3 Steps to Pruning Nandinas

3 Steps to Pruning Nandinas

The other day I took a walk around my neighborhood and spotted these nandinas right around the corner:

Do yours look like these? And if so, why for Heaven's sake does your nandina look like these?? I am here to tell you, you don't want nandina topiaries. Years ago I read an article in Southern Living magazine by Steve Bender (aka The Grumpy Gardener ) about how to prune your nandinas. It's simple, and you can commit it to memory like I did:
  1. Cut 1/3 of the stems all the way down to the ground. Now, be sensible — spread these out a bit!
  2. Cut another 1/3 of the stems about halfway down. Again, spread them out.
  3. Leave the final 1/3 alone.
Now stand back and look at your handiwork. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? I once had a client who said, "I don't think you trimmed those nandinas at all!" That's because you don't want these plants to look pruned, you want them to look thinned out and balanced. Using the 1/3 method ensures that you will thin out the thicket without creating the foliage-on-top-of-sticks, as in the pic above. Now, grab those pruners and go and and thin those nandinas! And for Heaven's sake, don't tell my neighbor that I took a pic of their pruning job.

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  1. Verna Heimbinder says

    What month should Nandina’s be pruned?
    Many thanks for your help. Verna Heimbinder
    We live in Hendersonville, NC 28791

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  3. Myrna says

    Jenny, my nandinas look MUCH worse than your neighbors! Very leggy – some top heavy to the point of falling sideways.
    I’ve always heard you should prune nandinas from the base, and this would force new growth from the base.
    If I understand you, I’d trim them in different heights – which would leave stalks with no leaves. Would these then add new leafing on these bare stalks?
    And when should this be done?
    Thank you!

  4. Kathy says

    Help – just noticed that my normally full nandinas (about 3-4ft. High) are looking nasty. They are all bark, escritoire for the tops!! What do I do? I can only think of trimming them down and letting them come back in but I’m open to any suggestions, please!!
    Thanks, Kathy

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