The Beauty of the Musa 'Basjoo'

The Beauty of the Musa 'Basjoo'

The Musa basjoo, also known as the Japanese banana, Japanese fibre banana, or hardy banana, is a species of flowering plant belonging to the banana family Musaceae. It's known for being the most cold-hardy banana tree, making it a popular choice for gardeners in cooler climates.

Here's a closer look at its characteristics:

Origin: Previously thought to have originated in Japan, Musa basjoo is now known to be native to subtropical southern China, where it's also widely cultivated.

Description: This herbaceous perennial has a trunk-like pseudostem that can grow up to around 2–2.5 meters (6.6–8.2 ft) tall. It boasts a crown of mid-green leaves that can grow up to 2 meters (6.6 ft) long and 70 centimeters (28 in) wide when mature.

Flowers and fruits: The Musa basjoo produces both male and female flowers on the same inflorescence, which can extend for over 1 meter (3.3 ft). It also produces yellow-green fruits that are around 5–10 centimeters (2.0–3.9 in) long and 2–3 centimeters (0.79–1.18 in) broad. However, unlike edible bananas, these fruits are inedible with sparse white pulp and many black seeds.

Hardiness: As its nickname suggests, the Musa basjoo is a hardy banana plant. While the above-ground stems and leaves will die down in frost, the root system is hardy and will sprout new growth in the spring.

Climate: While Musa basjoo is considered hardy, it's still best to plant it in a sheltered location protected from strong winds. The leaves can be quite large and can be damaged by strong winds.

Soil: Musa basjoo prefers well-drained, fertile soil. You may need to improve your soil by adding compost or manure before planting.

Watering: Musa basjoo needs to be watered regularly, especially during hot weather. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

Feeding: Musa basjoo benefits from being fed a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

Winter protection: In colder areas, you may need to protect the pseudostem (false stem) of your Musa basjoo over winter. This can be done by wrapping it in horticultural fleece or straw. 

With a little care, Musa basjoo can be a successful addition to a UK garden. It's a fast-growing plant that can reach up to 4 meters in height. The large, green leaves provide a tropical feel, and the plant can even flower and produce small, inedible bananas.

If you're looking for an exotic-looking plant to add to your garden, the Musa basjoo is a great option, especially if you live in a climate that experiences occasional frosts. Just be sure to provide it with rich soil and plenty of water.


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