Winter Color That Doesn't Take Over
Commercial Horticulture Agent II
Okaloosa County Extension
5479 Old Bethel Rd
Crestview, Florida 32536
Nandina domestica, also known as heavenly bamboo, is a popular evergreen cane-like shrub native to China and Japan. The lower temperatures that occur in the fall and winter turn the outer leaves burgundy red in color making Nandina a highly ornamental species of economic importance to the nursery and landscape industries. However, since being introduced to the United States around 1804, Nandina has been listed by many organizations as being invasive in most southeastern U.S. states and is recorded in natural areas of nine states. In fact, the wild type is listed as a Class 1 invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, which means that it is “actively disrupting plant communities”. To address this issue and identify non-invasive selections, University researchers have developed and evaluated several sterile cultivars.
'Firepower' Nandina (Nandina domestica) Photo Credits: EDIS Publication #ENH1116 'Firepower' Nandina (Nandina domestica): A Noninvasive Nandina for Florida
Many cultivars have been developed for size and winter leaf color. Dwarf selections are the most commonly grown by nurseries. There are several dwarf cultivars that range in height from 1.5 – 4 ft. ‘Harbor Dwarf’ is a popular dwarf selection that grows to about 3 ft. ‘Woods Dwarf’ grows as little leafy spheres that are about 1.5 ft. in diameter. Because of its beauty and toughness, ‘Firepower’ dwarf nandina, standing about 2 ft. in height, is often used as a low maintenance mass planting in traffic islands and commercial landscapes. It shows up well against light colored buildings and is good to use in groupings of three or more. Additionally, University of Florida researchers noted in their evaluations of the nandina cultivar selections that ‘Firepower” failed to flower or fruit leaving it no potential for becoming invasive.