How to Prune Nandina Domestica Guide
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How to Prune Nandina Domestica

This easy step by step guide with pictures shows how to prune nandina domestica in your home garden. Nandina is also known as sacred bamboo, Chinese bamboo and heavenly bamboo although it isn’t actually a bamboo.

Nandina is an evergreen shrub that will produce bronze to red leaves in the spring darkening to green as they age. In the summer and fall spikes of flowers appear followed by striking red berries in some varieties.

There are many varieties available ranging from the dwarf nana to royal princess which grows up to 8 feet tall. Taller varieties can be kept pruned to your required height.

Nandina is a hardy shrub that will grow in a wide variety of climates tolerating temperatures between −10 to 110 °F (−23 to 43 °C). Nandina will also tolerate drought conditions well however it can be invasive with runners forming under the ground.

Planting Nandina

Keep in mind the invasive runners when deciding where to plant your Nandina domestica. It is best to put in a deep barrier around the edge of the plot to keep it contained.

The foliage and berries of nandina are toxic to animals and will need to be kept out of reach. However, it does make a good deterrent for ferrel animals you are trying to keep out of your yard such as deer and rabbits. It is generally considered non-toxic to humans.

Nandina Domestica Berries are toxic to animals and birds.

Some varieties of nandina may be banned in your area so it is always wise to check with your local authorities before choosing a variety to plant in your garden. Birds have been known to spread the berries so it may be wise to choose a variety that produces few berries or prune the spent flower spikes before the berries form.

Pruning Nandina

It is best to prune in late winter to encourage bushier growth and to keep your shrub to the required height. Pruning during the warmer months may result in fewer flowers.

Nandina Domestica before pruning.
Nandina Domestica before pruning.

Tools Needed

  • Pruners – These ratchet pruners from Amazon are easy on your hands. (Paid link)
  • Loppers
  • Pruning Saw (Paid link)
  • Wheelbarrow or Bucket


Time needed: 30 minutes.

How to Prune Nandina Domestica

  1. Remove Dead Wood

    First look for any dead wood then cut out with either a pruning saw or loppers. Cut as close to the ground as you can. Place cuttings in a wheelbarrow or bucket so you won’t have to pick then up later.

    Removing old wood from a nandina with loppers.

  2. Decide on the Height of the Bush

    Next decide on the height you want then look for a node at that height on each branch. There will be new growth forming from each side of that node.

    New growth appearing from a previously pruned nandina.

  3. Cut Back the Branches

    Cut the branch just above the node at an angle so the rain will run off the cut. This will prevent disease.

    Pruning back the branches of a nandina domestica.

  4. Assess and Finish

    Continue cutting along the top of the branches then stand back to assess your work. Once you are happy with the shape and look of your bush dispose of your cuttings.

    Nandina Domestica after pruning in the winter.

Looking for a compost bin? Try this tumbling compost bin, great for beginners. (Paid link)

Can I Compost Nandina Cuttings?

The nandina leaf cuttings can be put in the compost but the berries should be placed in a black plastic bag then put in the bin to stop them from germinating new plants. Old wood can be used as kindling in your fire.
Don’t be tempted to give the cuttings to your chickens as they are toxic to both animals and birds.

Do you have more bushes that need pruning? Try this guide to pruning bushes, pruning crepe myrtles or pruning oleanders.

Are you interested in growing your own food? Try this Homesteading guide.

To Save or Print this guide on how to prune nandina domestica, click the button below for the PDF File.

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