Musa Basjoo and Other Flowering Banana

Even though it is a tropical, gardeners far north as Connecticut can grow this cold-hardy banana species. The plant is known botanically as Musa basjoo. The banana gets about 10 feet tall and adds great interest to the landscape.

Its cold hardiness makes it possible to grow bananas throughout the Northeast, allowing gardens to look like tropical a paradise. Though it may be hard to believe, well-mulched Japanese fiber bananas are known to return from minus 20 degrees.

The flowers are among the most beautiful and exotic, but don't start counting on a harvest -- these bananas probably won't bear fruit in the northeast area Zone 6.

Most gardeners and garden centers do not know about the Japanese fiber banana yet, but I predict they will soon. We offer over 7 Varieties of Musa that will thrive in the northeast and they come back stronger every year.

Plant the Japanese fiber banana in the spring after the soil has warmed and threats of freezing weather has past. Full sun and fertile, well-drained, organic-rich soil is needed for both vigor and cold hardiness. Amend the soil if needed with 3 to 4 inches of compost or humus and till to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.

For beds with bananas, add three pounds of a slow release 2-1-2 or 2-1-3 fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed space. Sometimes these formulas are hard to find. If you can't find this ratio fertilizer, use three pounds of a 12-6-6. Plant the banana at the same depth it is growing in the container.

Bananas are heavy feeders and need light, monthly applications of fertilizer and plenty of moisture. Keep them well mulched.

Winter Care Once the foliage has been frosted cut them at the very bottom and mulch over. Wait till spring and remove the mulch on top they should start popping in a few weeks growing very fast all summer long. Just remember to keep feeding them throughout the growing season.

Uses for Musa Use the Japanese fiber banana to add coarse-textured foliage to the perennial or cottage garden, transforming it into the look of the islands. Plant them around swimming pools, water gardens, and next to the deck, porch or patio. Grow with other tropical's like elephant ears, hibiscus and allamandas.You will notice that Japanese fiber banana plants produce suckers. Divide these suckers to place in other garden locations or you can give some to me.

The Japanese fiber banana is sold generically and usually comes with a tag that says Musa basjoo or basjoo. Look also for the yellow Chinese wax banana Musella lasciocarpa, which is cold hardy throughout zone 6. We also carry a few Flowering bananas like Musa Velutina, Musa Beccari and Musa Sikkimennis.

Here is a picture of Musa Basjoo in august 2007 at Tucked Away Farms Califon NJ