Banana Shrub, Port Wine Magnolia
Magnolia figo

Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia (mag-NO-lee-a) (Info)
Species: figo (FYE-go) (Info)
Synonym:Liriodendron figo
Synonym:Magnolia fuscata
Synonym:Michelia figo
Synonym:Michelia fuscata

Category:

Shrubs

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us

Height:

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

Spacing:

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Cream/Tan

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Foliage:

Evergreen

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,

Anniston, Alabama

Athens, Alabama

Bessemer, Alabama

Houston, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama

Irvington, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Pelham, Alabama

Prattville, Alabama

Queen Creek, Arizona

Ashdown, Arkansas

Canyon Country, California

Escondido, California

Loomis, California

Montara, California

Napa, California

Ontario, California

Sacramento, California

San Francisco, California

Sonoma, California

Bushnell, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Deltona, Florida

Fort Mc Coy, Florida

Fort White, Florida

Georgetown, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Mc David, Florida

Mulberry, Florida

Pomona Park, Florida

Riverview, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Wellborn, Florida

Americus, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia

Augusta, Georgia

Columbus, Georgia

Hawkinsville, Georgia

Hephzibah, Georgia

Jackson, Georgia

Lake Park, Georgia

Lula, Georgia

Newnan, Georgia

Thomasville, Georgia

Washington, Georgia

Ahuimanu, Hawaii

Ainaloa, Hawaii

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Bordelonville, Louisiana

Covington, Louisiana

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Doyline, Louisiana

Greenwell Springs, Louisiana

Hammond, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Oscar, Louisiana

Pierre Part, Louisiana

Leakesville, Mississippi

Picayune, Mississippi

Raymond, Mississippi

Saint Joseph, Missouri

Raleigh, North Carolina (2 reports)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Baytown, Texas

Corsicana, Texas

Deer Park, Texas

Frisco, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas

Huntsville, Texas (2 reports)

Lewisville, Texas

Santa Fe, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Virginia Beach, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

16
positives
6
neutrals
1
negative
RatingContent
Positive

On Jul 6, 2015, missalligator45 from Columbus, GA wrote:

I have three very healthy specimen of Banana Shrub, Magnolia figo, growing in my yard in Columbus, Georgia. Please add Columbus to the list where this shrub is grown.
This is by far my favorite tree. I anticipate the scent of the tiny cream blooms at Easter each year. This is the second year I've had one shrub to "re-bloom." I've learned that pruning gangling arms of the shrub in sunny locations encourages the shrub to re-bud. I'll attempt to post photos of the shrub and its green berries or seed pods. My goal is to plant these seeds successfully.

Positive

On May 30, 2013, AZ_Gardener from Queen Creek, AZ wrote:

I've changed my rating to Positive because I now realize I made a mistake on my first few plants. I'm going on my second summer now with 2 plants. The trick here in the Sonoran desert is to water them everyday and never let them get direct sunlight unless it's past 5 PM in the summer. They do grow slowly through the summer, and they survive our winters outdoor with no problems.

Positive

On Apr 9, 2013, Phellos from Port Vincent, LA wrote:

Love this plant! I have had one at my parent's house since I was a kid. It has had more flowers this year than any other. I have no idea how old it is. Its trunk at the base is about 2 ft in diameter. At about 2 ft high it starts to multi-trunk. It grows well over the roof of my house and, as a kid, I would climb it to get onto the roof.
Last year, I noticed something that I never would expect from this tree. It had a papery thin layer of rotted bark from the base to where it starts to split about 2 ft high. I peeled the bark away to find aerial roots all around the base! Is this normal? Last Spring was incredibly wet and the Winter preceding was mild. Does this have something to do with it, or is there another cause?

Negative

On Sep 23, 2012, mightyv from Gulf Hills, MS wrote:

My plants leaves are black, and the plants did not flower since planted 3 years ago. They are planted in semi shade with afternoon sun. Any suggestions?

Positive

On Jan 25, 2012, PhillyLover from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

Planted a small one about 2 years ago in part shade. It has more than tripled in size. Flowering this spring.

