banana

Wouldn't you like to visit the tropics? Why not bring the tropics to you? With their giant leaves and palm-like structure, banana plants are a key element to adding a tropical feel to your garden.

All bananas are tropical in origin, but some are hardy enough to grow in the ground where summers are hot, and winters don't dip below zero. We refer to these as Hardy Bananas. Bananas that are more tender to cold are referred to as "tropical". Both can be grown successfully in Portland, they just require different care during the winter. Both types of bananas grow fast and produce big leaves, and if summers are long and hot enough, we may see flowers as well. Sadly none of the bananas can produce edible fruit in Portland; our hot season is just not long enough.


Hardy Bananas

Musa basjoo

Musa basjoo: Japanese Fiber Banana

Musa basjoo is a key element in the hardy tropical garden with its lush green leaves and palm-like structure. Cool yellow flowers appear in summer and small seedy fruits may develop if conditions are right. It grows from the ground to 10 feet tall in one season, and if trunks are sustained during winter they can reach 15 feet.

Maintenance

To maintain trunks during winter, cut them down to 2-3 feet in late fall and lay the leaves around the base of the trunk. Add straw or another mulch that doesn’t hold excessive moisture to prevent trunk rot. Wrap the trunk with breathable insulating fabric like frost blanket or burlap (no plastic). In spring when new leaves appear in the center of the trunk, remove protective fabric. Pips (new baby bananas) appear at the base of the main trunk in spring and in no time your single plant can easily become a grove.

Big leaves can be tattered when whipped around in the wind, so site Musa basjoo in a spot that's wind protected.

Facts:

Origin - Ryuku Islands, Japan

Soil - rich and moist

Water - once a week during warm months

Fertilizer - Bananas are heavy feeders, so fertilizing will help the plant to stay healthy, particularly when grown in a container. Choose a fertilizer that is slightly higher in nitrogen than the other components in the NPK ratio, and use a water-soluble fertilizer if the plant is growing in a container. There are many fertilizers that will do a good job - just follow the directions on the package closely.

Light - full sun to part shade

Hardiness - roots are hardy to -10f

Musella lasiocarpa

Musella lasiocarpa: Golden Lotus Banana

Musella lasiocarpa comes from mountainous regions of Yunnan China. It's a shrubby banana with large blue-green leaves and exotic gold flowers that often bloom after the second year.

When garden space is limited but bananas are still wanted, Musella is a good choice, as it grows 4-5 feet. Trunks can be protected in the same way as Musa basjoo, or allowed to freeze to the ground and come back from the roots each year.

Because it is naturally multi-stemmed, it will be hard to train Musella with a single trunk.

Origin - Ryuku Islands, Japan.

Soil - moist, rich and well-drained.

Water - once a week during warm months

Fertilizer - Bananas are heavy feeders, so fertilizing regularly will help the plant to stay healthy, particularly when grown in a container.

Choose a fertilizer that is slightly higher in nitrogen than the other components in the NPK ratio, and use a water-soluble fertilizer if the plant is growing in a container. There are many fertilizers that will do the job, just follow the directions on the package closely.

Light - full sun to part shade.

Hardiness - Zone 7, 0-10f.


Tropical Bananas

Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelli'

Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelli': Abyssinian or Red-leaf Banana

Nothing says exotic like the Red-leaf Banana. Huge long leaves are lush green with vibrant red reverse, midrib and accents. Growth is very fast! If conditions are right, it can grow up to 20 feet! Big leaves can be tattered in high winds, so wind protection is important.

Facts

Origin - Tropical forests of Africa

Soil - moist, rich and well-drained

Water - once a week during warm months if planted in the ground. In containers, water until you can see water draining from the bottom of the pot, then do it again. Frequency depends on temperatures and how much root mass has developed. Keep roots moist but not soaked.

Fertilizer - Bananas are heavy feeders, so fertilizing regularly will help the plant to stay healthy, particularly when grown in a container. Choose a fertilizer that is slightly higher in nitrogen than the other numbers in the NPK ratio, and use a water soluable fertilizer if the plant is grown in a container. There are many fertilizers that will do the job, just follow the directions on the package closely.

Light - full sun to part shade

Hardiness - Z9, 20-30f - This banana is not hardy in Portland, so special measures should be taken to keep it alive through cold winter months.

Find the Perfect Shrubs for your garden

Read up on some of our favorite shrubs and remember, this is only a smattering of the variety of shrubs we carry all year long! Note: Viewing a Native Plant will take you into our Native Plant section.

Abelia

Abelia

Natives

Arbutus: Pacific Madrone

Natives

Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood
Natives

Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazelnut
decid-rhod

Deciduous Azalea

Bamboo

Phyllostachys: Bamboo

Banana

Banana

Buddleia

Buddleia: Butterfly Bush

Callicarpa

Callicarpa: Beautyberry

Camellia

Camellia

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

Natives

Native Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Chaenomeles

Chaenomeles

Flowering Quince
Chimonanthus

Chimonanthus: Wintersweet

Clethra

Clethra: Summersweet

Perennials

Coprosma: Mirror Plant

Cornus

Cornus: Red Twig Dogwood

Corylopsis

Corylopsis: Winter Hazel

Corylus

Corylus: Filberts & Hazels

Cotinus

Cotinus: Smoke Tree

Daphne

Daphne

Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia

Chinese Paper Bush
Elaeagnus

Elaeagnus

Silverberry & Goumi Berry
Gardenia

Hardy Gardenia

Natives

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Hamamelis

Hamamelis: Witch Hazel

Heathers

Heathers & Heaths

Hebe

Hebe

Hedges

Hedges

Natives

Holodiscus: Oceanspray

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Itea

Itea: Sweetspire

Lagerstroemia

Lagerstroemia: Crape Myrtle

Lonicera

Lonicera: Honeysuckle

Natives

Mahonia: Oregon Grape

Natives

Osmaronia: Indian Plum

Palms

Hardy Palm

Natives

Philadelphus: Mock Orange

Bamboo

Phyllostachys: Bamboo

Physocarpus

Physocarpus: Ninebark

Natives

Native Physocarpus

Western Ninebark
Punica

Punica: Pomegranate

Natives

Rhamnus: Cascara

Ribes

Ribes: Currant

Natives

Native Ribes: Wild Currant

Natives

Rosa: Wild Rose

Natives

Rubus: Salmonberry

Willow

Salix: Willow

Sambucus

Sambucus: Elderberry

Natives

Native Sambucus: Elderberry

Sarcococca

Sarcococca: Sweet Box

Natives

Symphoricarpos: Snowberry

Lilac

Syringa: Lilac

Vaccinium

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Natives

Native Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Viburnum

Viburnum: Arrowwood

Natives

Native Viburnum trilobum

Cranberrybush