Machareina sinclairii TWIGRUSH, KNIFE RUSH, PEPEPE Strybing Arboretum grow this grass-like plant for its clean, wonderfully rich green, wide, glossy leaves and graceful, tassle-like summer seed heads. Rhizomatous, clumping habit, foliage reaches about 2' tall by 3' wide (broader with age), flower spikes can reach 3' tall. Quite dramatic sited on slopes or above walls, where the leaves and tassles can hang down. Cut it down every year or two, or groom out old culms and stalks. Makes a good container plant for a year or two, but will soon outgrow its pot. Nice specimens can be seen at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. Sun to full shade, almost any soils, intermittent or infrequent watering to very wet sites. Native to New Zealand, Malaysia. Cyperacea. This genus is comprised of perennial, rhizomatous sedges, all distinguished by their wide leaves. Distributed from Australasia westward through the Pacific to American tropics and the Caribbean. The ubiquitous sawgrass of the Everglades is M. jamaicense. rev 9/2018
Mahonia aquifolium OREGON GRAPE flowers winter color closeup of maroon winter color characteristic orange older leaves evergreen shrub to 5-6’ tall valued for glossy, divided, toothed leaves and short, narrow spikes of small yellow flowers massed at tops of stems in spring. Clusters of dark blue black berries follow. A bonus with all Mahonias is that a substantial fraction of the leaves turn hot orange, crimson, or red in fall. Great for part or full shade with little or no summer watering, frost hardy. An excellent accent plant in dry shade gardens. Pacific Coast. Berberidaceae.
'Arthur Menzies' seedlings parent plant seedlings this is a popular plant in the Pacific Northwest, considered a faster, larger form of M. lomariifolia. For us the seedlings, which we sell in lieu of the parent, have been bluer and actually much more compact. All produce stunning flowers, some tinting towards orange, followed by heavy crops of very attractive dark blue berries, and grow with somewhat variable leaves and habits but are essentially all mostly shorter and stouter copies of the parent. This was a cross of M. beali and lomariifolia done by Arthur Menzies of Strybing Arboretum in 1961. Part sun to mostly shade, quite drought tolerant when established. Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24/USDA zone 8. rev 10/2017
‘Compacta’ foliage like the standard form, but to only 2-3’, with a tighter, denser habit and larger, very dark green, leathery leaves. Spreads very slowly by stolons. Flowers and berries are not as showy. The leaves tend to have a dull finish and are somewhat narrow. This variety will eventually fill in to form dense banks of foliage. It is very good as a drought tolerant shade to half sun groundcover but it looks best with at least some summer water and it is a slow grower. rev 1/2010
bealei CHINESE MAHONIA. LEATHERLEAF MAHONIA at Quail Botanic Gardens fall color on the leaves a vastly underappreciated and underused foliage plant for California. Here it is mostly supplanted nowadays by M. lomariifolia, which offers a somewhat better flower show and still-wonderful but much denser, bluer and more prickly foliage. The leaves on this species are much larger (to 18") with broader, darker green leaflets that have fewer, slightly softer spines. In cold or stressed conditions the leaves can become suffused with warm gold, orange, and red tones, even deep burgundy, and hold the color until rosettes of new foliage push out over them. The showy, condensed, central vertical flower spikes are more relaxed than in M. lomariifolia, enhancing the more casual, interesting foliage applications of this species. The sweetly fragrant, bright yellow flowers set a similar heavy crop of large, quite ornamental blue-black berries - birds love them. This top notch plant that makes a great foliage or focal point subject here, and seems to show none of the problems it displays in East Coast gardens, namely suckering and spreadingly invasively by seed. This is one of the treasured few plants which can take either extremely dark, deeply shaded situations or almost full sun. It is quite tough enough to endure high impact commercial landscape situations such as shopping centers, and the spines can be advantageous in discouraging trespassing etc. Average drainage requirements, very drought tolerant when established, especially in shade. China. rev 2/2018
eurybractea a compact evergreen species that bears large, very delicate, finely-cut dark blue green leaves. China. rev 2/2019