The foliage seems to be thinner and longer in part shade, almost like Ficus benjamina, at least on my 3' tall plant.

Positive

On Jul 4, 2011, GSP42 from Americus, GA wrote:

When I moved into this house, the plant was already in the front yard, I had been calling it the bubble gum tree, before I found out what it was. I estimate that it is at least 30 feet tall, the power company has to keep cutting the top out of it to keep it from touching the power lines. It provides ample shade year round to park the cars under. In the early spring before it flowers it releases a smell that reminds me of the pink bazooka bubblegum I used to chew as a kid. I can't think of any other scent that describes it better. Smells great! Everybody who passes by it about that time of year can't help but comment, because the smell is so overpowering. I have talked to people who drove by on the highway and they say they smell it 200 yards before they get to it. I wish I had informatio... read more

Positive

On Apr 4, 2011, dustyshoes from Fort White, FL wrote:

This plant was planted by original home owner in Ft. White, FL by the back door of an enclosed back porch.

It is about 8 feet tall and we have lived here for 9 years. We have not given it much care. We do not water. It is an understory surrounded by oaks and long leaf pines. Gets early morning sun.

Considering it's incredible heady scent, when flowering it does not attract bees, butterflies, or hummingbirds.

Positive

On Apr 27, 2010, d2436 from Canyon Country, CA wrote:

I love this plant! The first spring that it flowered there was no smell from it and soon after flowering some branches died off. This spring the plant is looking very good and I was able to smell its sweet fragrance when gardening close to it the other day. The evergreen glossy foliage is another attribute. It is doing good in organic humus rich soil. It get full sun till about 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon at which point my neighbor's shed provides shade. It gets watered in the morning and in the evening by sprinklers. I definitely recommend anyone looking for a fragrant bush give this plant a try provided you can offer the correct growth zone.

Positive

On Apr 20, 2010, addycakes from Hephzibah, GA wrote:

I just moved into an old house in Hephzibah, Ga. All along the foundation are multiple banana shrubs. Given that the house was rented for several years to a business, very little care was given to these shrubs and they have done very well. I was surprised that they require so much care. I was told these are rare and not available at any local nurseries. I may try to propagate them just for fun!

Positive

On Jun 10, 2009, 35022gardener from Bessemer, AL wrote:

How exciting to see info on this shrub. We live in Birmingham, AL and nobody here has this plant or knows much about it. We planted our "figo" in 2004 It has grown to appx 12 ft. Very healthy and blooms well. The problem is, it is too big for its site. I need pruning info. How much will it tolerate etc... Please advise.(I'm new to this web site-hope I can find your answer).

Neutral

On May 2, 2009, musaboru from Ontario, CA wrote:

I would describe the fragrance more like very ripe apples with a hint of banana. A very delicious scent that changes in intensity through the day. Most of the time, I cannot detect any fragrance in my dry climate, only during certain parts of the day. The flowers are short lived for me unfortunately.

I think this plant is somewhat more difficult to care for than M. x alba. It has a finicky nature and mines drops its buds and leaves for unapparent reasons (maybe the soil was too wet or it wasn't getting enough sun). I am actually very afraid of killing it more so than M. x alba.

Neutral

On Apr 14, 2009, bigred from Ashdown, AR (Zone 8a) wrote:

I planted a small banana shrub several years ago.It has grown very well in the shade of a very large oak tree receieving mostly high shade with a short period of sun in the late afternoon. It now stands apx. 15 ft. tall. Always loaded with blooms this time of year.

We allowed it to grow in it's natural shape until this year.Had to limb it up as it was starting to block the pathway.

Positive

On Jun 29, 2008, cedar18 from Lula, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Blooms here mid-April to early May. Grows on the east side of our house which is why I thought it did so well, but I see from postings it handles colder zones than listed. A wonderful evergreen shrub that most people are not familiar with. And you don't forget that Juicy Fruit gum fragrance!

