Hardiness: USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F) USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F) 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)
Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade Light Shade
Bloom Color: Pale Yellow
Bloom Time: Late Winter/Early Spring
Other details: Flowers are fragrant Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings Provides winter interest
Soil pH requirements: 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic) 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: From hardwood cuttings
Seed Collecting: Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
On May 2, 2009, nativeGeorgian from Marietta, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:
Delightful, practically care-free ; started blooming this year (2009) on April 20th, and usually blooms for close to a month. Intensely fragrant, I guess is the best way to put it, as I can even smell it when I'm inside the house (open windows, of course). We've been in a drought situation for several years here, and I've rarely watered it (restrictions), but it's in bloom again this year, and it's growing in partial shade. I'm in hardiness zone 7.
On Jul 2, 2007, GulfportMSgirl from Gulfport, MS wrote:
We have a banana shrub tree that is on our property (well my grandparents old place - that was passed down many generations). It has is over twenty feet tall and throws the prettiest little magnoila flowers that smell like bananas when you drive up my grandparents house. I had asked one of my daddy's sister the name and then I asked my mom both told me the wrong name being something like franschisa (forgive me if that is spelled wrong). But I decided to search for it on the internet and with pictures and detail I realize the name is the "Banana shrub tree or known as the Michelia Figo". I located the best picture of the flower on floridata.com - it was exciting to finally locate the tree's true name. Again this tree grows wonderful in Gulfport, Mississippi. I am planning to order for my property because I would like to enjoy what my family members before me enjoyed.
On Mar 2, 2005, violabird from Barnesville, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:
I purchased 2 of these plants last fall after an extensive search to find one. I first saw it at the U. of Ga. Research and Education Garden in Griffin, Ga. and was overwhelmed by the lucious banana scent that drifted over the garden during their annual plant sale.
I planted one in the ground, which has done very well this winter, and kept one in a large pot in the basement. Both have the fuzzy brown pods that will become blooms, hopefully next month.
Walter Reeves (our Georgia Gardener) had recently answered a question about location, he suggested a northeast corner would be best.
I absolutely adore this plant, it kept it's leaves all winter (unlike M. Figo) and is blooming now (unlike M. Figo). The scent is more like Banana Rum!
On Dec 5, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:
I have been looking for a plant of Michelia figo for years, as my Mother grew it in her garden a block and a half from the Gulf of Mexico, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and as a child I loved the banana smell of the small, creamy yellow flowers. So I was really excited when I recently found a Michelia skinneriana, or 'Improved Banana Shrub' at a local nursery near Gainesville Florida, here in zone 8b, although I was disappointed that it wasn't "the real thing"--the plant of my childhood.
Internet research explains that this plant is a new introduction from China that was collected in 1990 from a stream bank of the Jiangxi Province by the staff of the Shanghai Botanic Garden. It first flowered in 1995. The genus Michelia differs from "true" magnolias in having flowers in the leaf axils rather than at the branch ends, and a short stalk beneath the female reproductive parts. There are at least 45 species of Michelia, with my beloved banana shrub, Michelia figo, being one of the most common, althought the only ones I can find for sale are on the internet with large shipping and handling fees.
At the present time most information on Michelia skinneriana comes from university research sites, where it is currently being used in plant evaluation programs both at Auburn University in Alabama and the University of Arkansas. In Arkansas it is being grown at three sites, one each in zones 6, 7 and 8. Plant hardiness estimates at the Arkansas sites shows it does best in zone 8, and does worse in zone 6, so it is only moderately hardy.
The Green Nurseries website says it is a " . . . new and improved Michelia figo, similar in most respects, but more vigorous, more evergreen, more cold-hardy, and with a longer bloom season." They list it under Heirloom and Winter Interest Plants, as it supposedly blooms starting in February.
The plant I just bought is about three feet tall and is covered with small buds. The nursery owner said it would eventually grow to about eight feet. I'm going to plant it in a partly sunny spot and wait for that waft of banana smell in late winter.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Blue Mountain, Alabama Huntsville, Alabama Indian Springs Village, Alabama Lafayette, California Brandon, Florida Branford, Florida Jacksonville, Florida Ocala, Florida Old Town, Florida Tampa, Florida Trenton, Florida Aldora, Georgia Marietta, Georgia Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii Coushatta, Louisiana Mandeville, Louisiana Old Jefferson, Louisiana Lyman, Mississippi Saucier, Mississippi Davidson, North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina Silver Lake, North Carolina Conway, South Carolina East Sumter, South Carolina North Augusta, South Carolina Frisco, Texas La Porte, Texas Nassau Bay, Texas Roman Forest, Texas Tacoma, Washington