'Beijing Beauty' PP29095P3 first crop bronzy new foliage narrow, slightly prickly, glossy dark blue green leaves in horizontal whorls along the stem. Small light yellow flowers are held in short, dense, terminal upright spikes in the middle of the upper leaf rosettes in winter. Dark blue berries with a whitish coating add interest and draw birds. To 4-5' tall and wide, probably larger in areas with warm, humid summers. Habit is dense, compact, formal-looking. Great for short hedges, as a texture plant or even massed groundcover. USDA zone 7. rev 2/2019 *New for 2019!*
'Soft Caress' PP20183 soft, delicate leaves this Sunset Collection variety is a very fine-textured selection, with long, ultra-narrow, spineless (!!) leaflets well-separated along the 12" long, very dark blue green mature leaves. The foliage sprays occur in flat whorls discretely spaced on the stems, looking much like bamboo or its close relative Nandina. In indirect light the mature foliage often shows a nice silvery or greyish sheen. Short, upright, narrow spikes densely packed with deep golden yellow flowers appear in winter on mature plants, possibly throughout the year following cool periods as well here in our nursery climate, if they're like very other Mahonia we grow. (We haven't seen them yet, our first crops are still too young.) New growth is briefly bronzy, juvenile leaves are shorter, smaller-textured and have shorter, denser leaflets. The growth habit is compact, with plants reportedly reach 3-4' tall by ~3' wide within a few years. Use this against any backdrop which will highlight its leaf and stem structure, as a focal point plant, in containers or massed as a low-medium hedge. Best in part sun to shade, average soil requirements, average to moderate watering. Frost hardy to ~0F, USDA zone 7/Sunset 4-9, 14-24. rev 2/2019 *New for 2019!*
Mammillaria smaller growing, clumping, mounding to columnar cactus, most very easy to grow, with crowns of flowers usually in spring or summer. Cactaceae. North and Central America. rev 3/2013
plant cylindrical stems in a clump grow to a foot or more
and lean over to grow along the ground. Rings of red
violet flowers come every summer and turn to green fruit.
Will take some shade. Likes well drained soil and some
water in summer but will deal with the cold better in
winter if left dry. Try it in containers or even hanging
baskets. Sunset zones 17-24/USDA 10.
rev 3/2013-Suzy Brooks
gracilis fragilis THIMBLE CACTUS kind spines a tidy, clumping species with form-fitting white spines that are easy to touch. The nodular branch tips break off and root easily. Pale creamy yellow flowers bloom in late winter and spring. Easy to grow, becoming an ever-wider each year and reliably forming a nice specimen with age. Sun or part shade, water when dry from spring through fall. USDA zone 9. Central Mexico.
geminispina very nice cluster now that's nice! a white-spined clumper that has red fruit ringing the top after magenta flowers have done their job. Sun, good drainage, and a winter rest from water and you can add this beauty to your collection. Sunset zones 21-24/USDA 10. rev 6/2012-Suzy Brooks
melanocentra 4" plant meaning 'black central spine,' this is a solitary cactus, a blue green, squat grower with characteristic tufts of white furr between the tubercles, eventually reaching 5" tall by 8" wide on old speimens. Gets a ring of bright, deep pink flowers around the top third in the summer, that turn to pink or scarlet fruit. Likes water in the summer, in well drained soil, sun to part shade. From Mexico. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 9. rev 8/2012-Suzy Brooks
Mandevilla vines to scandent shrubs, related to Star
Jasmine. All make great container plants. Great choices for a
containers with some support. Take sun or part shade, like
regular watering. Protect from cold outside Sunset
zones 21-24/USDA 10. Apocynaceae. rev 6/2011
'Fire and Ice' PP23293 flowers and leaves intense true red flowers are not the only good thing about this shrubby vine; the green, cream, and pink leaves are just as showy. Great choice for placing against that overpriced obelisk you bought online! Or let it spill over a wall, or twine up a mailbox. rev 10/2013
'Red Fury' PP19698 trumpets fiery red flowers on glossy leaves that bloom spring through fall. A vining shrub, it can be trained on a trellis, growing to 6' or more, or pruned for shrubbery or in a hanging basket. Regular watering. Find a warm location in coastal areas and protect from cold outside Sunset zones 21-24/USDA 10. rev 7/2012-Suzy Brooks
SunParasol 'Crimson' PP 15539
a more vining Dipladenia type, with deep, true red
flowers. Easily the best red yet. Leaves are smooth and very
glossy. Still tender, but fast and with protection this should do
well around the Bay Area and warmer climates.
