Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not Exactly a Domestic Brand

Well, it is nice to be able to write a blog again. The past two weeks have been incredibly hectic. I guess everybody decided to read my last blog on Fall being the best time to plant. We got extremely busy at work, which is a good thing. Then each of the past two weekends, the Master Gardeners have had something going on. Which brings me to today's post.....but first....forgive me for this one folks....I believe today must be a good day to fertilize your is everybody's most popular fertilizer...10-10-10. Okay, sorry.....I had to get that one out.
I mentioned the Master Gardeners have had a busy couple of weekends. Last week we were out at beautiful Magnolia Gardens for their Autumn on the Ashley event. The MG's were selling plants from the nursery I work at. I had picked them out and passed the word around to all pertinent people. I got a reply back rather quickly that I should investigate and check on one of the plants I was planning on bringing. It is considered an invasive species and we DO NOT want to be known for spreading a bad plant around.
Well, they were half right. The plant that is invasive is Nandina domestica. I was bringing Nandina domestica 'Firepower'. A dwarf version. I will go through some of the differences here.
Also known as heavenly bamboo, and despite the common name, it is not a bamboo at all. Nandina is an evergreen or semi-evergreen woody shrub often used in landscaping. It is a native of China and Japan.
Reaching heights of 6-8 feet tall, it is a very elegant and lacy plant. The dwarf plant only reaches 2-5 feet tall.
Preferring reasonably rich soil, it does not thrive in sand. Nandina can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 4-10. It can take heat and cold, from 110 degrees to 10 degrees. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and requires moderate to low water. It knows practically no pests unless it is extremely stressed. Leaf spot diseases can cause the lower leaves to drop from the plant in the humid regions of the nation. The disease appears to be most severe on plants grown in partial shade where the foliage can remain wet. It is one of the toughest and most adaptable plants in a variety of conditions.
'Firepower' Nandina is a noninvasive selection of the invasive ornamental, Nandina domestica, as determined by the University of Florida/IFAS Infraspecific Taxon Protocol, which is a a tool to evaluate invasiveness of cultivars and varieties. The regular Nandina is listed as a Class I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council which means that it is "actively disrupting plant communities" It produces seeds which are spread by birds ingesting them. It also spreads slowly by underground rhizomes. 'Firepower' is propagated asexually via division, cuttings or tissue culture. While not considered rhizomatous, the "crown" of 'Firepower' Nandina can increase in diameter with time. Regular Nandina domestica has naturalized and invaded habitats all over the Southeast.
I think the Firepower is much prettier anyway, especially in the Fall. The leaves turn a fire red, hence its name.

Regular Nandina is a little more plain:
Plus, you see it has the berries.
We went ahead and sold the dwarf 'Firepower', it actually sold very well, once we explained to people it would not be taking over their yards. With all this being said, many cultivars have been developed for size, berry color, and Fall and Winter leaf color, and are available at nurseries.
I am still in the thinking that invasiveness is a state of mind, to some degree. I can make the argument for just about any plant. Crape Myrtles here in the South are practically a staple in any yard, I call them crap myrtles. I see seedlings popping up all over the place in my yard, yet they are revered as the most beautiful thing this side of the Mason Dixon line. My Nandina is just sitting in the corner, minding its own business, and it has the same moniker as a serial killer.....where is the justice?!
Happy Growing!


  1. I have the firepower and its been alright... not so bright as that, but at least not invasive. Good to have you back!

  2. Great plant tips. This is the perfect season for red plants with Christmas around the corner, red and green are perfect theme colors.

  3. Darren welcome back! I was wondering just yesterday what happened to you. Firepower was a wash for me..too dry here?...only tried it once, but couldn't find a place it liked. I'll try again sometime. Certainly, to be invasive, it has to survive more than three winters.