Nandina domenstica

Nandina domenstica

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Nandina domenstica is an evergreen, or semi-evergreen, shrub, native to Asia; it has a rounded shape, the stems are erect, scarcely or not at all branched, and bear large pinnate leaves, consisting of small oval or lanceolate leaves; on the whole the foliage has a very elegant and delicate aspect, as well as the whole plant. Each single stem bears leaves only in the upper two thirds, while the base is bare; the compact appearance of the plant is due to the fact that new suckers constantly sprout from the root system, which therefore help to keep the lower open of the plant bushy. The leaves are thin, slightly leathery, light green in color; during the winter months they take on an orange or red color.

On the market it is common to find varieties with a bronze red color, even in the new vegetation. In spring it produces small white flowers, with yellow anthers, gathered in large clusters, followed by red berries that remain on the plant even during the winter months.

Origin and curiosity Nandina

Nandina, also known as “Sacred Bamboo” has its origins in Asia where it is still widely cultivated today. In fact, in the East it is considered a auspicious symbol and for this reason it is planted in sacred temples and used to decorate altars. It was William Kerr, a Scottish nobleman, who imported it to London from Canton in 1804 and from that moment it broke the hearts of the English who began to cultivate it in their gardens. The name "Nandina" was assigned to it by a svedere botanist (Carl Peter Thunberg), a student of Linnaeus who distorted the name by which it is called in Japan, or "Nan-Ten".

Common nameNandina
Botanical nameNandina domestica
Temperatures Minimum T ° -5 ° C
ExposureFull sun, partial shade
Leaves colorYellow, red or green
Flowering periodSpring
Flowers colorWhite
Fruit colorCoral red
Fruiting periodSeed, grafting
HeightUp to 2 meters


Nandina domenstica plants are rustic shrubs, which do not suffer from the cold, and can withstand even very cold temperatures for prolonged periods of time. The ideal exposure for this type of plant is in a very sunny and bright environment, so that it can receive direct sunlight in the coolest hours. Being a rustic and resistant plant it can withstand a cold climate, but, if grown in pots, it must be sheltered or protected when the first winter colds arrive.


Young specimens of this plant variety must be watered regularly during the hot season, always waiting for the soil to dry well between watering. Plants that have been planted for some time can be satisfied with the water provided by the rains, although it may be necessary to intervene with light watering during the summer, in case of prolonged drought. A different speech should be made for plants grown in pots, which require a greater supply of water, since they cannot exploit the natural humidity of the open ground.


The plants of this particular ornamental variety prefer loose, soft and very well drained soils, as they can be affected by the dangerous stagnation of water that can form. These are undemanding shrubs, which can also be adapted to common garden soil, without the need for particularly rich soil.


The multiplication of these plants usually takes place by seed, in autumn; It is also possible to propagate the nandina by removing some suckers from the base of the plant, checking that each sucker has some well developed roots. It is also possible to proceed in the autumn season with the multiplication through semi-woody cuttings, taking care to protect the new plants in a sheltered place so that they can develop and gain strength before the final planting.

Parasites and diseases

The nandina domenstica plants, despite being rustic, can be affected by aphids, especially during the spring months; with the summer heat under the leaves mites can nest.

Another problem is that linked to fungal diseases that can arise due to excessive humidity and that can also irreparably compromise the health of the plant.

The Nandina hedge

Nandina is usually used in the garden as a hedge, in pots or in open fields. If you grow Nandina in pots, growth may be slower and more irrigations and comcimations may be required.

The ideal would be to cultivate it in the ground, digging holes and planting the purchased plants, taking care to respect an average distance between the various plants of at least 50-60 cm; this need is due to the fact that it is a shrub that reaches a fairly high height. In order to have a beautiful flowering Nandina hedge, the soil, in addition to being well drained, must be exposed to the sun or partial shade.

An abundant flowering will ensure a beautiful production of red berries that will keep on the plant throughout the winter period making your garden magical during the holiday season.

Variety of Nandina

The most common varieties of Nandina on the market are essentially four: the Nandina domestica "alba", characterized by cream-colored berries instead of coral red and green leaves, the Nandina domestica "fire Power" with a compact and low habit, it has gibbous leaves with typical autumnal colors.

This variety needs a more shaded exposure than the others. There Nandina "Atropurpurea Nana" with a more compact posture than the others and young purple-reddish leaves.

Finally the Nandina "San Gabriel" or "Filamentosa", rarer to find than the previous ones, characterized by very narrow leaves, similar to those of bamboo. This variety does not bear fruit but the foliage takes on a beautiful purple color in autumn.

Nandina domenstica: Toxicity

Nandina is characterized by the toxicity of all its parts that contain hydrogen cyanide. This acid is very poisonous and could be fatal if swallowed. The plant is considered non-toxic to humans, however the berries are very toxic to pets and grazing animals.

There berry toxicity it is due to the presence of alkaloids such as nanthenin, a molecule that blocks the effects of MDMA in animals. The berries, on the other hand, are not toxic to birds which, on the contrary, by eating them, contribute to the dispersion of the seeds of the plant through their excrement. In any case, even for birds, a nandina berry indigestion can be fatal.

Video: Nandina domestica: Heavenly Bamboo