Pruning Nandina

Posted by & filed under Don Buma Blog, Garden News, Horticulture News.

nandina berries closeupNandina, Nandina domestica, also called heavenly bamboo, is one of those plants that some people love to hate. These feelings are probably engendered by the over-use use of nandina because of its aggressive behavior. However, it is a tough and pretty much year-round interest plant with white flowers in spring, green foliage throughout the year – with bronze highlights during the winter.  Plus it has great red berries that are ideal for holiday decoration. It grows in sun or shade, is drought tolerant and will grow surprisingly well in just about any soil condition. Much of the ill-will aimed at nandina can be eliminated by proper pruning and regular removal of unwanted new plants that spring up quite regularly. Now is an appropriate time to prune your nandinas. If pruning an old planting, remove about one third of the older stems.  I find this is often easiest with a small, 6”, Japanese-style hand pruner. The stems are tough and hand pruners are generally not up to the task and loppers are too ungainly to get at the cuts that may be necessary. Hand pruners and loppers, if necessary, can be used to selectively head back the stems that remain after this first stage or full stem removal process is complete. To give the planting a full attractive appearance,  head back a portion of the stems to about one third their length, others one half their length, and the other remaining stems to one quarter of their length.  All cuts should be made just slightly above a leaf node or branch so that a new shoot will develop. Prunning in this manner prevents the plant from acquiring a spindly, naked stemmed appearance.  Now is a good time to prune while providing branches with colorful red berries for your home decorations.