Musa sikkimensis ‘Red Tiger’

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Musa sikkimensis ‘Red Tiger’

Musa sikkimensis ‘Red Tiger’ or Red Darjeeling Banana is a variety of Musa sikkimensis with striking red variegated leaves.

Grows very fast and needs plenty of water and feed during growing period.

Can be grown in pot or in the garden with winter protection.

Description:

The pseudostem grows up to 4 m high and 45 cm in diameter.

It produces suckers but not as profusely as Musa basjoo.

The leaves are burgundy red underneath and green with dark red stains above.

Fruit is edible but contains many seeds.

Nomenclature:

Common name:

Red Darjeeling banana

Synonyms:

Musa sikkimensis ‘Manipur’, Musa sikkimensis ‘Red Flash’

Etymology:

Musa: from the Greek mousa (banana)
Sikkimensis: new Latin for “from Sikkim”

Origin:

Himalayan Mountains, Sikkim

Hardiness:

USDA zone 8-11, -12 °C. The above-ground parts die from frost but the plant recovers in spring. A mulch layer helps to better protect the rhizome.

Habitat:

Himalayan foothills, up to 2,000 m altitude

Care:

Soil:

Rich and well drained

Light:

Sun or partial shade

Water:

Need a lot of water and nutrition during the growing season.

Feed:

Give abundant fertilizer because growth is strong, weekly during growing period

Overwinter:

Overwinter frost-free indoors if grown in a pot, protect with a mulch layer or a socket if grown in the garden

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • soak the seeds 2 days in tepid water, change the water once or twice a day
  • sow in light soil
  • 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
  • transplant the seedlings on germination, when they are +5 cm and easy to handle
  • leave the other seeds in the pot as germination may be erratic, the other seeds can germinate months later
  • in individual pot if the weather is still too cold
  • outside in the garden when the weather is nice and warm

Propagation from 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.

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