SunParasol 'Giant Crimson' PPAF flowers an improved red, larger than 'Crimson' but otherwise just as excellent. rev 7/2008
SunParasol 'Pretty Crimson' blooming can you get any redder? A form with the same striking, intense red flowers but smaller, and with shorter internodes. This makes a superior container plant and doesn't need be grown with support if you trim off the young stems that reach up. If you want vine form, tie those runners up. rev 4/2010
SunParasol 'Stars & Stripes' striped flowers red flowers with white stripes. An evergreen, vining shrub, growing 6-8' tall, and blooming until cold weather arrives. rev 7/2011
Manfreda maculosa TEXAS TUBEROSE, RATTLESNAKE AGAVE nice, spotted lawn soft, brittle leaves of olive green with faded purple spots in a low growing rosette. White, fragrant flowers appear in summer, then fade to dusky pink. Likes light shade, good drainage, and little watering once established. Good choice for mass plantings, groundcover. No worries about spines, there are none! Texas. Asparagaceae/Agvaceae. rev 3/2015-Suzy Brooks
Mangave a hybrid genus, refering to crosses, both natural and by humans, between any Agave and any Manfreda. Does not rhyme with Man-Cave, but it should! One of the hot new intergeneric hybrids, in this case it's all about those spots. rev 6/2016
'Bloodspot' hybrid spot vigor broad, soft, blue grey leaves are soft, with a single terminal spine. The "blood spots" develop the most contrast under full or mostly full sun exposure. Stays small and compact, rarely offsetting, and to about 12" tall and wide. Very narrow flower spikes reach 6' or more, bearing dark maroon flowers with very long, extruded, spidery stamens and stigmas. Does well in containers, or in your well-drained dry garden. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. rev 2/2016
'Macho Mocha' a real good look at those spots this Yucca-Do intro was a found wild plant, probably a hybrid of an Agave celsii with Manfreda variegata, which genus is itself close enough that it should really be considered just a winter-deciduous Agave. In favored climates (warm to hot summers) and favored sites (no snails) it supposedly can reach 6' across, but we've only seen it to about 4'. The soft, greyish green leaves are tantalizingly spotted with purple brown, often heavily enough to suggest it's "chocolate" name. Flower stalks are very thin but strong, reach over 6' tall, and bear short-tube flowers that extrude long, spidery stamens and stigmas. Sun to part shade, average to good drainage, remember about those snails, should be hardy to around 10F at least. Mexico. rev 6/2016
Matteucia orientalis ASIAN OSTRICH FERN at UC Berkeley Botanic Garden reverse view I spotted this wonderful fern growing in a naturalistic setting while I was wandering through the Asian section at UC Berkeley Botanic Garden. It mistook it for a native fern. It is quite attractive, being dark green, of moderate size (24-30" tall by 4-5' across), with a neat, attractive, clean apearance, and broad, generous fronds. I finally found a source and I am glad to be able to offer a crop. This would make a good addition for any garden where you want to evoke a formal or woodland feeling. It is outstanding under trees or along streams, ponds, etc. as well as in containers. Under long day conditions it produces fertile fronds, blackish, narrow, spike-like things clustered in the center of the rosette, that are quite attractive and ornamental. This is a very frost hardy plant, deciduous for a couple of months in winter, emerging about mid March. It clusters but doesn't really run in our climates, gets larger and more imposing with age, and is just generally a very satisfying fern. This is a hot plant! This is a collector's item. I am guessing Sunset zones 4 (or lower)-9, 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 7 or lower. Polypodiaceae.China, Japan. rev 9/2009
Maytenus boaria ‘Green Showers’ MAYTENS TREE shopping center landscape Pacific Grove neat weeping evergreen tree to 30’ tall and wide. A clonal variety introduced by Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation, it offers dense, bright green foliage. Unlike seedling crops, plantings of this uniform, cutting grown, clonal variety have a lush, uniform look in the landscape. Offered as single stem or multistem. Chile. Celastraceae.
