Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) is not really a bamboo. It is a member of the barberry family and there are enough varieties to fit any size place. The plant is evergreen in the south and semi-evergreen in the north.
The plant has a light and breezy appearance. It will grow from 6 to 8 feet tall, but for those who have a small area to fill like under a window where you don’t want a hedge too tall or for under large shade trees, there are several Dwarf varieties available. Try Harbor Dwarf which grows up to 3 feet tall.
Heavenly bamboo is one of the most colorful plants. In addition to the bright, green leaves the plant produces small white flowers growing in large, arching clusters at the tips of the plants in the winter time in areas not subject to frost and in the spring in those that are. The flowers are followed by large clusters of green berries that ripen to bright red and make a good meal for the local bird population. Add to that the bright yellow stems and branches and you have one very colorful, attention getting plant.
Plant heavenly bamboo in a rich, moist soil. It is very adaptable when it comes to sun, being able to take full sun, partial shade or full shade which is why it is able to be used in such diverse locations. Heavenly bamboo is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9.
As with most things in nature, there are negatives to consider. The plant sends out suckers that can interfere with the growth of other plants. If you choose one, be sure to keep the suckers in check by cutting them off as soon as they appear. Putting an edging around the plant helps also. And there is the option of growing them in tubs or containers. If you are in doubt, contact your local cooperative extension service
Use the plant in front of a light colored building for some good color contrast. Plant a group of three around the corner of a building . Use the dwarf varieties in groups of three at the corner of a lawn. I can be mixed with other shrubs to make a mixed hedge, but keep an eye on those suckers.