Gardens' Plant of the Month: Hardy
Hardy Banana can make an excellent
addition to temperate gardens. This specimen is on the
grounds of the West Tennessee Agricultural Experiment
Station in Jackson. Photo by S. Conlon.
Experts with the University of Tennessee Institute of
Agriculture recommend the following August chores to
fill your lazy summer days and keep your garden and
landscape in top condition.
Would you like to bring a bit of the tropics
to your garden? Hardy Banana, or Musa basjoo, is a banana that
is cold hardy in our Tennessee climate and can be grown as a
perennial in our landscapes. This green-leaf banana can add
tropical punch to any garden. With a little assistance from
the gardener, the hardy banana forms a growing clump that can
be enjoyed year after year.
hardy banana as an herbaceous perennial since it will die back
to the ground for the winter. The plant prefers full to
partial sun and a moist, well-drained soil. It is primarily
propagated through division. Once you have a large, healthy
clump, consider sharing it with your neighbors or those with a
strong back who can help you dig and divide.
banana can grow up to 12 feet tall in one growing season and
will produce green leaves about six inches in length. In warm
conditions, this stunner can grow up to two inches a day.
Don't be on the lookout for the fruit, however. Due to the
relatively short growing season in Tennessee, hardy banana
does not generally grow enough in the summer to produce fruit.
Even if your plant does produce fruit, it will only about two
to six inches long and inedible.
overwinter hardy banana in your garden, follow these
before frost, cut down the stems and leaves above the crown,
keeping it about 8 to 10 inches above ground.
- Use a
clean, sharpened saw to make clean cuts.
apply a thick layer of mulch to provide added winter
protection at the crown. Pile the mulch over the crown, up
to several feet high, depending on the size of the
- It is
best to use a heavy mulch, such as a hardwood or pine bark
mulch, to keep mulch from blowing or washing away. This will
provide good drainage during the winter.
- For a
smoother, cleaner removal of the mulch in the springtime,
lay a wire cage, made of chicken wire or a similar material,
over the crown prior to mulching for the winter. This will
also help provide good winter drainage.
can also dig up the banana prior to frost and take it into a
frost-free location for the winter. However, older, more
mature plants can be burdensome
banana can be used in a container planting but will not
achieve maximum height in a pot. Consider using it with other
tropicals, such as canna and elephant ear, which also
typically overwinter in Tennessee. You can also use it in
combination with brightly colored annuals, such as groundcover
petunia and coleus or perennials such as Rudbeckia that will
really make your garden sizzle.
tropical fun, introduce a pink flamingo or two into your
planting bed. Art can serve as a great conversation piece for
your tropical paradise.
Conlon is a volunteer coordinator for the UT Gardens.
works under the guidance of Dr. Susan Hamilton, director of
the UT Gardens. The UT Gardens are located on Neyland Drive in
Knoxville. They are free and open to the public seven days a
week during daylight hours.