Michelia Figo

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Description  Michelia Figo Photos

Name: Banana Shrub
Scientific Name: Michelia Figo
Family: Magnoliaceae

Soil: A rich soil with good drainage. When planted it in pots, make sure to mix a small amount of charcoal at the bottom to reduce salt built-up.
Sun: They like sun because that¡¯s what gives the fragrance to the flowers; but too much sun can burn its leaves, especially if there is alkaline water on it.
Water: It does not like to be wet all the time. It is better to have it dry out some and then water it thoroughly to flush out the salt. Allow the soil to dry up a bit in between watering.
Fertilizer: I feed it with food for acid love plants. Since it dislike salt buildup, I often have to add Soil Acidifier to the water when I water it. This not only changes the pH of the water a bit, but it also helps provide the iron it needs for green and beautiful leaves. Once in a while, I also feed it with Bloom buster during the flowering season.
Care: Besides moving it in and out of the house as the seasons change, it requires little care. Also the cold tolerant for this plant is 7 and 8. So it is highly possible that it can be grown outside in southern New Mexico without having to move it indoors during winter.
Tips: Salt buildup can be easily spotted by inspecting its leaves and tips. When there is browning of the tips and/or the edges of the leaves, it is time to flush the plant.


As far as I know, there are two verities of michelia figo, the regular michelia figo which has a banana scent and the ¡®Port Wine¡¯ which has a hint of spice scent. They looked almost identical with the exception that ¡°Port Wine¡± has a purple ring around the edge of the petals. Both smell delicious. My parents bought a banana shrub over from the East Coast. It is already four feet tall and spans like a small tree. It is not really cold tolerant so my parents have been growing it in pot for years, moving indoor during cold winter days and outdoor during sunny days. When they moved here, they bought it with them. Once it became settled here, it started to form small brown hairy buds and soon yellow fragrant flowers opened one after another. Even with just one flower, the scent can perfume the air within the vicinity. I often find myself wondering at my parent¡¯s back porch and fill my lungs with the sweet scent of the m. figo. For some reason, the fragrance reminds me of freshly cut cantaloupes, rather than of bananas. Even the contractors that my parents hired to do some construction often stop their work and came have a sniff of these creamy yellow flowers.

I have been trying very hard to obtain an m. figo myself. From an online store, I bought a michelia figo ¡®Port Wine¡¯. It came in one gallon size and looks pretty healthy. Just a few days after adjusting to the southwestern sun, I started to see new leaves emerging. However, it was not the same as the one my parents have. While shopping around for many online stores, to my amazement, one day while I was at Lowe¡¯s in El Paso, I came across a group of banana shrubs for sale. They were each of a gallon size and I couldn¡¯t believe how cheap they come (it was about seven dollars a plant). For that, I grabbed a few of them and went home. Now they are happily sitting on my porch. There are small fuzzy buds on some branches. I can¡¯t wait to see them flowering.


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