By Karen Chapman, Le jardinet
Feature Plant: Lemon Lime nandina (Nandina domestica 'Lemon-Lime')
Zesty shades of lemon and lime are the perfect introduction to wake up your tired container gardens and landscape designs. Lemon Lime nandina makes it easy. The new, evergreen foliage emerges bright lemon-yellow before maturing to a pleasing shade of lime. Yet, unlike most other varieties of nandina, this does not turn red, even in winter.
Lemon Lime nandina retains its compact, mounding shape, and its delicate dissected leaves are a welcome variation from fine grasses and bolder foliage textures, making it easy to incorporate into new or existing designs.
Accepting both full sun and partial shade, this versatile, evergreen shrub is sure to become a favorite. Here are two ways you could use it to update your pots and borders.
Wake Up Call
Use the vivid chartreuse foliage of Lemon Lime nandina to add the element of surprise to an otherwise conventional container design.
Select a glazed turquoise container, encrusted with barnacle-like details as the inspiration for a design featuring a monochromatic selection of silvery-blue conifers, perennials and annuals. Shown here are Blue Star juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’), Silver Swan spurge (Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’), Silver Veil hellebore (Helleborus ‘Silver Veil’) and Silver Falls dichondra (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’). Introducing the finely textured ruby-red blades of Hot Rod switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Hot Rod’) and the fan-shaped burgundy and green foliage of Crimson Fans mukdenia (Mukdenia rossii ‘Crimson Fans’) will add contrast. The color echo between these two is evident, yet the design still falls short of remarkable – rather like an interior design that is so focused on color repetition that the overall composition is dull and unsurprising. When Lemon Lime nandina is introduced, however, the combination is transformed from predictable to exceptional – thanks to the unexpected, vibrant splash of citrus.
In the heat of summer, this design would benefit from full morning sun and afternoon shade to protect the hellebore and mukdenia from scorching. In the cooler temperatures of spring or fall (as shown here), all these plants will do fine in full morning sun and dappled afternoon sun.
A similar effect to this container design could be created in the landscape. A backdrop of tall Shenandoah switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’) would establish height, the red-tipped foliage turning deep burgundy in fall. Shenandoah is a little taller than the variety Hot Rod, so would be a better choice for this landscape design. Weave together groups of Lemon Lime nandina, Silver Swan spurge and Blue Star juniper in front of the grasses to create a tapestry of evergreen foliage in shades of blue, lime and creamy-white. Finally, a carpet of low growing succulents in burgundy and silver would complete the scene. Dragon’s Blood sedum (Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’) and Capo Blanco (Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco') are two that would work well. They could be allowed to mingle or kept as discrete color blocks according to your design preference.
This vignette could easily be scaled up or down to suit any size border and the drought tolerant plants would all thrive in a sunny location.
Cultural Details for Lemon Lime nandina
Hardiness: USDA zones 6-10, Sunset zones 3 (with protection), 4-33
Light: Full sun, part shade
Water: Low once established
Mature size: 3-4 feet tall and wide