The large leaves and ornate flowers make this uncommon species a popular one for ornamental cultivation. Musa ornata ‘Royal Purple’ is a small species that grows to just 1.5 to 2.7m (5 to 9ft) tall. In summer it produces a gorgeous purple inflorescence and pink to purple non-edible fruit.
With long, glaucous-green, oblong leaves that have a sturdy midrib and grow up to 1.8 meters (6ft) long and 35cm (14in) wide. The plants are extremely quick to flower, beginning when only 1m (3ft) in height.
It makes a much more manageable plant than other species and is well suited for indoor use. It is extremely suitable for containers and will stay smaller if grown as a container specimen, or can be planted in the garden or greenhouse,
This very attractive ornamental produces a flowering inflorescence of very bright pink in summer. The inflorescence emerge from the tip of the plant and are erect, elongating, and have pink to lilac, petal-like bracts that open to reveal single rows of three to six, deep yellow-orange, male or female flowers. The female flowers are the first to open on the young inflorescence. The male flowers open later after the fruit begins developing. Each row of female flowers produces an erect 'hand' of three to six bananas. Although not expected to produce fruit outside of its native climate, the fruits are 7cm (3in) long, 2cm (¾in) in diameter with a creamy white flesh. They are attractive but contain numerous black seeds and rather inedible.
Musa ornata is cold tolerant and hardy to around -5°C (25°F). The plants will survive even frosty winters outside if heavily mulched. During summer, the plants can be placed in containers outside or planted into the border, but will need some frost protection in winter.
A great feature plant for the garden and wonderful in the house or conservatory, both the flowers and fruits can be used in tropical cut flower arrangements.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Musa ornata has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow indoors at any time of year.
Sow seeds as soon as you are able. If you are not going to sow them, store them in their packaging in a cool, dark, dry place. (Do not refrigerate)
Always soak the seed for 3 to 4 days in warm water, which has been previously boiled. Change the water each day. This process is important, as gets rid of germination inhibitors.
Fill either large cells or trays with perlite, vermiculite or sterilised, well draining compost. Using a media that holds water will rot the seeds before they have time to germinate. Stand the trays in water until the medium is completely moist. Sow the seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep. Spray the seeds with a little copper based fungicide
Bottom heat is helpful, place in a propagator if you have one or in a warm location out of direct sunlight. Do not exclude light as this helps germination. Keep at a constant temperature of 20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F). Check the seeds daily for germination.
If mold or fungus appears, remove the seeds and wash them in warm water. Spray them with fungicide and re-sow in a fresh medium in a sterilised pot. Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged. Patience is needed as germination of Musa seeds is erratic and usually takes several months, it can be anything from one to twelve months. Do not give up too soon, your patience will be rewarded.
When large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings into 7cm (3in) pots, taking care not to damage the root system. Grow on in well-lit conditions, and pot on, into rich, well drained soil, as required. Water the plant thoroughly and every 1 to 3 days thereafter depending on the season. Do not soak - remember moist soil, not wet, not dry.
Musa do not like wind, or rather you will not like the way they look as the leaves spit in windy locations. The planting site should be chosen for protection from wind and cold weather, if possible, the south or southeast side of the house.
Cold hardy bananas appreciate sun, water and a rich soil to grow well. It does not matter if the plants are planted in a position that is in shade during winter as the plants will be covered up.
The plants will grow in a wide variety of soils, but to thrive, they should be planted in a rich, well-drained soil that is not compacted to avoid waterlogging over the winter. Before planting, test your soil’s ability to drain properly. Dig a post-hole about 60cm (2ft) deep. Fill it with water. If it empties within two hours, the drainage should be ideal.
Once you have chosen a location for your banana plant, you need to prepare the soil well. Make sure the hole is is at least 60cm (2ft) deep, dig plenty of home made compost and composted manure into an area considerably bigger than your new plant's pot. Pop the plant it the soil and water well.
Their rapid growth rate makes bananas plants heavy feeders. During warm weather, apply a balanced fertiliser once a month.
Spread the fertiliser evenly around the plant in a circle extending 120cm (4ft) from the trunk. Feed container banana plants on the same monthly schedule using about half the rate for outside plants.
Container grown plants can be moved indoors or to a sheltered spot in the garden. Outdoor plants need protection, either wrap the trunk or cover with blanket if the banana plants are small and low temperatures are predicted. You can also dig up the roots, and store in a dark dry place inside until spring. The foliage can be cut back to 15 to 20cm (6 to 8in). Leaves are damaged at 0°C (32°F) but the plant will grow back from the root (corm).
Musa ornata originated in southeast Asia and commonly found in Bangladesh, Burma, and India. This species is widely distributed throughout tropical regions but it is often misnamed. The plants are relatively tolerant and mainly grow in lowland areas with high temperature and high humidity and are cultivated for their commercial and ornamental value.
The plant was found in Mauritius (off the coast of Madagascar) before 1805 and must have begun to travel several years before it was botanically described in 1824 on Indian banana plantations. Numerous parts of Mexico have also naturalised the plant, although the seedlings are often offered commercially under a different name, Musa violacea
The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. It is botanically classed a herb, not a tree due to the lack stringy tissue (wood) in the stem. The banana itself is considered a fruit because it contains small seeds.
All the above-ground parts of a banana plant grow from a structure usually called a 'corm'. Plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy, and are often mistaken for trees, but what appears to be a trunk is actually a 'false stem' or pseudostem.
Musa is in the family Musaceae. Some 70 species of Musa were recognised by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families as of January 2013. Several produce edible fruit, while others are cultivated as ornamentals.
The genus Musa was created by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). Linnaeus had yet to establish two-word names for organisms so was content with the one-word name Musa for the banana. However, it was the custom, soon to be a rule (of Linnaeus, who loved rules), that names (of genera at least) must derive from Latin or Greek, or be eponyms for naturalists. Linnaeus was well aware that musa came from the Arabic moaz or mauz. for banana and was therefore 'barbaric' (i.e. non-classical). But he liked the name and it did have some 'official' precedence in the works of Cesalpino and others. Cleverly he circumvented this troublesome etymology by 'naming' the banana after Antonius Musa, a botanist and physician to the great Emperor Augustus, thus coining an eponym that was also decidedly Latin.
The species name ornata means 'ornamental' is a reference to the bright pink inflorescence of this species.
It is commonly called the Flowering or Ornamental Banana and can be found under the synonym Musa violacea.
The name banana is thought to be of West African origin, from the Wolof word banan meaning 'finger', and passed into English via Spanish or Portuguese. The bananas that were growing in Africa as well as Southeast Asia were not the eight-to-twelve-inch giants that have become familiar in the supermarkets today. They were small, about as long as a man's finger.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Family Musaceae Genus Musa Species ornata Common Name Purple Flowering or Ornamental Banana Hardiness Tender Perennial Foliage Long, glaucous-green, oblong leaves Height 1.5 to 2.7m (5 to 9ft) tall Position Full sun, sheltered Soil Rich and moist but well drained