In The Garden Now … Heavenly Bamboo

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sacred Bamboo

Text and photo by Victoria Gilleland

When people hear that the common name for this plant is ‘Heavenly Bamboo’ they sometimes shriek in horror, “Not bamboo!” Bamboo has a well-earned reputation as a thug in the garden. It’s been known to spread relentlessly and to be very difficult to eradicate. This is not that bamboo. This is Nandina domestica, a completely different, well-mannered shrub that just happens to have “Bamboo” in its common name because it resembles bamboo.

The Heavenly Bamboo pictured here is one I bought as a species plant many years ago so it’s not a named variety. It’s been growing in a large decorative pot in my garden for about 10 years. I’m sure it’s root bound, but it still looks healthy and produces white flowers in spring followed by red berries in fall and winter so it can stay there a bit longer. I hate to disturb a plant that’s doing well.

I’ve found that some plants actually flower and berry better if they’re under a certain amount of stress such as minimal water or being root bound. I think it may be true in this case.

This evergreen shrub is about 5 feet high and 4 feet wide. Grown directly in the ground it would probably grow larger. On this and most other nandina varieties, new foliage is a shade of red or orange, turning to green later in spring and summer. Foliage changes from green to shades of red as the weather cools in fall. A sunnier spot in the garden usually means more colorful foliage.

There are many varieties of heavenly bamboo available for northwest gardens. They range in size from compact to large shrubs. Foliage color and growth habit differ among varieties. Some will survive colder temperatures than others. Check out the details before you make a choice.

Why not bring a bit of heaven into your life with the addition of Heavenly Bamboo to your garden?

(Botanical Name: Nandina domestica)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


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