Question of the Week – Number One: January 21, 2021

There is so much to love about nandinas in winter. They provide color and textural interest for many months.

“How can I prevent nandinas from spreading? I love their look, color and texture, but I need to keep them in bounds.”

The original landscaping nandina was commonly called “heavenly bamboo,” no doubt in at least some reference to its similarity of canes, but also due to its tenacious root systems.

Yes, my friend, the plants do spread.

It’s nice when you have a landscape planting that can supply more plants for another part of your gardens. These Compacta nandinas were the source of additional plants for another bed. You can see the transplants on the ground in the foreground of the photo. The remaining “mother” plants were trimmed back to even things up. Within a few months they looked as good as new.

If you want more nandinas, that works to your advantage, because you can harvest the excess with your sharpshooter spade at this time of the year. You merely dig up the new plants around the perimeter and move them into the new planting bed. Within a couple of years they’ll look like they’ve been growing there forever.

Retaining wall ledge is the perfect containment system for this planting of Compacta nandinas. (These were the transplants harvested in the photo above 8 or 9 years earlier.)

But if you ever want to contain them, you’ll probably need some type of deep edging. I’ve used a sharpshooter to dig a trench 12 inches deep, and I’ve put corrugated fiberglass in place vertically, overlapping the pieces by two or three ripples. I bring it up to within about 1/2-inch of the surface of the soil so that it’s not visible, and it does a great job of keeping the roots where they need to be.

Continued Below

For what it’s worth, I’ve also used a variation of that same technique to prevent the spread of other plants such as garden mint and Mexican petunia.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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