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Nandina is a do-it-all.

IN TERMS OF STAMINA and garden usefulness, nandina simply excels. It's quite drought tolerant (many do well on rainfall alone), is relatively hardy, grows in sun or shade, and makes a fine filler in bouquets. This month, it shows off another attribute: it begins to blush with redness in upper leaves or (depending on variety) all over.

Winter leaf color and plant height (1 to 6 feet) are two variables you can use to select from among the 15 or so varieties on the market. Expect dramatic winter color from these five: 'Gulf Stream', 3 feet high; 'Harbour Dwarf', 2 feet; 'Moyers Red', 5 feet; 'Nana', 1 foot; and 'Umpqua Warrior', 4 feet.

November is the ideal time to plant. The shrubs are sold in 1-gallon cans (costing $4 to $8) and 5-gallon cans ($14 to $28).

Nandinas do well in sun or shade. They color best in sun but need some shade in hot-summer climates.

CHECK THESE STRENGTHS

It's almost as though this native of Asia were engineered to face some of Western America's toughest garden challenges. Last winter's big freeze showed nandina to be quite hardy. Temperatures must drop below 5[degrees] to 10[degrees] to kill it, and even then plants sometimes recover.

Nandinas are generally deerproof (a deer has to be very hungry to munch one). Plants resist oak root fungus, and insects and mites leave them alone.

In the residential landscape, nandinas can serve at least five purposes: they can form a hedge or screen; they can give light, airy, vertical effects; they work in narrow, restricted areas; they look handsome and grow well in tubs or as bonsai; and they're dramatic with night lighting.

WHAT ABOUT PRUNING?

If at shopping time you manage to match the height of your nandina variety to the job that you want it to do, you may be able to let the planting go for decades with little or no pruning. But if the variety and its landscape assignment were mismatched and some of the stems continually get too high (underneath a window, for instance), cut those ones every year or two.

When you prune, remove all dead, fatigued, or overgrown canes by cutting right at the ground. Nandinas do not make new growth below mid-stem cuts as a privet or pittosporum would.

Want an example of a stem to remove? Look at the foliag puff standing above the others in the hedge shown above. The hedge would be neater if the puff's overly tall stem were cut out. Best time to prune is in spring, after new growth has formed.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:garden plant
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:432
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