As long as I can remember there has always been a yard full of bananas. The bananas were there every year and since everybody knew they were tropical, what was the story? Along Forest Glen Road by Holy Cross Hospital in the late 60's and early 70's bananas grew along the street front, In Bowie on 197 on a big hill just a bit off of Route 50, in the 80's there were the bananas and a tractor! One garden in Lanham in the 90's so overflowed with bananas and chenille plants and generosity that they spilled over for blocks on every side.
Now I am that man. But I'm not exactly. I don't have to dig mine every fall and trundle them into the basement in trash bags for the winter. Musa basjoo is completely hardy here. It makes big clumps, grows to about 15' high and occasionally fruits after a particularly warm winter allows the trunk to survive the cold. More usually the plants die almost to the ground but still grow to over 10' in one growing season. It produces offset freely usually after its first year in the ground.
The offsets are the problem. It is such a handsome boldly textured plant almost noble in the simplicity of its line. And it seems so right here in our subtropical summers. It is too tempting to move the offsets around. I can't help myself.
This year I have decided to take a chance and put another banana into the ground to winter over. Musella lasiocarpa,The Chinese Yellow Banana, is a beautiful smaller plant that at some point produces odd "Little Shop of Horrors" flowers. It is supposed to be hardy here and there is a plant in "China Valley" at the Arboretum that has been there for at least 5 years. I have had this plant for three years, moving it in and out every year. It produced such a number of offsets that I divided this year. I gaveaway most of the divisions, reserved one for Florida and one to winter over inside, and planted the Mother plant in the garden undeer Yucca rostrata. We shall see.