Nandina domestica, Sacred-Bamboo, 'Heavenly- Bamboo seeds

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Nandina domestica, Heavenly-Bamboo seeds


Nandina domestica belongs to the Berberidaceae, the barberries. N. domestica is native to Japan and China. There it occurs until 600 m above sea level. It is also known as sacred- bamboo and heavenly bamboo. Although it is known as sacred- “bamboo”, it has nothing to do with bamboo. Bamboo belongs to the family of the Poaceae, the grass family. Nandinia domestica is the only species in the genus Nandina. In 1800 the heavenly bamboo was introduced in the USA. The heavenly bamboo grows as a shrub that reaches a height of about 2 m. The shrub has more than one trunk. The young leaves of the heavenly bamboo are red in the beginning. They get green when the leaves get older. The leaves of the heavenly bamboo are bipinnate. The whole pinnate leave reaches a length of maximal 50 cm. The leaflets are elliptic and filigree. They get 3 to 7 cm long. In fall the leaves get wonderful brightly red. The leaves do not fall down in fall; they stay over winter at the shrub and get green again in spring. That is one of the reasons why the sacred- bamboo is a popular ornamental plant. It is a wonderful plant in the garden in winter. The flower of the heavenly bamboo is slightly rose or white. They get 6 mm in diameter and are clustered in panicles. One panicle contains up to 100 flowers. The stamina are brightly yellow and clearly visible. The heavenly bamboo is diecious meaning that female and male flowers are on different individuals. One needs always to plants for reproduction. The fruit of the heavenly bamboo is brightly red and round. They stay very long at the plant. Each fruit contains 1 to 3 seeds. The fruits are distributed by birds. In the USA also raccoons and opossums were observed eating and distributing the seeds. In the USA the sacred- bamboo distributes very fast. One should avoid uncontrolled distribution if one cultivates the sacred bamboo outside. The fruits are not edible for humans. In Europe the heavenly bamboo is popular for designing Japanese gardens.



The seeds of the sacred- bamboo should be planted 0,5 to 1 cm deep into the substrate. The seeds in the substrate should experience a cold period. This can be done in the fridge. The germination success raises after the cold stratification. At a temperature of about 20°C after cold stratification and constantly moist substrate, germination occurs. The seeds of the heavenly bamboo vary strongly in their germination time. It can last up to half a year until the first seedlings are visible. N. domestica is winter hardy. It can tolerate temperatures down to minus 15°C. Nevertheless it should be kept inside during the first winter.

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