Mazus radicans up close and personal little, olive green leaves with darker markings spread along the ground in rich, moist soil and host white and blue flowers in summer. Takes some foot traffic, especially if planted between stepping stones. Nice groundcover for large containers or any well-drained spot with sun or part shade. Less than 6" tall. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24/USDA 5. rev 7/2014
Melaleuca incana GREY HONEY MRYTLE early spring flowers soft, fuzzy needle-like leaves a re-intro from our early years. This very soft-looking, soft-feeling, fine-textured evergreen shrub or small tree reaches an open, flat-topped to somewhat pendant 6-10' tall and wide. It bears short tubular clusters of lemony to light golden yellow flowers in late winter, close to the branch-tips, with purplish new growth as an additional feature afterwards. Last grown here in the early '90's, we think it's appeal has grown lately. Sun or light shade, very little summer water when established. Cut back by an hard freezes below 25F, recovers quickly by pushing looooong plumes of superior-quality, especially nice juvenile foliage, commercially grown harvested for in cut arrangements. Focal point plantings, screens, hedges. USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 9, 15-17, 21-24. Australia. Myrtaceae. rev 3/2019
a stunning foliage plant, with bold, glaucous,
grey green serrated leaves, and tall, rich reddish
brown flower spikes appearing in late winter and
spring. Sun to part shade, grows quickly to 6-12"
tall, 8-10' wide, upright to sprawling. USDA zone
7 (deciduous)/Sunset 8-9, 12-24. South Africa. Melianthaceae.
excelsa 'Gala' VARIEGATED NEW ZEALAND CHRISTMAS
foliage a compact variegated shrub,
very eventually a small tree. This form is the reverse
of the more common edge-variegated form, with mature
leaves showing light golden yellow centers surrounded by
deep green, both with a greyish tomentose cast.
Juvenile-phase foliage is highly glossy, bright
chartreuse yellow against spring green, and held on
showy coral red stems. Mature plants probably will
flower at some point since the other variegated form
does, but rarely, probably just due to having less
chlorophyll. Old leaves turn bright orange red before
they drop, and are probably showier anyway. Full sun to
part shade, protect from hard freezes. New Zealand.
Myrtaceae. rev 3/2019
flowers and foliage
somewhat like M.
figo, and sometimes listed as a variety of that species,
with larger leaves that are much darker green and finely quilted
with veins, and with much larger, open, creamy white flowers to 3"
across that are showy but barely fragrant, having a faint lemony
scent somewhat like that of Magnolia
grandiflora. An open to eventually moderately dense
spreading evergreen shrub to about 10-15' tall, blooming over a
very long period. Sun to part shade, rich, moist soil, average to
very infrequent summer watering. USDA zone 8, Sunset zones 5, 8-9,
14-24. China. Magnoliaceae. rev 6/2005
‘Port Wine’ a selection with darker maroon flowers. Doesn't seem to be quite as fragrant.
