The Banana Magnolia produces a multitude of intoxicatingly fragrant, creamy yellow, cupped, miniature Magnolia flowers that smell like sweet bananas. As children, we would pick a few of the flowers to put in our pockets so that we could enjoy the fragrance of "banana candy", in the words of Dan Gill
, all day. Like the Sweet Olive, the flowers of the Banana Magnolia are small, only about 1" long or a little longer in this case, and yet their sweet fragrance can easily permeate a large area. Occasionally, and seemingly only rarely, flowers may be followed by small, bumpy, green cones with single-seeded fruit tucked among the scales that ripen to orange. Although, some resources suggest that the seed themselves may not be viable. We are currently out of the common Banana Magnolias but do have the Hagiwara Everblooming Banana Magnolia
The Banana Magnolia is an easy to grow, long-lived, heirloom, evergreen shrub with a naturally upright to rounded habit and rich dark green glossy foliage. It can be used as a large specimen shrub, background shrub, hedge, screen, espalier, or is easily trained into a small single or multi-trunked tree. The Banana Magnolia has a moderate rate of growth when young and when grown under good or better conditions. Growth generally slows as they get larger and closer to their mature size of about 10' high but they may reach 20' with age. Even young Banana Magnolia plants generally flower well even under average conditions and they can be grown as container plants for many years with proper care. Where not cold hardy overwinter indoors under high light and preferably with direct sunlight.
Hardened off plants in the ground can easily take temperatures into the single digits for short periods with no apparent damage. Container grown plants should be protected if temperatures fall below freezing for any extended period of time as the soil may freeze and thus may damage the roots. Plan to do any general pruning immediately after flowering has finished as bud formation is produced on this spring's and early summer's growth. The cone-shaped, brown fuzzy buds are often large enough to be noticeable by fall when they are perched in the leaf axils along the dark stems awaiting the warmth of spring days to open.
Banana Magnolias like similar soil conditions to those of Camellias - moist, acidic, well-drained, humus rich, and moderately fertile. Preferably with an organic mulch, like pine straw, maintained beyond the dripline. Grown in more sun they tend to be fuller and denser, shorter plants whereas with more shade they tend to be taller and slightly more open in habit. Some resources suggest midday shade in hot summer climates. Under good conditions the Banana Magnolia has few pest or disease problems.
For more on information on and growing the Banana Magnolia, or Magnolia figo
, watch Dan Gill on LSU Agcenter's "Get it Growing
" by clicking here
or the "More info from Universities,..." link to the left.
For more on how to espalier Banana Magnolias and other plants from the Mississippi State Extension Service click here
Grows To: 10-15'H x 8-12'W up to 20'H x 15'W
This is the average expected mature height by width in feet or inches. Feet are represented by a single quote and inches by a double quote. Under poor growing conditions plants may be slightly to significantly smaller, whereas excellent growing conditions can produce larger more vigorous plants.
USDA Cold Hardiness Zones:
USDA Cold Hardiness Zones were established to give gardeners, horticulturists, farmers, nurseries, and landscape architects a universal way to describe where a plant will survive with regard to average winter lows for a region. And these are averages, here in zone 8B ('A' represents the colder half of a zone and 'B' represents the warmer half of the zone and they are separated by about 5oF) we have seen single digits but that is the exception but should be noted by the daring gardener. Each zone is separated by 10oF and the map was updated in 2012. Our zones do not always agree but we try to use our own experience as to what can be depended on to return or have known reputable gardens and or horticulturists to reliably grow that plant in zones that are usually colder but sometimes warmer than what other resources have available. For more on stretching your cold hardiness zones see the ""Growing on the Edge Growing Guide". If you do not know your zone you can find it by clicking on the "USDA Cold Hardiness Zones" link here or above.
Outdoor Light: Full sun, Mostly sunny, Part shade, Part sun
Full Sun - 8 hours or more of direct sunlight; Partial Sun or Partial Shade - 4-6 hours of direct sunlight; AM Sun or Morning Sun or Cool Sunlight - cool sunlight but usually in the shade during the heat of the day; Light Shade - Bright indirect sunlight for much of the day; Filtered Shade - may receive some amount of direct moving sunlight like through trees but usually not for any extended period especially during the heat of the day; Shade - no or very little direct sunlight, especially not during the heat of the day.
pH Range: Acidic, Mildly Acidic, Neutral
Acidic or Strongly Acidic - pH less than 5.5; Mildly Acidic - pH 5.6-6.5; Neutral - pH 6.6-7.3; Mildly Alkaline - pH 7.4-8.4; Alkaline or Strongly Alkaline pH higher than 8.4. Acid loving plants that are grown under alkaline conditions often exhibit nutrient deficiencies since the roots are not able to draw some types of minerals from the soil. Gardenias, for instance, may need to be sprayed with chelated iron. Most plants that are native to alkaline soils can be grown in neutral to mildly acidic soils successfully, although the opposite generally is not true.
