Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) is not really a type of bamboo at all. It is a member of the Berberidaceae family, making it a relative of such plants as barberry (Berberis), barrenwort (Epimedium), and Mayapple (Podophyllum). The "bamboo" in its common name comes from the appearance of its stems, which remind us of bamboo canes. But it is cultivated for its spectacular foliage, not its cane-like stems. Unfortunately, Nandina can be an invasive plant in some regions.
If you would like to grow Nandina but are wary of introducing an invasive plant into your landscape, rest assured that there is a solution. Learn all about the non-invasive cultivar of the plant referred to as 'Firepower' Nandina (Nandina domestica 'Firepower').
It is a dwarf cultivar, making it a great choice for small yards and tight spaces. It also tolerates drought well once established.
If you are looking for beautiful foliage in all seasons, this is a great option. It is lime-green in spring (with tinges of red), light-green in summer, bright red in fall, and it will remain red in winter in zones 8 and 9.
This shrub is relatively free of pest and disease problems and even performs reasonably well under trees.
Firepower Nandina can be used in a number of different ways in the landscape. For all its uses, you will be most satisfied if you plant it in a mass, rather than installing a single plant here and there. It is commonly used as a ground cover, due to the dwarf stature of the cultivar and as a shrub border. It's also a good choice in woodland gardens (due to its shade tolerance), in foundation planting, and as an edging plant or in a low hedge.
|Botanical Name||Nandina domestica 'Firepower'|
|Common Name||Firepower Nandina, heavenly bamboo, sacred bamboo|
|Plant Type||Broadleaf shrub; is evergreen in the American Southeast, where it is especially popular|
|Mature Size||1 to 2 feet in height, 1 to 2 feet in width|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil Type||Average fertility and moisture, well-drained|
|Bloom Time||Non-flowering variety|
|Flower Color||Non-flowering variety|
|Hardiness Zones||6 to 9|
|Native Area||Eastern Asia|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets and birds|
Firepower Nandina Care
Firepower Nandina is a low-maintenance plant. It does not require pruning. In fact, you will be happier with the plant if you leave it alone and let it assume its natural shape. Just prune off brown leaves or dead branches when you see them for cosmetic purposes.
Firepower Nandina will tolerate quite a bit of shade. But be aware that its foliage color and its flowering tends to be superior in full sun. The exception to this rule comes in zone 9, where the plant can profit from receiving some afternoon shade.
The main soil requirement for Firepower Nandina is to avoid alkaline types. The leaves tend to develop chlorosis in such soils.
Water young plants sufficiently to get them established. Once mature, they can are known for being fairly drought-tolerant.
Fertilize your Firepower Nandina regularly to promote optimal foliage color. Use a general-purpose fertilizer meant for shrubs. Apply the fertilizer once in early spring and again in early summer.
Varieties of Nandina
Most varieties of heavenly bamboo have racemes of white or light-pink flowers that are succeeded by red berries. The berries are a particular major selling point. Unfortunately, you miss out on both of these features with the Firepower cultivar. But that is a trade-off that gardeners concerned about invasive species are willing to make.
Another way in which Firepower differs from the typical heavenly bamboo shrub is in size. While Firepower is a dwarf, many types of Nandina grow to be between four to eight feet tall and two to four feet wide at maturity.
Here are some of the other cultivars of Nandina worth considering, with their dimensions and noteworthy traits:
- Nandina domestica 'Moyer's Red': four to six feet tall and wide with light-pink blooms
- Nandina domestica 'Richmond': five feet tall and wide. It is a particularly good berry producer
- Nandina domestica 'Gulfstream': three feet tall and wide with coppery foliage (with orange tints) in spring, bluish-green foliage in summer, and reddish-orange fall foliage