What A Terrible Shrub!

Nandina 'Firepower' as a fluffy hedge:
Nandina 'Firepower' photo nan6382_zpsa43c1f34.jpg
According to a University of Florida article, Nandina 'Firepower' has been cultivated in the US "since before 1985".  The article goes on to say that 
'Firepower' Nandina was allegedly derived in New Zealand as a sport from the cultivar, 'Nana Purpurea', also known as 'Atropurpurea Nana'.

I've read a few comments from gardeners in the Southeast that this is a horribly over used shrub that everyone is tired of.  Here, I don't see it often.  Perhaps it is because it is a terrible shrub.  For one thing, it forms a rounded globe of dense foliage about 24" tall and wide without any pruning or trimming or cleaning.  The foliage gracefully drapes right down to the ground without any effort on the part of the gardener.  It can be planted to form an informal low, well-behaved hedge with no need for much maintenance.  Now who would want that?
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For another thing, it doesn't bloom or produce seeds, so you can't deadhead it or spend hours pulling up unwanted seedlings.  We all know how fun that is.  I live for pulling up unwanted seedlings--don't you?  The roots doesn't spread everywhere, either, unlike Nandina domestica.

Insects and diseases don't like it, and the rabbits around here don't seem interested in it, either.  Pitiful.  Just pitiful.
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It doesn't need much water.  It is happy with neglect.  For shame! 

 It's also easy to move because the root system is reasonably modest and well-behaved, and the plant is tough.  If you want a new plant, you can dig up an old one, split it in half and voila, now you have two plants.  Isn't that awful?  
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In colder climates, autumn frosts will turn the foliage a brilliant red.  Here without frost that doesn't happen, so you must make do with an elegant mix of light and dark green and touches of orange and red.  Terrible.  Look at how it pairs with Aeonium 'Kiwi'.  Disgusting. 
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My plants came from a round-robin plant trade--a man had dug them up, thrown them in the back of his truck, and brought them.  They were dumped on the concrete, potless, their fine roots baking in the heat.  I thought they'd be dead in a few days, but planted them anyway.  My unbelievable bad luck.  That was ten years ago.  I've moved them a couple of times.  They went an entire summer with no water.  The puppies have dug them up, and I replanted them.  They've survived it all.

What a terrible shrub.  Why would anyone want to grow them?


  1. They sound perfect to me. :)
    xoxoxo ♡

  2. Hah! Great post, I loved it.

    1. Thanks. It really is a good plant.

  3. I like all varieties of Nandina, and recently planted this particular variety. Your post title drew me in, great post.


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