How to Plant Nandina


If you are looking for a shrub that flowers in full sun or shade, consider nandina. Nandina grows upright to between 2 and 8 feet with a spread of 3 to 5 feet, depending on cultivar. Deep green foliage gives way to white florets that bloom in summer, followed by tiny red berries that develop well into the winter. Nandina thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9, where the winter temperatures remain above -10 degrees F. Plant nandina shrubs in well-drained, acidic soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Pitchfork or sharp spade
  • Soil testing kit
  • Lime or peat moss
  • Garden hose
  • Break the soil up to 15 inches deep using a pitchfork or sharp spade. Test the pH of the soil afterward, using a soil testing kit. Nandina prefers soil with a pH between 3.7 and 6.4. If the pH of your soil is out of range, amend as necessary.

  • Amend the soil with lime if the soil test shows a reading below 3.7. If the soil test produces a reading above 6.4, use peat moss instead. Read the manufacturers label on the required amendment and follow the instructions on applying the amendment.

  • Dig the planting hole for your nandina. The hole should measure twice the width of the root ball. Keep the depth of the hole equal to the height of the root ball. If you are planting more than one nandina shrub, space the holes at least 36 inches apart.

  • Slip the nandina out of its nursery container and place it in the center of the hole. Take a good look at the nandina before backfilling the hole and make sure all foliage is above the soil line. If not, add some soil to the bottom of the hole to raise the shrub up. Backfill the hole and pat the soil around the main stem with your hands to remove trapped air.

  • Water the nandina immediately after planting. Soak the soil deeply. Provide at least 1 inch of water every week with a garden hose, except when the weather is especially wet. Nandina can tolerate drought but not overly wet soil.

Tips & Warnings

  • A 3-inch layer of bark mulch spread around the base of the nandina shrub will help reduce weed growth. Mulch will also improve drainage.
  • Give nandina shrubs a dose of rhododendron fertilizer after the first year of growth. Spring is the best time to fertilize. Consult the instructions on the fertilizer’s label for allocation amounts and application methods.

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