The Heavenly Bamboo, otherwise known as the Nandina Domestica is a rather long distance cousin to the traditional bamboo, only named so due to its vertical growth pattern. In any case, this incredibly nice bush is known for its full and beautiful year-round foliage and amazingly colored berries that will give your home a nice Asian look and feel.
If you’re wondering: how do you care for a Heavenly Bamboo plant, simply follow these steps:
- Light and Temperature: Heavenly Bamboos prefer slightly warmer temperatures and full, direct sunlight – but prefer a sheltered location to avoid colder winds.
- Watering: Water when needed, often weekly during the summer, but consider it is in fact drought resistant.
- Soil: Nandina Domestica plants prefer average, to well-draining soil in order to thrive.
Considered a relatively low maintenance shrub, these are practically all of the considerations you need to take into account if your only business is to make sure your Nandina lives on.
However, if you want to go the extra mile, for instance, learning how to prune it, how to propagate it, which pests it can outlast, or the most common frequently asked questions, then read along – since this guide will cover those and many more topics as we move on.
Basic Care Guidelines: Heavenly Bamboo
As with most plants, we’ve divided the different care elements into the basic ones and the advanced ones. Let’s get going with the basic care guidelines or light & temperature, watering, and soil.
But before we dive into them, it’s important to understand which plant you are receiving when you decide to take care of a Nandina Domestica – so we’ll touch upon that briefly.
The Heavenly Bamboo is native to Asia, specifically Japan, India and China – which means that it requires more temperate environments than other plants.
Much of the appeal of the Heavenly Bamboo by plant enthusiasts is its amazing evergreen foliage and semi-evergreen characteristics which are shown in springtime through small white flowers and vividly red berries.
Concerning its light needs, the Heavenly Bamboo prefers to live in a sunny or at least partly sunny environment. But, even if it’s located in partial shade your Nandina will do just fine. Therefore, as a good rule of thumb, try to keep your plant in a full-sunlit location, which will generally be the south, east or west section of your garden as you will be able to guarantee a good amount of direct sunlight from there.
One noteworthy aspect of the Heavenly Bamboo, is that its colors, especially in its leaves will become vibrant once they have received direct sunlight for a good amount of time.
Heavenly Bamboos fare best in warmer, slightly humid climates, but are still capable of withstanding low temperatures for a brief period of time (as low as -12°C or 10°F) – however, this plant is especially susceptible to cold wind drafts and currents. This is why many experts consider that the ideal location for your Nandina Domestica will most likely be a sheltered spot in your garden, in order to be protected from dry, cold winds.
As an evergreen plant, the Heavenly Bamboo requires a high level of watering care throughout the year. This is shown with its higher-than-average watering frequency as water will easily evaporate through its leaves throughout the year. Particularly, in its first growing season, water it heavily since this will show with an extensive and strong root system. Once it is established – this plant will likely thrive in most conditions. Keep in mind that if you have your Nandina in a container it will likely dry out quicker than if planted in a garden.
But, as with most of our plants, we recommend you do a daily checkup instead of a fixed watering schedule to see how dry or moist your plant’s soil is.
A good rule of thumb to follow with your Heavenly Bamboo’s watering needs is to water it weekly during the summer months and once every other week during the winter months. But, again, it’s best if you modify these recommendations to whatever works best in your location, since climate, altitude and location have a role to play in all plant’s watering schedules.
Finally, it’s worth considering that due to their shrub-like characteristics, this plant is most often accustomed to being watered through rain as it generally sits outside. This fact is why some experts consider a good practice to let the water sit for a couple of days before you use it to water your Heavenly, as this will help any chemicals found in your tap water to evaporate and avoid any of them affecting your plant in any way.
Concerning soil needs, the Heavenly Bamboo is extremely easy-going, as it only needs well-draining soil to grow and will thrive when placed in rich soil. These relatively easy considerations might come to you as no surprise since this plant ventures into the shrub category, which makes things one degree easier than your average houseplant. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your Heavenly Bamboo in well-draining rich soil, that holds moisture during the summer and drains well during the winter and you’ll be good to go.
However, if you want to go to the specifics, the Heavenly Bamboo performs pretty well in most soils with varying pHs, but will not do well in chalk. Additionally if you find that the soil is particularly alkaline, be sure to add iron to balance things out.
And that’s it! That’s basically everything you need to know to keep your Nandina Domestica alive. But, if you plan on going the extra mile, then buckle up for our next section advanced plant caretakers.
Advanced Cared Guidelines: Heavenly Bamboo
In this section of this article we will cover: pruning or cutting, fertilization, propagation, repotting and pests related to the Nandina.
Pruning or Cutting
Better known for its slow growth speed, the Heavenly Bamboo won’t be a common problem in the constant cutting department. However, many experts agree that even though this won’t be a common feat, it’s a necessary one as it will ensure that your plant grows healthy and strong and doesn’t use up energy where it doesn’t need to. So if you’re wondering: “When should I prune my heavenly bamboo?” then read along.
