Nandina domestica 'Aka' BLUSH PINK
Common Name: heavenly bamboo
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Berberidaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Some tolerance for full shade, but foliage often grows best in sun with some afternoon shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers rich, moist, humusy ones. Best with consistent watering. Established plants have some drought tolerance. Best fruiting occurs when grown in groups. Single specimens may fruit poorly. This shrub is evergreen in the warm winter climates of USDA Zones 8-10. In the St. Louis area, it is considered to be semi-evergreen to deciduous because plants will typically lose their foliage (become deciduous) as soon as winter temperatures dip below 10 degrees F., with the stems sometimes dying to the ground. Plants are not reliably winter hardy to the St. Louis area, and if grown therein, should be sited in protected locations with organic winter mulches applied.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Nandina domestica, commonly called heavenly bamboo, is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that is ornamentally grown for its interesting foliage and its often spectacular fruit display. It is native to Japan, China and India. This is a rhizomatous, upright, evergreen shrub that typically grows to 4-8’ tall and to 2-4’ wide. In St. Louis, it is semi-evergreen to deciduous, and typically grows shorter since the stems often will die to the ground in winter. Although it belongs to the Barberry family, it is commonly called heavenly bamboo because its erect, cane-like stems and compound leaves resemble bamboo. Tiny whitish flowers with yellow anthers appear in late spring in loose, erect, terminal clusters. Flowers are followed by sprays of spherical, two-seeded, red berries which persist from fall to spring, providing winter interest.

Heavenly bamboo tends to invade adjacent lands including certain forested areas of the southeastern U.S. and naturalize therein. It is now considered to be an invasive species in some southern states.

Genus name is the Latinized form of the Japanese name of this plant Nanten.

Specific epithet means domesticated.

'Aka', commonly sold under the trade name of BLUSH PINK, is a non-flowering sport of Nandina domestica 'Firepower'. It was discovered growing at the tissue culture facility of Magnolia Gardens Nursery in Magnolia, Texas in November of 2004. It is a compact form that grows to only 2.5' tall and to 3' wide. It does not produce flowers or fruit, and is basically grown for its attractive foliage. New growth leaves of BLUSH PINK emerge blush pink in spring and retain that color throughout summer and fall. It takes a full year before the new growth leaves finally lose their pink color and mature to deep green. From spring to fall, foliage contains green mature leaves topped by pink new growth leaves. Foliage of the plant generally turns red in winter. By contrast, Nandina domestica 'Firepower' leaves emerge lime green and remain green until winter. Cultivar name of Aka means red in Japanese in obvious reference to leaf color. It should be noted that the year-round multi-colored foliage display of BLUSH PINK can be best appreciated in USDA Zones 7-10 where plants are evergreen, but usually comes up short in the St. Louis area (USDA Zone 6) where plants are only semi-evergreen to deciduous. U. S. Plant Patent PP19,916 was issued on April 14, 2009.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage may develop chlorosis in alkaline soils.

Garden Uses

Plant form, foliage, fall color make this an interesting ornamental for the landscape. Group or mass for best effect. Shrub borders or open woodland gardens. Foundations. Good in informal settings. Can be used as an informal hedge in warm winter climates where it remains evergreen and does not die to the ground.

Excellent edger because of dwarf size.