Soil & Moisture: Average moist to moist, well-draining, humus-rich, moderately fertile soils. Never soggy wet.
These are the basic soil types and moisture levels where this plant will survive, not necessarily thrive. Drought resistant plants will need to be well-established, usually 2-3 years at a minimum, in the garden or landscape before they are able to withstand lengthy periods (weeks or months) without supplemental water. Most plants will grow and flower and or fruit best where they have ample moisture and nutrients available during the growing season. With that said, many plants, like prairie natives, are quite adaptable to soil types and can thrive in heavy clay as easily as a loose sandy loam.
Do you know the many benefits of a proper organic mulch? Click here to learn more.
A breathable organic mulch is not only aesthetically pleasing (looks nice) but can:
- Help to improve soil organic matter as it breaks down.
- Provide shade for the soil to help reduce moisture loss and prevent weed seed germination.
- Provide soil microbes, mycorrhizae (beneficial fungi), earthworms,and even nematode predators the necessary organic matter and ecosystem to thrive while their actions aid in improving soil tilth and or friability (think of this as the ease with which roots are able to penetrate the soil).
- Provide insulation to protect the crowns of tender perennials and die-back perennials giving gardeners up to an extra half a zone of winter warmth allowing us to grow that which we normally could not.
- Provide soil temperature moderation preventing premature soil warming in winter and providing a cooler root zone in summer.
- So which mulch is our favorite? Our preferred mulch is Longleaf Pine Straw which has: a natural weed preventative for the first year after it is applied; it is sustainably harvested; and it provides protection from soil erosion and doesn't float away, and yet is still both insulative and breathable; while Longleaf Pine Straw appears to last the longest in the garden and landscape in our opinion as compared to Loblolly.
Deer Resistance: Rarely BotheredDeer resistance is relative to how hungry the deer (or other herbivores) are, what food is readily available in their natural habitat, and how tasty a particular plant is. Few plants are truly completely 100% resistant to being browsed by hungry deer and other herbivores. Please realize that this is just a guide based on our experience and research but some plants may never ever be bothered.
Native To / Origin: China
If the plant is a true species and not a hybrid or cultivar this shows where it is normally found naturally. There may be some variation in species that are seed grown, which many of our 'species plants' often are, in order to help maintain genetic diversity. If the plant is a "cultivar" (CULTIvated VARiety) and if the data is available, it shows who developed, discovered it, hybridized it, and introduced it as well as the year it was introduced. With cultivars you will also typically see the cultivar name in quotes at the end of the botanical or scientific name. The great majority of cultivars are clonally propagated from division, cuttings, and tissue culture so that they remain true to type so have the same desirable traits as the parent such as growth habit, flower, fruit, or foliage form. With forms (form or forma), varieties (var.), and subforms (subf.) you will see these abbreviations usually between two lower case words at the end of the botanical name. They may be propagated via division or cuttings but can also be grown from seed depending on the plant and what is required to maintain them true to type. Plants that have PPAF(Plant Patent Applied For) or PP followed by a set of numbers, are illegal to propagate clonally for commercial purposes without the implicit permission of the patent holder. Some plants may have the trademark symbol (™) or copyright (©) in the name. These plants may not be clonally propagated and resold under that name without implicit permission from the copyright or trademark holder. Plants may be both patented and trademarked.
Container Plant Growing Guide - includes uppotting, repotting, potting soil selection, proper watering techniques for containers, what does brown or yellow foliage and green soil indicate, and more
See our Planting A New Plant In the Garden or Landscape, How To, and General Growing Guide for basic planting, initial watering and estabishment watering in instructions
The information listed above that has a black arrow symbol, ‣, before the property name is expandable (just click on it anywhere) and it will contain additional details and a more in-depth description of the terms that we use in this plant's description. This information is based on our years of experience both gardening and growing plants, input from other horticulturists, nursery people, gardeners, and research. If you feel we are missing important information about a plant please feel free to share it with us so that we can pass it on.