Microlepia strigosa LACE FERN soft, blue green fronds nicest patch I know of, at Strybing Arboretum a fast growing evergreen fern to 3’ tall, spreading slowly by underground runners. Triangular fronds are tripinnate (divided many times) with a soft, fine texture. While reportedly drought tolerant, this fern is best used in shade with average watering and fertilizing, where it can form large, lush, dense banks of soft blue green foliage highlighted by chartreuse frond margins and new growth. When well grown it looks so nice you just want to lay down and roll in it. Probably damaged below 25°F. Part shade to shade, average to little summer watering. Eastern Asia. Polypodiaceae. rev 10/2010
evergreen epiphytic or lithophytic ferns, clumping or running,
native to tropical and subtropical regions from Africa through
Southeast Asia, Australasia and east to islands in the
mid-Pacific. Synonomous with Phymatosorus and Phymatodes,
and some species were formerly listed as Polypodium.
Polypodiaceae. rev 12/2017
diversifolium (pustulatum) KANGAROO FERN mature phase, Munich Zoo juvenile phase SFO International Terminal leaves roots traveling roots a medium sized evergreen fern with large, very dark green, glossy, pinnate leaves to over 12" long. It is a tough and forgiving commercial interiorscape variety. Depending on the spore source this species can supposedly take temperatures down to about 25F but roots will not tolerate long periods of cold, wet soils. Barbara Jo Hoshizaki states that "it is grown outdoors in the warmer parts of England." She also lists the current best name as being M. pustulatum, but that is just so crude we're sticking with the apt diversifolium: the short, thin juvenile foliage is quite dissimilar from the long, leathery adult phase. Full shade, water well until established and intermittently afterwards. Fully established plants can tolerate light seasonal drought but don't push it too far. Most forms we've received have been devastated as young plants by any temperatures even approaching freezing. Australia, New Zealand. rev 2/2019
scolopendria EAST INDIA POLYPODY juvenile foliage a more tropical species, not cold tolerant enough to survive outdoors almost anywhere in California, at least not while looking good as well. It has longer, slightly more irregular fronds, and also is faster under warm conditions. That makes it a little better as an indoor plant, and maybe for your porch or patio if it's a really, really nice porch or patio. Shade, regular watering etc. Old World tropics. rev 12/2017
Mimulus (Diplacus) 'Jelly Bean' series Dark Pink Gold Orange Red mix Fiesta Marigold this is the late, great Rich Pershoff's mind-blowing Jelly Bean Mimulus (Diplacus) line. Flowers are freely produced from spring well into fall. Pacific Plug and Liner, a local plug grower and Spring Trials host, maintained around their entrance for several years a few very large combo pots containing many of Rich's varieties. None ever dropped out, or as far as I can remember, even stopped blooming. In fact they all just got bigger and better every year until those pots were replaced. Rich's breeding results are a great example of what can happen with finely directed domestication selection. Simply by breeding successive generations of the last few remaining plants in each seedling block he was able to progressively to reduce or eliminate most production and garden problem, such as rotting out, sticky leaves that hold onto debris, extreme branch brittleness, foliage problems from overhead watering, etc. These Jelly Beans are all really grower- and gardener-friendly, they are reliably showy, and hummingbirds adore them. About 18" tall and wide, give them sun, good to average drainage, and average to very little summer watering. USDA zone 8/Sunset zones 7-9, 14-24. California native species alone were used to create these hybrids. Phyrmaceae or Scrophulariaceae. rev 10/2016
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yaku Jima’ DWARF MAIDEN GRASS deciduous grass to 3-4’ tall bears short, compact feathery flower spikes followed by curved seed heads. The flower stalks are held above the foliage in a very vertical manner, the seed heads are retained well into winter or the following spring. One of the main reasons this one is used is because of its small scale relative to many other varieties of Maiden Grass. Sun to part shade, average to little summer watering, frost hardy. Eastern Asia. Graminae/Poaceae.
Muehlenbeckia axillaris full bud and bloom bright green mat to about 6-12" tall that spreads relatively slowly by underground stolons. This is a much more compact, well behaved, polite relative of the attractive but hyperactive Wire Vine, M. complexa. It is pretty hardy, but will be deciduous in areas with harder winters. Flowers are almost unnoticeable. Sun to mostly shade, average to occasional summer watering. New Zealand. Polygonaceae.
