by Merilyn Cranford, Somervell County Master Gardener
Nandina domestica, or commonly known as heavenly bamboo or sacred bamboo is my favorite plant. It is a species of flowering plant native to eastern Asia. Despite the common name, it is not bamboo but an erect evergreen shrub that can grow to as much as 7 feet tall.
In spring, the glossy leaves are brightly colored pink to red before turning green; old leaves turn red or purple before falling. Nandina’s flowers are white, borne in early summer in clusters held well above the foliage. The fruit is a bright-red berry which ripens in late autumn and is attractive to fall landscapes.
Although grown extensively in Texas due to its tolerance for dry conditions, some varieties are considered invasive. However, this is primarily due to birds spreading seed into natural areas where nandina proliferates and crowds out native species, both through seeding and by the growth of underground stems.
Nandina is widely grown in gardens as an ornamental plant and is hardy to heat and dry growing conditions. A true low-care plant, it needs no special care or pruning.
So through the aforementioned description, maybe you can understand why this plant is my favorite. Since it needs no special care in our hot, arid summers, and yet produces the most beautiful orange and red leaves in the fall, it holds a special place in my garden.
The next time you are shopping for a plant that needs no special care, consider adding Nandina to your landscape for that splash of color you need. HAPPY GARDENING!