This Fragrant Shrub Smells Wonderful!
As soon as I start my walk in the Exploration Gardens, I smell the delightful scent of the banana shrub. I can’t figure out why this plant isn’t used more in landscapes because it has so many good qualities. This evergreen shrub is both sweet and tough. Its flowers are incredibly fragrant, and the plant itself is easy to take care of. Banana shrub is known scientifically as Michelia figo and is a member of the magnolia family. Gardeners can think of it as a miniature Southern magnolia whose flowers smell like bananas.
It blooms heavily in the spring with cream-colored, one-inch flowers that look like tiny magnolia blossoms edged with crimson. Blooming will continue sporadically throughout the summer. The plant is evergreen and has glossy, deep green leaves that are three inches long, making it a great backdrop for other garden plants. The buds and immature leaves often have a covering of brown fuzz that the leaves lose as they mature.
Banana shrub can be planted near an entryway or window so that its fragrance can be enjoyed, but it can also be incorporated in a mixed shrub border or used as a hedge. The plants tend to be slow growing with a rounded, open habit. Banana shrub can grow ten to fifteen feet tall if left unpruned, but the plant takes pruning well and can be maintained at a shorter height with a denser form. Once established, banana shrub is quite drought tolerant and can work in various light conditions, making it a versatile plant for a number of Florida landscapes.
Banana shrub will grow in either sun or light shade. Plants grown in the sun will have a shorter, tighter form and the leaves will be more yellowish green. It prefers a slightly acidic, well-drained sandy soil.
This plant may be difficult to find in some areas, so you may need to call around to different nurseries. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that nursery specimens may sometimes look sparse but will often fill in once planted.
More information about this great plant here.