diameter of 5-10 mm, ripen in autumn and often persist throughout the winter.
Home care of nandina domestica
Although Nandina is called homemade(Nandina domestica), its cultivation has its own subtleties that you need to know. And the main thing, perhaps, is cool wintering and bright lighting. Let’s start with it.
Nandina domestica becomes truly beautiful only with a sufficient amount of light, prefers full sun. In the spring, the young leaves turn a bright pink-crimson color, in most varieties of the summer they turn green, but in the autumn they will again acquire a reddish or purple tint. Place the pot with the plant on the south windows and ensure good air exchange to prevent overheating through the glass.
Nandina is not afraid of drafts (the only exception is frosty air). When growing on a windowsill, regularly rotate the plant relative to the light so that the crown retains a properly rounded shape. As soon as the temperature is set above zero in the spring, you can take the pot or container with the plant to the balcony or garden and leave it there until the onset of autumn. Accustom to the sun’s rays should be gradually, first installing the plant in light shade. With a lack of light, the stems grow weak, the change in color of the leaves is faded, the Nandina domestica does not bloom.
In summer, Nandina is able to tolerate heat up to 40 °C and possible cooling, but the optimal temperature for it lies in the range of + 18 … + 24 °C. The plant can tolerate short drops in temperature below zero, but its leaves and shoots can suffer. In the fall, when kept in the garden, in case of a threat of the first night frosts, cover the Nandina domestica or bring it into the greenhouse. With the onset of steadily cold weather, in order to avoid frostbite, bring it into a room with a temperature of + 5 … + 10 °C, cold wintering for about 3 months (from November to February) is the key to the normal development, growth and flowering of this subtropical plant. At low temperatures, partial or complete leaf fall may occur. If the plant loses all its leaves, then it can be transferred to a dark place.
regular, abundant in the summer, after the drying of the upper layer of the soil, preventing complete overdrying of the earthen lump and stagnation of water in the pot. In winter, when the Nandina domestica rests in the cool, watering is reduced, the soil is maintained in a slightly moist state.
In the summer, natural humidity is usually sufficient, but regular spraying is required in the heat. In spring and autumn, during the heating season, avoid too high temperatures and often spray the crown with water. Since Nandina domestica overwinters in cool conditions, it is not necessary to spray it at this time. When kept in a warm room in a warm room, nandina suffers from dry air and can be severely affected by a tick.
Apply universal complex mineral fertilizers with trace elements for indoor plants from spring to autumn, starting with half dosages. In winter, during the rest, all feedings are canceled.
Soil and replanting
Young plants are transplanted once a year if the roots have managed to master the previous volume well. Adult plants are transplanted every 3-4 years, but regularly change the top layer of soil. It is better to do transplanting in the spring, as soon as the plant starts to grow, and only by the method of careful transshipment with a slight increase in volume, the new pot is larger than the previous one by 2-3 cm in diameter. For Nandina domestica, a ready-made universal soil or substrate for ornamental deciduous plants is suitable. For better drainage, mix about 1/4 of the volume of perlite to all the fresh soil added.
Cropping and shaping
In indoor culture, compact varieties that do not require pruning are more often grown. Nandina domestica branches poorly, pruning and pinching do not lead to thickening of the crown, but leave ugly scars. If necessary, remove old and undisturbed shoots. Nandina gives a good shoot from the ground level. Turn the plant in time so that the crown grows evenly.
During transplantation, you can carefully separate part of the root growth. Nandina domestica is also propagated by cuttings, young semi-woody shoots are treated with root formers, planted in peat-sand (or peat with perlite) soil and placed cuttings in a greenhouse with high humidity. The temperature is maintained at about +25 °C, rooting occurs in 4-10 weeks.
Cultivated varieties may be sterile or produce few seeds. If seeds are obtained, they are sown immediately upon extraction from the fruit into loose soil, the container is covered with glass or film on top and kept in the light at a temperature of about + 25 °C.
Nandina domestica can be affected by aphids, shields and mealybugs, and in dry air is susceptible to a tick attack.
Types of nandina domestica
In cold climates, Nandina domestica is an excellent container crop or is kept as a potted plant. It is very popular in the technique of growing bonsai. Basically, compact varieties with bright foliage colors or unusual flowering are cultivated.
- Alba is a variety with white berries and yellowish-green foliage, which turns yellow in autumn.
- Compacta is a low-growing cultivar, reaching a height of 120-150 cm, with lacy foliage that turns red in autumn.
- Fire Poweris a very compact plant, up to 60 cm tall and wide. The leaves are red in summer and bright red in winter.
- Gulf Stream is a slow-growing variety up to 90-120 cm high with blue-green summer foliage and red winter foliage. It doesn’t bear fruit.
- Harbour Dwarf is a dwarf cultivar that grows only up to 60 cm, in winter the foliage is orange- or bronze-red.
- Woods Dwarf is a globular variety up to 120 cm with dense foliage that turns red in winter.
- Moyer’s Red– 120-180 cm high and 60-150 cm in diameter, has light pink flowers.
- Royal Princess – up to 2.5 meters, with pale pink and white inflorescences. In autumn, numerous red berries appear, the foliage acquires an orange-red color.
In conclusion – 3 novelties of recent years:
- Twilight is an isolated mutation of the ‘Gulf Stream’ variety. Young leaves are pink in color with irregular white strokes, as they age, they turn green, which creates a beautiful contrast with the newly growing young leaves. Compact, has a dense spherical crown, not exceeding 0.5 m in diameter.
- BrightLight is an elegant variety with shining yellow-green foliage and a vertical growth form. The leaves are longer than those of other varieties. In adulthood, the plant is 1.50 m tall and 50 cm wide.
- Magical Lemon & Lime – young leaves of a pale yellow color, in summer they become light green, and in autumn and winter – orange-red. A compact variety with a rounded crown, the diameter of which is about 60 cm, does not need pruning.