Growing Heavenly Bamboo

Latest Update 31st January 2016.

Heavenly Bamboo (Dwarf).

  • An evergreen plant in a warm temperate climate, this low growing shrub is not related to the bamboo family.
  • It is extremely hardy and almost indestructible.  Mine has survived about 20 years of neglect and at least 3 relocations.
  • Its a pretty plant and deserves better treatment.  Perhaps now I'm retired I will find time to indulge it.
  • Young leaves in spring are bright pink to red before turning green; old leaves turn red or purple before they die.
  • Its leaves are toxic to small animals and when they decompose produce hydrogen cyanide which is very poisonous to humans.  You should take precautions when handling this plant.
Details.

  • Binomial Name:                                      Nandina Domestica.
  • Family:                                                    Berberidaceae
  • Garden bed type:                                     Drip line irrigated. 
  • Recommended soil pH:                             6.5 - 7.5.  
  • Plant Spacings (centres):                          300mm. 
  • Climate:                                                  Warm Temperate.
  • Geography:                                             Southern Hemisphere. 
Growing Conditions:

  • They need plenty of sunlight to prosper, but will tolerate at least partial shade.
  • They are very drought and heat tolerant.
  • They survive in poor soil, but benefit greatly when fed with compost once a year, and are grown in moist soil.
  • Always minimise soil disturbances to maintain a natural soil structure.  
Soil Preparation.  

  • Prepare a new bed for them in spring by removing old mulch, fallen leaves and other decaying organic material and disposing of them in the compost heap.  
  • Apply a 60mm thick top dressing of home made compost, and add a handful of blood and bone fertiliser per square metre and cover with fresh straw mulch.
  • Do not dig the soil.
  • Leave for 4 weeks so worm and microbe activity can build up in the soil.  Remove the mulch before planting your Heavenly bamboo plant in Spring.
Propagation.

  • Propagate Heavenly bamboo by taking cuttings from new growth as soon as the new shoots are big enough.
  • Using sharp disinfected secateurs, take a 100mm cutting from just below a node on a current years stem.
  • Remove the leaves from the stem leaving only 2 or 3 at the top to continue to grow and feed the plant.
  • Plant the cutting in a medium size pot containing organic seed raising and cutting mix.  Soak the pot in 10mm deep dilute seaweed extract for an hour. 
  • Transfer the pot to an Eco propagation bed and bury it 15mm deep in the sand.
  • Pot up to a larger sized pot as required and keep the plant protected from frost during winter.
  • Replant each new Heavenly Bamboo plant in the prepared bed after all danger of frost has passed during the following spring. 
Growing Instructions 

  • Apply a foliar spray of activated aerated compost tea every month when the edible plants are sprayed and remember to spray the plants in the propagation unit.
  • In winter clear the ground of waste organic material and spent straw mulch beneath the plant and dispose of it in the compost heap.
  • Feed the soil surrounding the plant in late winter by applying a dressing of about 60mm deep homemade compost and cover it with about 50mm of fresh straw mulch.
  • Remove any dead branches and tidy up the shape of the plant, but there is no need for any significant pruning.
  • Spray the foliage of the plant with aerated compost tea every month at the same time as the edible plants are sprayed.
Organic Pest Control. 

  • General.
    • I have not been aware of any pest problems with my Heavenly Bamboo in the 20 years I have had it.  However sensible preventive measures like regularly spraying the plant with aerated compost tea will boost their natural defences by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  These microbes defend plants against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes and defends roots against plant pathogens.

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