coarse texture or bold foliage of the banana has the ability to
transform the garden into a tropical paradise.
Abyssinian banana started showing up in garden centers just over a
decade ago and now is considered to be the most beautiful banana for
the landscape. It is the perfect choice for gardeners looking to
create their corner of a tropical paradise.
tropical garden is most assuredly an attempt to get a certain
appearance, but it also says something about the gardener’s
disposition. You’ve left your work at the office and you’ve
abandoned the stress of the freeway, beltway or wherever your traffic
jam originates. It is not paradise lost but paradise found, and it’s
in your yard.
To me, bananas
of all sorts represent the key ingredient to your tropical garden;
they have a magical transforming effect on a landscape because of
their coarse or bold textured foliage. A perennial or cottage garden
suddenly changes to an exotic tropical garden with the addition of a
couple of bananas.
The reason is
simple: As you drive or hike through a tropical rainforest like El
Yunque in Puerto Rico you notice the size or magnitude of the plants
and what seems to be a never-ending variety of leaf textures. The
bananas at the garden center this spring offer all of that, including
monolithic-sized leaves, some rich in color and others with
variegation that makes you stare with wonder and amazement.
Abyssinian banana is known botanically as Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurellii’
and is from Africa. It is a food staple in Ethiopia but not for the
inedible banana type fruits but as a starch substitute from the corm
below the ground. A lot of elephant ears are cooked and eaten in much
the same way but you and I are just going to relish in the beauty of
its deep burgundy and green foliage and trunk or psuedostem.
Abyssinian is listed as a zone 10-11 plant. I have seen them
over-winter many years in zone 8, and the largest one I have ever seen
was in zone 7 where it was being grown in a microclimate protected by
tall trees on the south side of a two-story home. Here, each leaf and
its petiole would have measured 9 feet. So consider its potential to
get 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide or larger when you plant yours. If
you grow yours in a container, the size of the pot will dictate how
large your banana grows.
Don’t worry if
you are in a cold region because even if this banana had to be
repurchased each year, it is worth the price because of its incredible
beauty. It has an abundance of landscape applications from the
tropical setting with cannas and elephant ears, to grandma’s cottage
garden, and as the thriller plant in mixed containers.
banana causing quite the stir is the Siam Ruby. The trunk and leaves
of this exotic tropical are burgundy with irregular iridescent,
lime-green variegation in the foliage. Botanically speaking it is
known as Musa acuminata ‘Siam Ruby’. I’ve grown this
banana in containers, the landscape and in trials, and for me it
reached about 8 feet tall. Those in the landscape returned from the
ground in zone 8 after being frozen.
The Blood Leaf
with its burgundy variegation, the Black Thai with a black pseudostem
and Japanese Fiber banana — the most-cold hardy banana grown — are
all super choices that will have you thinking Jamaica, jerked chicken
and steel drums. The nicest thing of all is this will all take place
in your own backyard paradise.