When I was a child, spending summers with my grandmother in rural Virginia, I paid little attention to the dozens of nandinas that lined her huge U-shaped driveway.
Now, I fondly recall their white spring flowers, lime-green summer foliage and red winter berries.
For years, I've touted the perfection of nandinas for any yard style or growing condition.
As my gardening friend Les Parks at Smithfield Gardens in southeastern Virginia says, "If you can't grow a nandina, you can't grow anything."
Typically, nandinas are the standard Nandina domestica, nicknamed "heavenly bamboo," because they produce suckers that quickly turn into tons of baby plants.
Nandinas, which survive almost all cold-hardy and heat zones, are no-nonsense plants because they thrive in all growing conditions — sun or shade, wet or dry soil. They know no real pest or disease problems. They can be used as stand-alone specimen plants, as hedges with eye-catching seasonal interest or as bank-erosion controllers. Standard nandinas are best pruned in late winter or early spring to keep them vigorous; otherwise, they get too tall and leggy and bare at the bottom stems.
Today, there are dozens of new varieties of nandinas — some with flowers and berries, some with just fancy foliage.
The newest one is Blush Pink nandina from the Southern Living Plant Collection, which bears no flowers or berries, just exotic foliage that changes colors. Learn more about the Blush Pink nandina at Southernlivingplants.com.