Gardens Ablaze

Nandina
A hole is nothing at all, but you can still break your neck in it.

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Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo) is an attractive shrub that is native to the Far East.  It is an evergreen that features lacy-looking foliage, fall color, lots of tiny flowers in mid-summer, and bright red winter berries.  It is used often in Japanese type gardens because of it's intricate foliage, and it is a stand-out as far as leaf texture and color. 

Nandina can be used just about anywhere in the home landscape.  Planted en masse, it makes a thick, attractive hedge that can grow up to about 6 feet tall, depending on the cultivar used.  It can be used on either side of an entryway, where it casts intricate silhouettes from the entrance lights.  It can be used alone as a specimen plant, or combined with other evergreens with contrasting leaf texture. The leaves and berries also makes excellent additions to cut flower arrangements, and the flower clusters can be dried for an attractive addition to dried flower arrangements.  In the fall, the leaves turn beautiful colors, including bronze, red, pink, and orange, and in the winter, it provides color with it's opulent bright red berries.

Nandina is extremely easy to grow, and will do well under many different garden situations.  It's only real requirement is well drained soil, as it doesn't appreciate wet feet.  It's color is at it's best in full sun, but it will also thrive in part shade.  It is a multi-stemmed plant, and each stem somewhat resembles Bamboo - hence the nickname Heavenly Bamboo. 

Nandina can be propagated by seed, but the seeds require stratification first.  To do this, pick the berries when they are plump and red.  Soak them overnight in room temperature water, then mix with a sterile mixture that will hold water, such as sphagnum moss or sand.  Moisten this medium, and mix in the seeds. Refrigerate for approximately four months, checking periodically to be sure the mixture is still moist, then remove the seeds and plant immediately.  Nandina can also be propagated by root division, but in larger specimens this may not be feasible.  Stem cuttings can also be taken using the softer wood at the end of the branches.  Use rooting hormone, plant in a sterile mix, and keep moist. 

Nandina berries are listed as being poisonous in a lot of the written documentation, and it has been proven to be harmful to pets - particularly cats.  However, little study has been done on humans, and I could find no documentation on human poisonings from Nandina berries.  Even so, do watch the pets and the kids around this plant, because ingesting it definitely will not help them.  Birds do eat the seeds with no ill effects, and as such, this plant is a good source of nutrition for birds during the lean winter months.

 

 

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