'Cabaret' foliage detail bold creamy white vertical stripes. In its purest form it exhibits a broad central white stripe and only a very thin of green midrib, and thin green leaf margins. However this usually drifts to some degree, becoming a series of parallel lines, and eventually it transforms itself into 'Cosmopolitan' if you don't rogue out the reversions. Rather wide leaves to 1 1/2" across, vigorous growth to 6' or more. Leaves are moderately arching in habit. rev 8/2006
‘Cosmopolitan’ garden full size leaves wall a large scale, large textured variegated form, with leaves to over 11/2" across, 3' long, and growing to over 6' counting flower spikes. This plant can be used as a Phormium analogue in landscapes. The leaves tend to have variegated margins and usually show about 50% or more of their surface as white. rev 4/2005.
‘Morning Light’ nice clump Frontierland an interesting vertically variegated form, this one recognized by its ultra thin greyish leaves which have white leaf margins plus a central white stripe. The overall effect is of a frosty, light, almost grey green, wispy clump. To 4'.
'Yaku Jima' clump very dwarf, to about 24-36", very fine. rev 8/2005
‘Zebrinus’ foliage the best horizontally variegated variety? Slower growing than ‘Strictus,’ but with a much more relaxed look and nicer color contrast. To about 4', with broad green leaves marked with pairs of creamy yellow slashes, somewhat like chevrons. This is a fantastic container plant, especially in burgundy, green or dark blue glazed pots. rev 4/2005
transmorissonensis EVERGREEN MISCANTHUS backlit, Mills Garden forelit, Mills Garden a moderate size, large textured clumping evergreen grass to 4’ tall, 5’ wide. Flower stalks reach 5-6’ tall, appear in late spring and last through summer. The flower/seed heads are rather robust and are held erect. Wide green leaves have a distinctive whitish central vein. This plant does a lot of what Pampas Grass does without actually being Pampas Grass. It doesn't get too big, has a nicer overall, shinier look, doesn't seed itself all over creation, and doesn't cut you like a knife when you get near it. But it is big and moves nicely in the wind. Surprisingly, Art Cameron of MSU informs me this plant is hardy and reliable in Michigan, resprouting readily from the roots after winter. Taiwan. rev 5/2005
Muhlenbergia clumping perennial grasses,
evergreen to facultatively deciduous, large scale. Mostly great
ornamentals. Graminae/Poaceae. rev 6/2006
capillaris PINK MUHLY GRASS modest flower display nice foliage at UC Davis fine textured grey green foliage then quite airy plumes of pinkish flowers appear like a mist over the clumps in late spring. Very drought tolerant, but doesn't bloom well in cool summer areas. Sun, infrequent watering. Sunset zones 3-9, 12-24/USDA zone 6. rev 11/2012
lindheimerii TEXAS MUHLY, GULF COAST MUHLY at Sierra Azul Nursery at UC Berkeley this is a Texan version of our own familiar Deer Grass, but with a wider, bluer grey leaf and a more open, airy display of the flower stalks. The stalks themselves are tinged purple when blooming then are retained and age to silver by late summer. It is also lower and a little more garden tolerant, coming from a region with summer rainfall. Think of it as a Helictotrichon scaled up. It makes a great focal point plant and can also be used as a massed groundcover. It looks great with boulders. Sierra Azul Nursery has a couple of good examples in their demonstration garden. To about 3' tall, taller when blooming, 4' across, drought tolerant when established. Sun to part shade, best in soils of at least average drainage. Sunset zones 5-24/USDA zone 7. rev 6/2006
