Nandina domestica 'Tuscan Flame'
Common Name: heavenly bamboo
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Berberidaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy
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.

'Tuscan Flame' was discovered by Robert Tancredi in 2000 as a branch sport on a plant of the species Nandina domestica. Its new foliage emerges and remains scarlet red throughout the year with the underlying mature foliage a yellow green. Patent information states that its leaves are more finely divided than the species producing a lacy effect. It has short-stemmed panicles of off-white flowers that are borne on two to three year old growth. Both the flowers and the resulting small red fruits are generally hidden within the leaves. 'Tuscan Flame' has a compact bushy habit growing 3 to 4 ft. tall and 2 to 3 ft. wide. U.S. Plant Patent #21,940 awarded May 31, 2011 to PlantHaven International Inc.

Problems

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

Plants tend to be invasive in the South.

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.

Spring flowers and fruit make this an interesting ornamental for the landscape.