Sichuan Hardy Banana, Basjoo Banana Tree
Item #: 3064
Zones: 7a to 10b, possibly colder
Height: 240" tall
Recent research has shown that Musa basjoo, the world's hardiest banana species, is actually from Sichuan, China and not Japan. This 16-20' slowly spreading species makes a thick green stem that sports 6' long, narrow, green leaves arching from the top of the solid green trunk. The flower emerges from near the top of the stem like a yellow-orange torpedo. After the flowers open, you will be blessed with clusters of small, yellow, 2" long bananas. Forget eating this one...just enjoy the tropical look and tease your neighbors. We recommend a good mulch in colder regions until your clump becomes well-established.
Sichuan hardy banana is a very low maintenance perennial. If winter temperatures drop below 15 degrees, it will die to the ground. We recommend removing the old stalk to the ground in early spring. If your winter temperatures remain above 15F, it will most likely regrow from the same stalk, so all you'll want to do is remove the dead foliage at the top of the stalk.
In the garden, your banana will actually spread underground, albeit slowly. Each stalk will flower once then die, being replaced by several other stalks, each of which will be farther away from the original planting. When these spread outside of the area you have designated, they will need to be removed, since they can consume a fairly large area. They make great gifts for other gardening friends, best moved in either spring or summer.
Hardy bananas prefer lots of moisture and nutrition, so plenty of compost will result in the best growth. Although they grow best in full sun, they will grow okay in light shade to a couple of hours of filtered sun. In most likelihood, they will not flower in these conditions. They are drought tolerant for short periods, but this will not result in good long term growth.
Basjoo banana tree adds a tropical, bold texture to the garden, and is great where an attention-drawing feature plant is desired in the landscape. Although it can produce bananas, if there are two flower heads open at the same time for cross-pollination, they are full of large seed, and would be only considered edible if you were starving on an abandoned island.