Nandina is a common name of heavenly bamboo and hails from India and China. The plant has a bushy growth pattern with vertical stems and is a landscape specimen in the United States. While nandina is available as mature plants in nurseries, they also germinate well from seed. The key to growing nandina from seed is to plant the seeds while they are still fresh. Older seeds will germinate, but they take much longer, often up to one year.
Locate a mature nandina plant from which to collect the seeds and wait until the fall when berries turn bright red in color. Pick the berries off of the plant. Each berry contains two nandina seeds.
Fill a small to medium-sized bowl half full of lukewarm water and place the red berries into it. Set the bowl aside and allow the berries to soak for 24 hours, which softens the outer pulp.
Squeeze the berries using your fingers to scrape away the outer pulp and reveal the inner seeds. Scoop up the seeds, which float, from the top of the water and discard the pulp and water from the bowl.
Fill 3- to 4-inch diameter plant pots with a sterile potting mix until it reaches 1/2 inch from the top rim of the pot. Poke a 3-inch deep hole in the center of the soil in each pot using a pencil.
Insert one nandina seed into each hole and fill in the holes completely with additional soil mix.
Place all of the pots into a shallow tray to make transporting them easier and to collect water drainage. Water the top of the soil in each pot until it soaks all the way to the bottom and drains out. Cover the tray with a piece of clear plastic wrap.
Place the pots in an area that maintains a consistent temperature of 69 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer and has bright sun exposure. If needed, place the tray on a heating mat to achieve the proper temperature.
Wait until the seeds germinate in approximately 60 days and then remove the plastic wrap. Continue watering the seedlings throughout the winter and plant outdoors in the spring when frost threats pass. Choose a location with full sunlight conditions and well-drained soil.