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Michelia figo

Pronunciation: my-KEEL-lee-uh FYE-go
Family: Magnoliaceae
Synonym: Michelia doltsopa x figo
Common Name: Banana Shrub
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 20ft
Width to: 11ft
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The banana shrub (Michelia figo) is so called because of the distinctive, sweet banana scent of its flowers. These are formed within interesting fuzzy brown bracts that form a 1 in (2. 5 cm) cigar-shaped bud. From these, small off-white flowers burst forth from late spring through summer. The blossoms are about 1. 5 in (3. 8 cm) in diameter with each of six waxy petals delicately outlined in dark red.
Soil Type: Prefers acid, fertile, well drained soil with plenty of organic matter.
Pests and Diseases: scale insects, spider mites and algal leaf spot
Propagation: Sow seed in containers in a cold frame or under glass either in autumn or as soon as ripe. Root greenwood cuttings in early summer or semi ripe cuttings in mid or late summer. Layer in spring.
Native to: China
Winter Sowing Zones: none
Notes for Identification:

Banana shrub (Michelia figo) is an evergreen woody plant with multiple stems making it a rounded, bushy, freely branching shrub. It produces elliptic-oblong to slightly obovate or oval leaves, 2-4 inches (5-10cm) long that are dark green above and paler beneath.

 Not particularly fast growing. May be pruned after blooming, but is most impressive when allowed to grow to natural size and shape. Although scale might develop, it is easily controlled. Nursery specimens of banana shrub tend to look scraggly, but containerized plants thrive once they are liberated from their pots.   It is a beautiful and interesting large plant that is especially useful in shade gardens where it can serve as a background and windshield for smaller woodland plants. The fragrant banana scented flowers are fascinating in form and fragrance. When grown as an understory plant under the canopy of taller trees the open branching structure provides excellent perches for songbirds in pursuit of prey.   

Source: Various sources including Floridata, The American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants and the USDA

USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12
Seed photo: 0
Located in: Trees, Shrubs
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