Bananas are at the heart of any tropical style garden, some are hardy, some have fine flowers, some most attractive foliage and some might even produce fruit.

Musa sikkimensis
This is the hardy banana we grow (we don’t grow basjoo as this is superior and space is limited – plant snobbery might have something to do with it too). We don’t cover it in winter as it usually gets through unscathed in a sheltered spot, it avoids a lot of faffing about with straw and they don’t overheat, rot and become smelly in spring
Musa sikkimensis
If the plants are knocked back by winter frosts, they can grow back from below the ground very quickly in spring and by the end of the year they can be over 6 ft tall
Musa ‘Helen’
This one (on the left) is sometimes called ‘Helen’s Hybrid’ and is a hybrid of musa sikkimensis (see above) with a comercial fruiting kind. As a result we have a hardy one with the potential to produce fruit outdoors in the UK. The one on the right is another hybrid of sikkimensis with good leaf colour.
Ensete ventricosum forms
From left to right these are maurelii, monbeliardii and hiniba. They are not hardy, but are lovely and grow to huge sizes. Fortunately the root balls are quite small and we are able dig them up and store them in 35 litre pots over winter in the greenhouse.
Musa ornata purple form
This banana produces little bananas full of seeds. If planted as soon as they are ripe you can overcome the difficulty of germinating banana seeds.
Musa velutina
This one produces fluffy pink bananas following most attractive flowers.
Musella lasiocarpa
This banana comes from China where the emerging buds are used as protein rich feed for cattle. The blue/green leaves are most attractive and splay horizontally just before a flower bud emerges. It is essential to overwinter it in a greenhouse if you want it to flower (and you most certainly do!) The flower is dinner plate sized and continues opening for up to 18 months if the plant is brought into the greenhouse for winter.
Musella lasiocarpa
Flower detail
Musa ‘Dwarf Orinoco’
Although we no longer grow this one, we did get in the local paper some years ago when it started to produce proper bananas. They didn’t quite come to anything having started too late in the year, but it was exciting!
Musa ‘Dwarf Orinoco’
This one is sometimes called ‘Helen’s Hybrid’

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