Even though they are fighting with tree roots, these Nandinas always look good Photo: My Nandina thicket brightens up the woods and screens an ugly view, all while fighting mature tree roots.

Melissa’s Nandina post is right on target!  Nandina was the  very first shrub that I brought to my garden–and all these years later it’s probably the most useful shrub I have.   Here’s why I love Nandinas-

Tough as nails.  They will grow in sun, shade, bad soil, dry soil .   They will probably grow at the gates of hell (along with Iris–but the two might look like hell together).  I have dug up Nandinas of all sizes in all seasons–and they all survived.  If you have a tough spot, plant a Nandina there. 

They multiply making them the ultimate cheap plant–though  some people think they multiply too much.  The red berries are seeds, and they sprout all over.      I have seen Nandina on at least one list of invasive plants for the South, but at my house, it’s easy to control.   And I don’t see Nandina popping up in the woods, or choking trees  like some other rampant imports from  Asia–Hall’s honeysuckle and kudzu come to mind.   So I don’t feel bad about growing Nandina–but I am very careful about what I put in my yard.    Do pay attention to Melissa’s warning–Some plants don’t belong in your garden.  I am still digging up lirope…but like Melissa’s English Ivy,  that is another story. 

Nandinas make great screens–That is their real beauty in my garden.  Over the years, I have grouped  my Nandinas in two patches.    One screens  an ugly wood pile, the other  buffers my neighbor’s drive.  As seedlings pop up around the yard, I transplant them to my Nandina thickets , or give the extra plants  away.  

Two notes on  Nandina culture–

While they don’t need pruning, Nandinas can get top-heavy with lots of leggy stems.  I solve this problem by occasionally cutting some of the stems (maybe two or three on a big plant)  close to the ground.  When they sprout, you’ll have a  fuller look. 

And finally–Nandinas  look great in summer, fall and winter, but  can make for some bad color clashes in Spring.  Keep those bright red berries and bronze foliage  away from pink bloomers and you’ll have a plant that always looks good.