Trees

How to care for the Nandina plant

Spectacular plants grow in China and Japan, such as Japanese maples or like our protagonist, Nandina domestica, although you may know it better by its other names, such as Sacred Bamboo or simply Nandina. This plant is an evergreen shrub ideal to have in any type of garden, whether large or small, and it also serves to decorate patios and terraces.

But do you know how to take care of the Nandina plant? Whether you have just entered the world of gardening or if you have been around for a while and want to have a different bush than those that can be found in nurseries in the best conditions, this article is for you.

Main features

The Nandina domestica is a plant that is characterized by green leaves that turn red or orange in autumn. It reaches a height of about 2m, and is easily resistant to frosts down to -7ºC. However, it is not capable of withstanding high temperatures. If the temperatures are above 35ºC, it must be kept with the substrate/ soil moist to prevent its roots from drying out.

Given the chromatic beauty of its leaves, it can be used as an ornamental plant during different times of the year. Although it is commonly called sacred bamboo, it must be said that it is not actually a bamboo. This plant belongs to the Berberidaceae family and has the appearance of a woody shrub growing quite tightly.

The famous leaves of this plant are of the compound type and perennial. They are up to about 50 centimeters long. When the plant is young, its vegetative organs have a special peculiarity. And it is that they turn bright red or pink when spring arrives. This tone is acquired before acquiring the medium green color typical of maturity. Another fundamental aspect of the leaves is that they return to this intense red or pink color when the leaves are about to fall. This color also serves as an indicator to know the status of the sheets.

By having these changes in the colors of the leaves, the Nandina domestica becomes a plant capable of combining aesthetically with other blooms that take place in summer. These flowers are presented in large panicles that are composed of small white flowers that are grouped at the ends of the branches. As for the fruits of this plant, they are bright red berries. It is quite small in size and globose in appearance. They tend to persist for a long time, enduring the coldest winters. If you are in an area with excessively hot summers, it is possible that this plant will not produce fruits due to the high temperatures.

Requirements of Nandina domestica

This plant, as we have mentioned before, has greater rusticity in terms of cold rather than heat. Only if the temperature is below -10 degrees and frequently, we can see that they begin to lose the leaves at the bottom. It must already be too extreme a winter for this plant to not be able to survive it.

It is important that the pH of the soil is slightly acidic, between 5 and 6, to prevent its leaves from having chlorosis, and that it has good drainage. In the event that we want to have it in a pot, we will use a substrate for acidophilic plants mixed with 20 or 30% perlite.

Necessary care

Image – Flickr/ guzhengman

The first thing to consider is the location. The most ideal location will be the one where it can be exposed to direct sun, except if the climate is very warm, such as the Mediterranean for example, where it will grow much better in semi-shade. In any case, to help it be even more beautiful, we can fertilize it in spring and summer with specific fertilizers for acid plants following the instructions specified on the packaging.

Watering has to be frequent, especially in the hottest months of the year. As a general rule, we have to water every 3 days in summer and every 7-8 days the rest of the year. If in doubt, check the humidity of the soil/ substrate, for example inserting a thin wooden stick to the bottom and, when removing it, see if it comes out more or less clean, which would indicate that the earth is dry, or If, on the contrary, it comes out with a lot of soil attached.

There are no known pests or diseases, and it is not necessary to prune it. Of course, if you see that it is having a disorderly growth and you want to give it shape, you can do it at the end of winter, when the risk of frost has passed.

Propagation of Nandina domestica

Since it can have great ornamental value in our garden, it can be interesting to learn how we should propagate it. As we have mentioned before, it is a plant that prefers acidic to neutral soils. To keep it in good condition all the time, it needs a high level of humidity. In the summer time, when temperatures are much higher, it needs a greater amount of environmental humidity. This is because it is a plant that does not withstand high temperatures very well.

If we move to the garden and the area where we live tends to have abundant rainfall, it is interesting to prepare the soil well. And it is that the drainage of the soil is a fundamental aspect for the survival of this plant. Both common irrigation and rain can cause waterlogging if the soil does not have good drainage. The Nandina domestica is not very good outlasting waterlogging. It must be protected from the wind at all times.

If you want to propagate this plant, the ideal is to do it by seeds. It can also be done by division of clumps or by cuttings. If we do it by seed, we must know that germination occurs very slowly. The most reliable method to be able to reproduce this plant more quickly is the propagation of semi-mature cuttings. These stakes must be taken in the summer time and kept in greenhouses during the coldest season of the year. Thanks to this maintenance in greenhouses, the plant can propagate more easily.

Image – Wikimedia/ Sten Porse

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the Nandina domestica.

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