The domestic Nandina
Evergreen shrub native to Asia, very rustic, well adapted to the Italian climate, and generally European. From a robust root system, thin woody stems are produced, which at the apex bear large clumps of large pinnate leaves, made up of thin lanceolate leaflets, dark green in color, and with a stiff and fairly leathery consistency; in general the plants produce more neighboring stems, so as to give rise to a round, very dense and compact shrub. In spring at the apex of the stems small white flowers bloom, gathered in long panicles, often arched. In summer and autumn the flowers give way to numerous small bright red berries, which remain on the plant until the following spring. An adult shrub of nandina domestic can reach 150-180 cm in height.
The young shoots are generally reddish, during the winter they tend to become completely red; there are many hybrid varieties or cultivars of nandina, some have a particularly compact habit, not exceeding 35-40 cm in height, others have constantly red or orange foliage.
They are very suitable plants to be cultivated as single specimens, or in colored hedges; the dwarf varieties are also used in the borders or in the mixed border.
It is a very vigorous and rustic shrub that does not fear winter cold. It loves sunny or semi-shady locations, in an excessively shaded place it tends not to bloom or produce colored foliage, the whole plant takes on a dark green color.
It is placed in a good fresh and rich soil, even if it tends to develop in almost any soil, provided it is well drained and does not remain wet for long; it can withstand periods of drought without problems, especially if it has been for a long time.
The specimens recently settled prefer instead to be watered during the summer, especially in case of prolonged drought.
It can happen, in areas with very cold winters, that the plant loses part of the foliage, even if this does not compromise the spring vegetative growth.
At the end of winter, usually shrubs are fertilized by burying mature manure or humus at the foot of the stem; if desired it is also possible to use for fertilizing a slow release granular fertilizer, which will gradually dissolve over a few months.
Generally these plants do not need pruning, although it may be useful to remove the branches that carried the berries, once they have fallen.
In any case, they are healthy and rustic shrubs, which are not generally affected by pests or diseases; sometimes, in case of prolonged drought, the foliage can be attacked by mites, without this actually ruining the plants significantly.
The sacred bamboo
At first glance nandine remember the bamboos in their development; in China and part of Asia Nandina is called sacred bamboo, and is therefore planted near the temples; it is believed to be a lucky plant, so it is very common in cultivation.
It is also widely used to produce bonsai, even if it is certainly an essence suitable for the experts of this art, to be advised against by a neophyte, due to the large foliage. Moreover, in areas with a warm climate, the domestic nandina as well as the bamboo can invade and extend throughout the garden, both through seeds and through its roots that are difficult to tear and eliminate. For this reason, some absolutely advise against this plant while others (most gardeners) say it is one of the best ornamental species for the garden!
Nandina - Nandina domestica: Multiplication
As for the multiplication, we must affirm that it is very simple to propagate the nandina; if we have a specimen of the type species we can try to sow the small seeds contained in the berries, even if often these seeds are not fertile; in the case of particular varieties this operation can also be avoided, given that even if they sprouted, we would not be sure of the appearance of the plant then obtained, hardly equal to the mother plant. The most suitable propagation method is the semi-woody cutting, to be practiced in late spring or late summer: the tips of the branches are taken, and to them most of the leaves are removed, taking care also to shorten the last remaining leaves; then bury the cuttings in a good damp and cool soil, to keep in a shady place, and to water frequently.