Every so often, a plant comes along that makes you question whether it’s actually real or not! Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ seems like some mythical being with it’s unusual pink leaves, which later transform to pillar box red. It’s an incredible show off. Well, as the saying goes ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’…
Nandina is also known as the Sacred Bamboo, and I’ve seen the common variety used quite often as a landscaping plant in China, where it’s ethereal presence can be very zen. ‘Blush Pink’ is far from being zen however, it’s a riot of colour! In fact, the leaves go through a fascinating colour-changing process that takes one whole year!
It may look like a diva, but it really isn’t
Usually when something looks this good, it might have an attitude, but not so with Nandina. It is extremely low maintenance and offers colour in the garden all year round, a rarity for most garden plants. There’s no chance of downtime for Nandina ‘Blush Pink’!
It’s a plant that isn’t as well known in Europe as it should be, but we think that’s about to change. Landscapers and home gardeners are looking for worry-free pops of colour, and there’s much development behind the scenes with colourful foliage shrubs such as Nandina.
Nandina is not at all related to Bamboo either, that name comes from the resemble of the foliage to some bamboo. It’s actually more closely related to that hedging favourite, Berberis. Well, I think the Berberis now has some stiff competition sine Nandina came onto the scene.
Plants are also extremely hardworking, establishing on many different soils, and stay resistant to rabbits and deer!
How was this plant created?
Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ was selected from a batch of another variety of Nandina, which was named ‘Firepower’. As occurs in nature, a batch of many thousand plants can show some variation, and that’s often called a ‘sport’. Employees at the Magnolia Gardens Nursery in Texas were eagle-eyed enough to detect the fun flamingo look of the plant and alerted their head plant guy, Neil Marek. That ‘lucky break’ went on to become ‘Blush Pink’!
What’s different about this plant?
It is not new for a Nandina to have deep red or pink foliage, but it is different for that foliage to keep it’s colour as it ages. Most varieties revert to green within a month or two. ‘Blush Pink’ goes through a yearly cycle instead; the fresh shoots opening pink in the spring, turning red for the summer, and then to even deeper red for the autumn. The transformation completes during the winter months, as they finally turn green. However, the new leaves then go through that same colour parade, covering over the older green ones!
Where can you plant Nandina ‘Blush Pink’?
Despite having an ultimate height of 1 metre, this Nandina fits container culture well as well. To some degree, you can trim the plants to fit the space, so you’ll find that Nandina can also be used as an informal hedge that will never need trimming. In the border, your Nandina will enjoy any type of soil (as long as it’s moist and well-drained), and a sunny border. Do try to avoid a windy spot, though!
Where can you buy this plant?
After being noticed as different and unusual, ‘Blush Pink’ was put through rigorous trials to see if the colour would continue to behave the way it had initially. Thankfully, the plant sailed through the 4 year trial and propagation testing process with flying colours, and was soon flying off shelves in garden centres in the USA, Europe and Australia!
Plants are available in garden centres across Europe, or by mail order from a range of outlets.
How to grow Nandina ‘Blush Pink’:
Flowering time: July to August
Location: Border, hedging, patio pots
Soil: Moist, but well-drained
Light: Prefers full sun
Hardy: Survives down to -15C! Plant will come back every year.
Care: Very easy pruning, just trim as required, after flowering
Size: 90cm (36”) high x 90cm (36”) in spread
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe. Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ was selected by Neil Marek at Magnolia Gardens Nursery.
It can actually be quite easy to spot new plants, as nature often does the breeding work for you! Natural variation is referred to as a ‘sport’, or you may find a new hybrid has appeared in your garden by itself. To hunt down these new plants, it’s all about noticing differences. Make sure you take time out to get to know the plants in your garden, and if any seem different to the norm, let me know!
See every Plant of the Month here.