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Publication #ENH1116

'Firepower' Nandina (Nandina domestica): A Noninvasive Nandina for Florida1

Gary W. Knox and Sandra B. Wilson2

Description

'Firepower' nandina is a noninvasive selection of the invasive ornamental, Nandina domestica, as determined by the UF/IFAS Infraspecific Taxon Protocol, a tool to evaluate invasiveness of cultivars and varieties. 'Firepower' nandina is a low-growing, broadleaf evergreen shrub characterized by upright, cane-like stems that emerge from a crown-like structure at the soil surface (Figures 1 and 2). Pinnately compound leaves with broad leaflets are clustered at terminals. Growth is dense and compact, resulting in the overall effect of a mounded plant form.

Figure 1. 

New growth of 'Firepower' nandina is lime green.


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Figure 2. 

Summer leaves of 'Firepower' nandina are light to medium green, often tinged with yellow or red.


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UF/IFAS research in north and south Florida showed that 'Firepower' nandina does not flower or fruit (Knox and Wilson, 2006). In addition, it differs from the species type ("resident species") of Nandina domestica in being distinctly compact, significantly shorter and in having broader leaflets that typically are lighter green in summer and more red in winter. While not considered rhizomatous, the "crown" of 'Firepower' nandina can increase in diameter with time.

Ornamental Characteristics

New growth of 'Firepower' nandina is lime green aging to light or medium green (Figure 1). Foliage may be tinged yellow or red, especially in summer (Figure 2). Low temperatures in fall and winter result in outer leaves of 'Firepower' nandina turning burgundy to brilliant red (Figures 3–5). This coloration often persists until new growth flushes in spring.

Figure 3. 

Outer leaves of 'Firepower' nandina turn red in winter with the onset of cool temperatures.


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Figure 4. 

The bright red foliage of 'Firepower' nandina is very attractive in fall and winter.


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Figure 5. 

'Firepower' nandina is used here as accent plants along the home's entry walk.


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'Firepower' nandina grows to be 24–60-inches-tall and is considered a medium-size cultivar. Often it is marketed as "dwarf" because it is distinctly shorter than the standard species type and is slower growing. Annual plant growth of 'Firepower' nandina is 4–6 inches. Typical mature specimens of 'Firepower' nandina are 24-inches-tall and wide. Specimens aged 17 years at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum (Raleigh, NC) were just 36-inches-tall and 50-inches-wide.

Uses

'Firepower' nandina is widely planted in masses as a shrubby groundcover. In addition, it may be used as an accent plant or in borders and foundation plantings (Figure 4). Its primary ornamental features are the finely textured foliage, compact form, colorful new growth and red foliage in winter. 'Firepower' nandina is commonly used in north Florida, less used in central Florida and rarely used in south Florida landscapes.

Culture

'Firepower' nandina grows best in moist, fertile soil under light shade. It tends not to persist in full sun or dry soils unless it is mulched and irrigated regularly. 'Firepower' nandina is otherwise tolerant of most soil types. Furthermore, it is considered pest free and does not require pruning. As with the standard species type, 'Firepower' nandina is hardy within USDA Hardiness Zones 6–10. 'Firepower' nandina is propagated asexually via division, cuttings or tissue culture.

History

Sometimes listed as 'Fire Power', 'Firepower' nandina was allegedly derived in New Zealand as a sport from the cultivar, 'Nana Purpurea', also known as 'Atropurpurea Nana'. 'Firepower' differs from 'Nana Purpurea' in having broader leaflets that are not contorted, presumably because 'Firepower' nandina is virus free. 'Firepower' nandina was introduced into the United States sometime before 1985.

References

Dirr, M. 2002. Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR.

IFAS Invasive Plant Working Group. 2008. UF/IFAS Assessment of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas. http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/, Accessed 21 November 2008.

Knox, G.W. and S.B. Wilson. 2006. Evaluating north and south Florida landscape performance and fruiting of ten cultivars and a wild-type selection of Nandina domestica, a potentially invasive shrub. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 24:137-142. September 2006.

Langeland, K.A. and K. Craddock Burks. 1998. Identification and biology of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas. UF/IFAS Distribution, Gainesville, Florida.

Raulston, J.C. 1985. Some new plants received in the NCSU Arboretum. Friends of the Arboretum Newsletter 13. December 1985. http://www.ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum/publications/newsletters/ncsu_arboretum_newsletters/News13_85-12.html, Accessed 5 February 2008

Roethling, J.L., C.T. Glenn, and F.T. Lasseigne. 2003. Long-term evaluation of Nandina domestica cultivars at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Proceedings of the Southern Nursery Association Research Conference 48:373–378.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH1116, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2009. Reviewed March 2015. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Gary W. Knox, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, North Florida Research and Education Center; and Sandra B. Wilson, associate professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Indian River Reserach and Education Center; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.