Musa sikkimensis

Musa sikkimensis

Musa sikkimensis or Darjeeling banana is as hardy as Musa basjoo.

Growth is very fast, it needs plenty of water and feed.

Can be grown in the garden or in container.

This is definitely a good choice for a beginner.

Description:

Musa sikkimensis grows up to 4 m high, in pots usually no more than 2 m high. The pseudostem is solid, 30-40 cm in diameter at the base, red tinted.

The sheath is marked black-brown, waxy when young. Petiole up to 65 cm long, grooved, margins upright, with thin curved wings that form a black line in the lower part against the trunk. The leaves are spread. The leaf blade is oblong-lanceolate, rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, 1.8 -2.1 m long and 0.6 m wide, yellow-green, shiny on both sides, usually purple when young, sometimes in the lower part as when older. The midrib is red or purple underneath.

The inflorescence is far outshot from the pseudostem, on a robust peduncle. The bracts are broadly oval, blunt, dark purple to crimson. There are always 1-2 male bracts open, 14 flowers per bract, light orange.

The fruits appear in 2 rows of 4 hands with 7-9 fruits each. The fruit is 11-15 cm long and 4 cm wide, angular, green when ripe, with thick skin (5 mm), the flesh is dirty white to light brown-pink and contains numerous seeds.

The seeds are 6-10 mm long and 5-6 mm wide, black, sharp angular and smooth.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Darjeeling banana, Hookers hardy banana, Musa Darjeeling

Synonyms:

Musa hookeri, Musa × paradisiaca var. hookeri, Musa × sapientum f. hookeri

Etymology:

Musa: from the Greek mousa (banana)
Sikkimensis: New Latin meaning “from Sikkim”

Origin:

North-east India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand

Habitat:

In forests with rich humus

Hardiness:

USDA zone 8-11

The aboveground part of the plant dies off when it freezes but growth resumes in spring from the root ball.

The plant may be protected from frost by applying winter protection.



Care:

Soil:

Rich and well drained

Exposure:

Sun or semi-shade

Water:

Needs plenty of water in summer, keep soil moist

Feed:

Give organic fertilizer in spring. Eventually add dried organic fertilizer monthly during growing season. Grown in pot, weekly universal liquid fertilizer during growing season.

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • soak the seeds 2 days in tepid water, change the water once or twice a day
  • plant in sowing substrate and keep moist
  • sow the grains together in a pot
  • 20-25°C
  • germination: 1 to 6 months
  • don’t cover the seeds entirely with soil: needs light to germinate

Suckers:

  • the plant produces suckers or pups which can be removed by spade, close enough to the mother plant to have a large enough part of the rhizome.
  • let the suckers dry out for 3-4 days before planting.

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