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Why Is My Nandina Losing Its Leaves – 3 Reasons Why!

Nandina is an evergreen shrub that features white flowers, red berries, and pinnate leaves. This bushy shrub can be a dramatic addition to be your garden. You can also grow it in containers. Whatever option you choose, a Nandina plant will always add an exotic touch to your home. When something happens to the plant, the question ‘why is my Nandina losing its leaves?’ can pop up.

Most times, an icy temperature is causing your Nandina to lose its leaves. However, there are several other reasons why. To learn more about what could be causing the fiery Nandina to lose its leaves, this article will explore the obvious reasons and provide you with solutions. When this article comes to an end, you’ll be able to stop the leaf loss on your Nandina plant and have it thrive again.

Why Is My Nandina Losing Its Leaves
Nandina Gulf Stream losing its foliage – via Reddit

What are Nandina Plants?

Nandina is a part of the Berberidaceae family. Most people know it as the Heavenly Bamboo or the Sacred Bamboo. However, its scientific name is Nandina Domestic. Despite its other names, Nandina does not belong in the bamboo family, nor does it have similar leaves.

This plant is durable and tough; it can grow up to 4-8 feet high and 2 to 5 inches wide. Nandina comes in different varieties that can serve as a foreground plant in the landscape. However, most people grow it in a container so that it can add texture and color to walkways, patios, and decks.

Nandina is winter hardy and one of the few plants tolerant to high and low temperatures. Once you successfully plant it, it requires very little care and pruning to make an attractive addition to your home. They feature beautiful lacy foliage, and they look their best in the winter or fall. Sometimes, the foliage of a Nandina can take on autumn colors like pink, bronze, red, and even orange.

Some varieties include:

  • Blush Pink: This variety usually starts pink but turns green as it matures. During fall, it takes on a red color. Blush Pink Nandinas don’t have fruits or flowers.
  • Burgundy Wine: Most people know this plant for its narrow and delicate leaves. It features green and red foliage, making it an excellent choice for mass planting.
  • Fire Power: This is the commonest variety of Nandina. It usually starts reddish and then becomes fiery scarlet in the fall. It is non-invasive and provides long-season colors, making them ideal for groupings.

Although there are more Nandina varieties, these are the most typical option. Knowing the variety of Nandina you have can help you care for the plant better to grow healthy.

What are Nandina Plants
Nandina domestica – via Wikimedia

Why Is My Nandina Losing Its Leaves

There are very few reasons why a Nandina plant loses its leaves. This section will explore these reasons and how you can solve them to get your Nandina healthy again.

Cold Temperature

Although Nandina and its varieties are evergreen shrubs, they can lose their leaves if the temperature falls below 10 degrees. A Nandina plant prefers to live in a sunny area. It also thrives excellently in a partly sunny area which means it will do just fine in partial shade.

Although they can still withstand low temperatures, it is only for a short time. Afterward, your plant will become deciduous. If the location is freezing or too windy, your Nandina plant will lose its leaves.

How to Fix Nandina Losing Its Leaves Due to Cold Temperature

The first step plant owners should take if they notice that their Nandina plant is losing its leaves because of cold temperature is to move it to a sunnier temperature. If it’s in a windy location, provide shelter from the wind. In such a situation, your plant needs direct sunlight to recover.

Therefore, If you plant Nandina in your garden, you should place it on the west, south, or east side. This will allow your plant to get enough sunlight. Experts clarify that the perfect location for Nandina plants in autumn is a sheltered spot. However, it requires direct sunlight when it can get in the wintertime.


Another likely answer to the question ‘why is my Nandina losing its leaves’ is drought. Like most houseplants, Nandina also sheds its leaves in low water situations. If your leaves begin to fall, another reason could be underwatering your plant.

Nandina usually doesn’t require frequent watering as it is susceptible to root rot. However, when you neglect the plant completely, it can begin to shed its leaves.

How to Fix Drought in Your Nandina Leaves

Once you confirm that your Nandina is losing its leaves due to drought, it’s time to water your plant. First, you need to check if the soil is dry by dipping in a finger. If it comes out entirely dry, then your Nandina is experiencing drought. Next, use a soaker hose to provide the Nandina with water if you plant it in the garden.

For potted Nandina plants, you can put water in a tray and place the pot on the tray. Nandina doesn’t require much water, so you need only water enough to keep the rootball and the surrounding soil damp. Deep soaking the Nandina plant and letting the plant dry out a bit before watering again is better than splashing water on it every day.

Sometimes, it is best to prune the plant to improve its appearance. Take note of dead and diseased shoots when you’re watching. Doing this ensures that the new sprouts are healthy. Afterward, water your Nandina leaves.


If none of the reasons above answer the question ‘why is my Nandina losing its leaves,’ it might be a virus. Nandina is susceptible to some plant viruses, which could cause discoloration and distortion to the leaves. It could also lead to the leaves falling out. These viruses are parasitic entities that affect plant cells.

How to Fix Nandina Losing Its Leaves Due to a Plant Virus

If your Nandina plants suffer from a virus, the only way to deal with the issue is to tackle the plant virus is by removing the infected plant. This will prevent the virus from reaching other plants. You can then propagate new Nandina plants from seeds; viruses rarely spread through the seeds.

Also, ensure you propagate the new seeds from healthy plants. As they grow, keep them far from weeds as these can cause a new infection of your plants.

Final Thoughts

Nandina isn’t immune to issues as attractive as it can be. Although they’re hardy plants that require little care, a Nandina plant can lose its leaves. If you’re asking ‘why is my Nandina losing its leaves,’ the answers below will help you figure it out.

The solutions above will also work to get your plant healthy again. Ensure your plant is always in a sunnier sheltered environment, keep the watering to a minimum and prune it when necessary. This way, your fiery Nandina will bloom for many years.