dark evergreen leaves of the banana shrub are
taller than the nearby lamppost and serve as the
perfect complement to the fiery fall foliage.
past two months have been weeks of tantalizing fragrance
that I am afraid not many children or families have
experienced. This champion of aroma I am referring to is
the banana shrub. The banana shrub is an heirloom from
the 1800s and produces extremely sweet aromatic blossoms
for months. It is one of the more amazing scents in the
funny how we all can fall under the spell of a smell.
For me it was the night jasmine for others it is a
gardenia or perhaps an old garden rose.
gardens become like recording studios making imprints on
our children's and grandchildrenís memories, of what
life was like at that particular time, what Mom and Dad
or the grandparents were like. I know without a doubt my
children will want to grow the night jasmine and when it
blooms they will think about it out by the pool when
they were young or how it got hammered by the tornado
but survived as did the family huddled in the closet.
visitors to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens will
approach our 9-foot tall specimen and because of the
olfactory experience remember both the garden and the
family trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the
I attended Texas A & M we were taught the banana
shrub botanically speaking was Michelia figo with it
residing in the Magnolia family. Now it is actually
Magnolia figo and obviously in the Magnolia family. It
is cold hardy in an area running from Dallas Forth
Worth, Texas through the middle of Arkansas up to
Raleigh and Richmond, Va., though gardeners are touting
a variety named Skinneriana as being a little superior
in bloom and offering slightly more cold hardiness
throughout zone 7. Then there are many gardeners who
relish the fragrance to the extent they choose to grow
it as a movable container plant.
large specimen started blooming in January this year and
then a lot of buds were hammered by 25-degree weather in
mid-March. It has bounced back, is loaded up with blooms
and giving a welcome royal treatment to tour groups and
visitors as we head into April.
banana shrub is native to China and will be quite at
home in your garden possibly reaching 15 feet tall and
around 10 feet in width at maturity. In our area,
though, they are most commonly 8 to 12 feet tall. It can
grow in full sun to part shade but in the Deep South, a
little afternoon shade protection gives a lusher plant.
This heirloom is deserving of being planted in a
prepared fertile shrub bed that is moist and slightly
acidic. We have ours in partnership with tropical
looking fatsias and a nearby Chinese pistache that gives
a fiery orange contrast in the fall compared to the dark
evergreen leaves of the banana shrub.
they are large you may not have a need to cluster three
together but that would certainly work if you had the
space available. Probably the most important
consideration after soil, sunlight, and available water
is to grow them where they can be enjoyed. Ours is close
to a gazebo that seems to always have a visitor, you
may, however, want yours close to the patio or deck or a
bedroom window that you are prone to open in the
evening. If you are into homegrown fragrance make the
banana shrub a part of your landscape.