How to Grow Nandinas in Full Shade

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Things You'll Need

  • USDA plant hardiness zone map

  • Soil test kit


Prune nandina in the springtime to create denser growth. Weak growth and the oldest branches should be removed at ground level; remove up to one-third of the canes.

Nandina domestica, also referred to as "heavenly bamboo," is a type of evergreen shrub characterized by its bright bronze-red leaves that change to pink, bluish green and finally light green with the seasons. A favorite of Japanese gardens, this shrub bears a slight resemblance to bamboo and can grow up to 8 feet high if left unpruned. Nandina is known for its hardiness and ability to flourish in full sun, partial shade or full shade. While planting the shrub in full shade may be conducive to your landscaping plans, note that nandina planted in full shade will not produce the bright colors that result from growing in full sun.


Step 1

Check a USDA plant hardiness zone map to determine if nandina will flourish in your garden or lawn. These maps break down the United States into zones ranging from 1 to 11 based on average winter temperatures. For example, zone 1 means temperatures can get as low as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while zone 11 temperatures rarely fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit during winter months. Nandina does well in USDA zones 5 through 10.


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Step 2

Use a soil test kit to test the pH level of your soil. Nandina grows best in soil that is fairly acidic with a pH range between 3.7 and 6.4. Follow your soil test kit's instructions, which generally include scooping a soil sample from your garden or lawn and pouring the soil, when it is completely dry, into the pH test vial. A testing powder is then added to determine the soil's pH level.


Step 3

Plant nandina softwood cuttings in an area that is protected from harsh winds. While it is possible to germinate nandina from seeds, the process can take several years; therefore, softwood cuttings from new growth are recommended. Take the cuttings during warm weather, but plant the cuttings during cooler weather, such as fall months, for best results. Cooler weather gives the plant a better chance to establish hardy growth. Use mulch as your fertilizer, and mix it with the soil when planting the shrub.


Step 4

Keep the soil around the shrub moist, but not soaking, to ensure proper growth. Once established, nandina can withstand drought periods with little damage to the shrub.


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