Pruning a Dwarf Nandina - Knowledgebase Question

Oklahoma City, OK
Avatar for rdhois
Question by rdhois
March 21, 1998
We planted two dwarf nandina bushes last year, one on either side of our 3-step entry way. They have grown quite a but, but are looking rather unkempt. Right now, they are approximately 18" high and 24" in diameter. We have some large shrubs on the lateral sides of the Nandina bushes. They are in mound formation right now. Also, they seem to have leaves at the last 1/3 of their branches, and not on the rest. They are not very pretty right now. I don't know what form they should take or how to get them into proper form.

Answer from NGA
March 21, 1998
The best time to prune is late winter/early spring, before the shrub starts to grow. Nandina's growth habit is to produce tall, branchless stems that grow from the basal crown - it can't be trained to a softer, mounding habit like your other shrubs. To prune, cut one-thrid of the oldest, sprawling stems right back to the ground annually. It's not evergreen north of USDA Zone 8, and you're in Zone 6 or 7, hence the leaf drop. To grow healthy, vigorous, and attractive, it requires a deep, rich, moist soil.

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