Heavenly Bamboo - (Nandina domestica 'Compacta') - Information & Care Instructions

Posted on 2 Sep 14:50

HEAVENLY BAMBOO (Nandina Domestica “Compacta”)


Nandina domestica is commonly known as Nandina or Heavenly Bamboo.  In Japanese it is called Nanten or Sacred Bamboo.  Heavenly Bamboo is a suckering shrub in the Barberry family. Native to eastern Asia from the Himalaya east to Japan, this tough evergreen has fine lacy foliage which turns bronze and red in winter. In spring the young leaves turn a brightly colored pink to red before turning green. Old leaves turn red or purple again before falling.
Heavenly bamboo has numerous, usually un-branched stems which grow up straight up from the roots. These characteristic, cane like stems and compound leaves, resemble bamboo; hence its nick-name.
The flowers are white, blooming in late spring or early summer, in conical clusters held above the foliage. In summer clusters of bright green berries appear; by late summer the berries ripen to a bright red. Birds seek out the berries for food in the winter. However you should keep in mind the berries are mildly toxic to pets and livestock.
Heavenly Bamboo can be grown outdoors in Zones 6a to 10. When grown outdoors it is considered an evergreen in the warmer winter climates of USDA Zones 8-10. In cooler climates it is considered to be semi-evergreen to deciduous. This means that this plant will typically lose its foliage during winter in cooler temperatures. The canes may die back as winter temperatures dips below zero. As a Bonsai, with less soil around the roots; the plant is more sensitive to the cold. We recommend this plant be treated as an indoor bonsai in climate zones below Zone 8.

How To Take Proper Care Of Your Indoor Bonsai Tree
Bonsai is the reproduction of natural plant form in miniature. This art form has its origin in Japan and China where it has been practiced for centuries. Bonsai are grown in pots and are totally dependent on you for their care. With proper care, your bonsai will remain healthy, beautiful and miniature for many years to come.
Since your bonsai is a living miniature tree, it will increase in beauty as it matures through the years. The instructions below are just the basics and, therefore, we recommend that you purchase one of the many fine books available on the subject.

The Heavenly Bamboo will thrive indoors in high light; it also appreciates being kept outdoors in either full or partial sunlight during the spring and summer.
When night time temperatures drop below 50 degrees we suggest that you bring your tree indoors and place the tree on a windowsill or on a table in front of a window.

If you have had your Heavenly Bamboo outdoors, once nightly lows begin to dip, it is time to prepare for winter. You have choices. If you are in warmer climates (Zones 8 – 11); treating your Heavenly Bamboo as an outdoor bonsai; you can allow Heavenly Bamboo to go semi-dormant, which it will do naturally. Make sure it is positioned so it is watered naturally.
Remembering, if the plant gets too cold it will loose its leaves. Since Bonsai have so little root protection you my want to prove some protection against unexpected lows; mulch or another form of protection around the pot may be appropriate. You can also move your Heavenly Bamboo indoors after 3 months of temperatures in the 50’s; keeping it indoors until spring.
In colder climates (below Zone 8), where you are treating your Heavenly Bamboo as an Indoor Bonsai; which you may or may not have move outdoors for the summer; allowed the plant to go semi-dormant by placing the plant indoor on a northern windowsill where it will receive minimal sunlight. If possible, place it in a room which can be kept cool (perhaps 50-55 degrees). Water the plant approximately every 7-10 days. After this resting period, 3 months or so; move it to a warmer location with more light (southern exp.) Increase the watering and feeding schedule accordingly.

The watering of your bonsai must never be neglected. Apply water before the soil appears dry -- never allow the soil to become completely dry. It is a good idea to use a moisture meter until you get to know the requirements of your bonsai tree. Water should be applied until it begins running out of the holes in the bottom of your pot. It doesn’t really matter “how” you water your tree, but rather that when you are finished the tree has been well watered.

During the cold months, when your bonsai is inside, we recommend placing it in a shallow tray filled with a layer of gravel with water added. This provides extra moisture around the tree as the water evaporates and reduces the amount of moisture lost to modern heating systems.

Fertilizing is also necessary if your bonsai is to remain healthy and beautiful. Since your bonsai is growing in such a small amount of soil it is necessary to replenish the soil's supply of nutrients periodically. Any general-purpose liquid fertilizer will do fine and is available at most garden centers. We suggest that fertilizers be used at half their recommended strength. Fertilizer should be applied at least once a month except during winter. Your bonsai will also respond well to foliar feeding, with a water-soluble fertilizer applied every other month as a spray.

This brief explanation of basic care does not cover training. Training deals with the art of bonsai and should be thoroughly understood before undertaking -- or left to a professional. However, most of the true bonsai trees you find have already been through their training period, thus requiring only periodic trimming and pinching to remain miniature.

Trimming and pinching keep your tree miniature. Pinch and trim back the new growth to the farthest safe point. Never should all of the new growth be removed. A little should be left to sustain the health of the tree. Tropical and sub-tropical trees used for bonsai will require periodic pinching and trimming throughout the year. Since different trees grow at different rates, it is necessary to evaluate each tree’s rate of growth and adjust your trimming and pinching to accommodate it.

Repotting must be performed periodically on all bonsai when their root system has filled the pot. The reasons for repotting are to supply your tree with fresh soil, and to encourage a more compact root system. As a rule, most deciduous trees require repotting every two or three years, while evergreens only need to be repotted every four or five years. Since trees grow at different rates, this schedule will not always hold true, therefore, you should examine your tree's root system each year to determine if it has become pot-bound.
In most cases, the potting process is easy and safe if performed properly and at the right time of the year. Repotting should be done in mid-summer. The tree, along with all of its soil, should be removed from the pot. The outer and bottom most fourth of the tree's root mass should be removed. This is done by raking the soil away, then pruning back the roots. In most cases, it is not good to prune back more than one fourth of the tree's root mass. After this, the tree can be placed back in its original pot or into another. The pot should have screen placed over the drainage holes. Then a thin layer of small gravel is placed in the bottom of the pot for drainage purposes. On top of this gravel is placed the new fresh soil. Place a layer of well-draining soil which is sufficient enough to elevate the tree to its previous height in the pot. After placing the tree back in the pot, the area left vacant by the pruned root mass should be filled in with fresh soil. This fresh soil should be worked in around and under the root mass in such a manner as to avoid leaving any air pockets. After repotting, your bonsai should be thoroughly watered. This can be achieved by submerging the entire pot in a tub of water. Moss or other ground covers can be used to cover the surface of the pot to help prevent soil erosion when watering.

Since your bonsai is a tree in miniature, it can be treated for insects and diseases the same as any other tree. If you discover any insects or diseases, visit our website where you will be able to obtain the necessary products to eliminate the problem.