Musa Basjoo FAQ
A. Musa basjoo is a herbaceous perennial. Although we call it a banana tree, this refers to its tree-like stature. It doesn’t produce a woody trunk so technically it isn’t a tree.
Q. Is it hardy?
A. It’s root hardy. In an exceptionally severe winter like 2009/10 it may be reduced to ground level if unprotected, but will produce new stems from the base in spring/summer. However, if you take the time to wrap it, this will usually offer enough protection to preserve the trunk through the winter.
Q. How fast and how big will it grow?
A. Musa basjoo is extremely fast growing. A small plant can reach 3m in as many years, ultimately scraping the sky at 5m.
Q. Will it grow in a pot?
A. Almost any plant can be grown successfully in a pot and provided it is supplied with adequate food and water and re-potted when required, it makes a fantastic pot plant. However, its size may be restricted in a pot.
Q. Does it need sun or shade?
A. Either, although the leaves grow much bigger and are a darker green in some shade.
Q. How much food and water should I give it?
A. Plenty. It’s a greedy plant and loves moist but not waterlogged conditions. Yellow leaves are a sign that its hungry, and slow growth is often due to lack of water during the growing season. Plants in the ground benefit from a liberal dose of manure at planting time and annually thereafter. Plants in pots can be fed weekly during the growing season with a high nitrogen feed.
Q. Why are the leaves on my newly purchased banana turning yellow?
A. When you first take your Musa home from the nursery - where it has been grown under glass, and place it in an open garden it understandably feels a little shocked and needs to adjust to the change in light levels, temperature and wind. The new leaves, when they appear, will be greener and stronger.
Q. Will it produce bananas?
A. There’s a good chance that a specimen that’s several years old will produce a bunch of bananas - always a thrilling sight, but not very palatable. However, Musas are monocarpic, meaning they die after producing fruit. All is not lost though as a plant of this maturity will have produced several good sized ‘pups’ or offsets. Simply cut down the old stem after flowering.
Q. How do I wrap it?
A. After many years of experimenting with different materials and techniques we’ve found the best way is to use horticultural fleece and straw. Make a tube with the fleece by folding it and fastening with staples. Place this over the stem and stuff with straw. Place a plastic bag over the top to prevent rain getting into the stem.
Q. When do I wrap it?
A. Don’t be in too much of a hurry. The aim is to keep it under wraps for as little time as possible to prevent rot. Wrap after the leaves have turned brown and limp in the first frost.
Q. When do I unwrap it?
A. We unwrap at the beginning of March. Frosts after this time will not be severe enough to damage the stem.
Q. Do you think it will grow too big for my garden?
A. Oh don’t be ridiculous.