The Heavenly Bamboo can become “leggy” (or lengthy in independent roots) if you allow it to grow too much – which most experts agree is above 5 ft in height. But the recommended shape to strive for is a narrow one, which can be done by cutting the stems directly from their base. Aim for the stems that seem old and weak, as soon as the berries begin to drop, which will result in new stems coming up from the base, which equal a healthy “core” for your plant.
Proper fertilization is key in order to guarantee that your Heavenly Bamboo stays both healthy, and can bloom to its full capacity and maintains its overall vitality shown through its leaves. Fortunately, this plant is not extremely demanding, so you can go by fertilizing it every year during its growing months and repeat every 2 weeks during this period.
In order to properly fertilize your Heavenly Bamboo, simply follow these steps:
- Fertilize it in the Spring and Summer months.
- Use a common fertilizer for shrubs or with compost with horn chips.
- Place the fertilizing material evenly throughout the top soil and water.
Most plant experts agree that a Heavenly Bamboo will outgrow its container on average every 2 to 3 years. Of course this will vary depending on several conditions related to your plant specifically, but stay on the lookout for common both root-bound signs as they will be your tall-tale sign of being ready to go. Next, consider when you want to pursue the repotting, as your plant is more likely to fare better in the growth (spring & summer) months.
To properly repot your Heavenly Bamboo, follow these steps:
- Make sure your new container is approximately ⅓ times the size of the previous container.
- Place one layer of nutrient rich soil and fill to about ¾ of the container.
- Carefully remove your plant from its current container by hoisting it up from its stem.
- Plant your Heavenly Bamboo to the same height it had before & water to allow the soil to settle.
Propagating your Heavenly Bamboo will most likely not be an issue, as in some cases this plant can be considered to be invasive. However, the best way for you to propagate your Nandina is by transplanting its runners or shoots – which will be easy to pick and choose if you have a healthy grown plant already – but be sure to do it during the fall.
Another alternative is propagating your plant with seeds – a surely time consuming, but often satisfying project if you have the time to spare. The best way to do so is by grabbing its berries once they are about to fall off (a dark color will be the right indicator) or by using Heavenly Bamboo seeds.Then, everything you need to do is to place them near the base of the parent plant, making sure to use the same soil as before and continue your routine as is. Once your plants are big enough to transplant, (which can be in around six weeks) you’ll be able to transplant it with the instructions mentioned above.
One of the most noteworthy characteristics from the Nandina Domestica is the fact that they are generally pest free. This makes them easy to take care of and attractive for beginners since not having to think about pesky pests is one less consideration you need to have while keeping your Heavenly Bamboo healthy.
However, even though you might be in the clear with pests, the Heavenly Bamboo can still have to combat some common diseases which you can encounter. For one, some experts claim that this plant can develop chlorosis (when plants produce very little chlorophyll, making them turn yellow), when subjected to alkaline soil, so keep that in mind). If you consider that this plant has its origins in an Asian ecosystem, it can have a relatively difficult time to adjust to any other environment, which will vary depending on where you live.
This is why it’s important to keep an eye out for Fungus diseases, which will show in the shape of a white covering on its leaves – better known as a powdery mildew. This is why you should preemptively steer away from overhead watering as this disease will spread through moist leaves.
To tackle powdery mildew on Nandina Domestica simply:
- Cut off the infected leaves.
- Use a mix of ⅚ water and ⅙ fresh milk and spray on the leaves.
If you counter round leaf spots, then use common over the counter pesticides.
Heavenly Bamboo Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Heavenly Bamboo fast growing?
The Heavenly Bamboo plant is not considered to be a fast growing plant, instead, it’s widely regarded as a slow-growing shrub. However, once this plant get’s growing, it’s very sturdy and will likely thrive wherever it is. So much so, that it is considered an invasive species since it will lively overshadow other plants due to its large size and resilience.
Why is my heavenly bamboo dying?
The easiest way to tell if your Heavenly Bamboo is dying is by looking at its leaves. If you are seeing that its leaves are falling one of the main causes is the temperature dropping to less than 10° C – which is already pretty low considering this plant is drought and winter/ frost resistant. However, being drought resistant doesn’t mean it wont show symptoms if the drought goes too far. The Nandina will quickly drop its fruits and flowers as soon as it becomes water-stressed.
Another common reason for your Heavenly Bamboo to die is if the soil it is in is not draining properly, which can quickly cause root rot and have an impact on it, especially shown as dieback or when the outer leaves, foliage or branches start dying off.
Is Heavenly Bamboo poisonous to dogs, cats or birds?
According to petspoisonhelpline.com the Heavenly Bamboo is indeed poisonous to dogs, cats and birds alike. Their attractively colored red fruits will likely catch their eye, but are filled with cyanogenic glycosides. This will quickly result in vomiting, abdominal pain and other symptoms, so be sure to act quickly if this happens.
Is Heavenly Bamboo poisonous to humans?
The Heavenly Bamboo is not considered to be poisonous to humans, since it falls in a Toxicity Category 4.