Garden Inventory is a series where I begin an inventory of all the plants and trees in my garden. Along with some of my own pictures, I will link to various sources of information about each plant and tree so we can learn a little more together.

I would also like to highlight your special plants and tress. Pass along your favorite plants in the comments and I will use them for future Garden Inventory posts. — Douglas

Garden Inventory: Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo)

Nandina is a incredibly common landscape plant here in Southern California although it looks as if it were in favor more in the past then currently. Older properties like mine usually have it somewhere in the yard or garden. In my case I have probably removed 4-6 plantings of Nandina over the years, but there are still these two, along with two more in another part of the  garden. This garden was originally themed as an Japanese garden, so the Nandina would have been an integral part of the look when planted by the previous owners.

Nandina and Bricks - 7

Nandina and Bricks - 16 Nandina and Bricks - 10 Nandina and Bricks - 3 Nandina and Bricks - 2Nandina and Bricks - 1 Nandina and Bricks - 11

Photos of Nandina plant with closeups of leaves, new and mature fruit, and new growth

For me, Nandina is a “set it and forget it” type of plant. It doesn’t really require much care or feeding, or even water. It doesn’t grow too quickly or too large. Nandina is not really a bamboo at all, but I am sure it’s similar appearance to traditional bamboo led to its common name. While Nandina is not as invasive as some bamboos can be, it is still classified as invasive in many area of the United States. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, it was first imported from China to the UK in 1804 as a landscaping plant. Nandina grows as a clump and does not spread quickly at all. It doesn’t need much pruning, if any at all and usually looks nice, if a bit unexceptional, no matter where you plant it. 

I had never known it, but the plant is somewhat poisonous, although supposedly non-toxic to humans, but could be considered toxic to cats and grazing animals.

Here in Southern California, Nandina provides lovely red berries to use as Christmas decorations, since holly does not grow well at all here in Los Angeles, despite the name of Hollywood just over the hill from us. The developers of Hollywoodland discovered this to their detriment when they tried to plant holly as part of this housing development.

Nandina can be useful if you are looking for a well-behaved shrub that can function in shade or sun. It can be a place holder until you find a more decorative plant or a filler for larger areas such as along fences. 

More information on Nandina domestica:

Previously on Garden Inventory: