Heavenly bamboo, part of the barberry family of plants and not actually a bamboo, got its name from vertical canelike stems and finely textured compound leaves that resemble those of its namesake plant. This broadleaf evergreen shrub is typically grown for its ornamental foliage and striking fruit display. The tough-as-nails shrub thrives in a variety of conditions. Add it to a shrub border. Plant it by a foundation. Grow it in a container outside or bring it inside as a houseplant. Heavenly bamboo does it all.
Heavenly bamboo is known for its softly textured, colorful foliage. As leaves first emerge, they appear reddish pink. As they mature, the coloring transforms to a soft bluish green that makes a soft, neutral backdrop for brighter plants. The real show begins in the fall, though. Although heavenly bamboo may drop its leaves in colder climates, this shrub takes on flaming-red fall color in warmer areas. Unlike burning bush, which drops its red leaves in late fall, the vibrant foliage of heavenly bamboo stays through winter. Heavenly bamboo also bears spikes of white blossoms in spring that give way to sprays of glowing red berries in winter. Both the foliage and the berries make great additions to winter arrangements.
Heavenly Bamboo Care Must-Knows
Heavenly bamboo performs best in rich, moist, well-drained soil and full sun, which encourages the best growth, foliage color, and fruit set. Plant this shrub in groups to get the best fruiting. Although it does best with consistent watering, heavenly bamboo can tolerate some drought after it's established. Heavenly bamboo looks its best when allowed to grow naturally. If you decide to prune, however, trim the branches in a staggered fashion to retain a fuller-looking habit.
Risks and Rewards
Weigh the pros and cons before planting heavenly bamboo. Although it performs well, this easy-to-grow plant bears bright red berries that are toxic to many birds. Those that survive eating the berries spread seeds through droppings, which can lead to heavenly bamboo popping up where it's not wanted. In fact, this evergreen shrub is listed as an invasive species in several southern states. It's also shade-tolerant, which means it's capable of invading forests. In addition, heavenly bamboo's tough, vigorous roots make it difficult to eradicate once you've planted it. Any root segment left behind after the shrub is removed can become a full-blown shrub.
More Varieties of Heavenly Bamboo
Dwarf Heavenly Bamboo
Nandina domestica 'Pygmaea', also known as 'Nana', is noted for its dense, mounding foliage and small size. It doesn't produce much fruit. It grows 2-4 feet tall. Zones 6-9
'Fire Power' Heavenly Bamboo
Nandina domestica 'Fire Power' forms a 2-foot-tall mound. The fine-texture leaves turn deep red in winter. Zones 6-9