Positive

On May 15, 2008, xstemboatr from Virginia Beach, VA wrote:

I garden in Virginia Beach, Virginia and feel very fortunate to have a 15 ft. michelia figo bush on my property. I love it ! On a warm day it sends it's fragrance throughout the neighborhood. It is my most favorite specimen in my garden. My banana shrub is in full sun and seems to thrive in our humid climate. It is probably 30 yrs. old + .

Positive

On May 30, 2007, MissWeed from Raymond, MS (Zone 8b) wrote:

I bought my Michelia 3 years ago on sale at a local nursery. It was small, scruffy, with very few leaves. It is now 6-7 feet tall, 7-8 feet wide, & very thick. The blooms are wonderfully fragrant, but it's a beautiful shrub even without them. I'm going to try to root some cuttings this year.

Positive

On May 15, 2006, huntspatch from Huntsville, TX wrote:

My banana shrub was purchased for me by my parents at Hodges Gardens in Louisiana nearly 20 years ago. It has been moved twice: once because it grew too large for its site, and once because I moved and did not want to leave it. It has been in its present spot 15 years and has grown taller than the usual descriptions (probably because it is searching for sun in a very shady location), but blooms profusely nevertheless. I love the fragrance, and in between bloomings it makes a dense evergreen mass. HUNTSPATCH

Neutral

On Mar 2, 2005, violabird from Barnesville, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Being a new fan to the 'Banana Shrub', I've been doing as much research as possible, I'd like to share my findings.

One of the classic evergreen shrubs of the old south, the banana shrub, originally from China was introduced to United States in late 1700s. It was named after Pietro Antonio Michele, 1679-1737, a Florentine botanist.

Michelias will thrive in a compost of sandy loam and leaf mould, preferably acidic. They can be propagated, in summer, by cuttings of half-ripened shoots placed in sand, under a glass, in heat. (I would assume in shade)

Although they are not particularly fast growing, they may be pruned after blooming, but is best when allowed to grow to natural size and shape. The nursery specimens of banana shrub tend to look thin... read more

Positive

On May 4, 2004, drayton from Spartanburg, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I bought my Banana Shrub last spring and planted it in rich compost, not knowing but it has grown exceptionally.
I didn't know if it would make it through our harsh winter nights in upper South Carolina { zone 7 } , but I wrapped the base in burlap and piled about 6 inches of hay around the bottom of the plant and it came through beautifully, no problems!
It has not stopped blooming all spring and looks so healthy.

Neutral

On Aug 23, 2003, birovsek from Bonneau, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

i have just planted one by my front steps . will see how it does next year. easily obtain here in s.c

Neutral

On Aug 8, 2003, Laural from Madison, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

A friend just gave me two banana shrubs, one gallon size. I haven't planted them yet as I want to get all the particulars on them. But I am very excited to get them as I have fond memories of them. Wish me luck!

Positive

On Aug 7, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

The house right next door to our home where I spent a large part of my childhood in Gulfport, Mississippi, had a quite large banana shrub near the fence between our two properties, and we kids could reach through the fence and pick these wonderful smelling flowers that do smell like bananas. I have been searching for a banana shrub for years--I have never seen one in a nursery--and now I own the perfect property for growing it in Northcentral Florida, as the climate here is very much like the Mississippi Gulf Coast climate. A wonderful plant that deserves a place in every Coastal South garden.

Positive

On Jun 22, 2003, enalter from Leakesville, MS (Zone 8b) wrote:

I tried for several years to root this plant from cuttings with no success. There are two very large trees in our town and about two years ago I discovered seeds on both of these trees and now I have many seedlings of the tree. I have been sharing them with friends to help perserve it here in our town. One of these trees has a trunk on it of at least one foot in diameter.

Neutral

On Aug 21, 2001, justmeLisa from Brewers, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

You will love this plant if you like fragrance in the garden! It is in the Magnolia family but it bears numerous flowers on one branch rather than just one big flower. It is happy in moist, acidic soil that is well drained. It is a slow growing shrub and can be damaged by low, teen-level temperatures. This shurb makes a striking speciman plant for the patio. Use a balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8 in late winter at the rate of 1 cup for mature plants. Spread around the root base. Banana shrub is usually not bothered by pests.