rigens DEER GRASS habit this clumping native perennial grass bears very thin, arching grey green leaves to 3' long. Stiffly erect, very thin flower stalks appear in late spring and last through winter. It is one of our most distinctive native grasses, probably the largest, and looks great near large rocks or planted in groups or even en masse. The old seed stalks remain as ornamental features long after the seed has scattered. Sun to part shade, little or no summer watering when established. Very frost hardy. California. rev 10/2003Musa, ornamental species and varieties (for edible varieties see Banana) evergreen tropical and subtropical perennials, ranging from dwarf species and selections (under 3') to absolutely gi-normous specimens (50' and more, in the case of the stupendous M. ingens from New Guinea). They provide an unmatchable and irreplaceable tropical foliage effect, especially for their dramatic foliage but also their quite showy flowers. All pup before or after flowering and continue to grow a carpet of roots and pseudotrunks that form what is known as a "mat." Some will freeze down but survive considerable frost, and are grown as deciduous perennials as far north as Seattle and the upper-central Midwest. Southeast Asia. If flowering is desired (vs. continuous production of more pups) see instructions for doing the same with edible bananas. Musaceae. rev 8/2017
'Bordelon' why you grow it foliage closeup translucent foliage found in Bordelonville, Louisiana. This variety is an ornamental of supposed edible banana parentage, but its origin is circumspect and it is assumed to be a hybrid. It may be a cross with the very red-striped variety known in the trade as Sumatran Banana, M. sumatrana ‘Zebrina,’ A.K.A. M. ‘Rojo,’ a notoriously slow, difficult, frost tender and somewhat cold sensitive plant even for Southern California. ‘Bordelon’ has green leaves striped with burgundy, and burgundy undersides. It is supposed to be a good cool grower and should be a great, more dependable substitute for true Sumatran Banana. rev 4/2017
basjoo JAPANESE FIBER BANANA in Portland Glasshouse Works garden - Athens, Ohio mature mat in spring, Richard Josephson's, Santa Cruz flower and fruit spike wonderful columnar trunks at Strybing Arboretum a hardy (zone 5-6) banana, probably THE most cold hardy banana species. This species will survive snow and great amounts of cold, acting as a giant deciduous perennial. Unlike most other bananas, the foliage can take down to freezing or even slightly below without damage. Its trunks are know to take mid twenties before beginning to freeze down. In fact, one grower I know in the Pacific Northwest summed it up when he said “If it isn't freezing, it's growing.” It will reach 8-12' tall in one growing season with enough heat, water, and fertilizer, and can go close to 20' at maturity. In mild climates, it will overwinter and the stands look much like any other banana. While leaves will survive light frosts, they tend to get badly tattered during winter storms, and plants are probably best at least partially cut back early in spring in most situations. Like most bananas, it probably forms its flower stalk the first year and it emerges and continues the reproductive cycle the second year. If it doesn't freeze down, you may see typical banana flowers and small, seedy, essentially inedible fruit. All bananas seem to appreciate a warm situation, and if you are in the cool coastal belts, you should site this plant so it receives at least some direct sunlight in winter. This species will reportedly take 0°F without protection and -20°F with thick mulch. But unless you are in a very cold area where this species' extreme hardiness will be of value, why not try one of the fruiting types, which will look as good or better and may reward you with fruit as well? This species is actually not the real “Japanese Fiber Banana,” M. balbisiana is. And it is not really from Japan, it is from China. In fact, no bananas are truly native to Japan; even M. balbisiana is an introduced species there. USDA zone 7. rev 8/2017
sikkimensis Ruby Dragon Fire-Breath DARJEELING BANANA striped young leaves seed parent-plant at my house mature leaves flower spike an even more intensely colored strain than the famous "Red Tiger," which we sold about ten years ago. This is one of the best and most dramatic ornamental species available, and one of the most cold-tolerant as well. It features wonderful, deep maroon stripes (a la M. sumatrana 'Zebrinus') and undersides on the youngest foliage, and occasionally on mature leaves as well but much fainter. It is a very large, fast grower where well sited, with pseudotrunks growing to 15-18' and leaves adding another 6' or so more. New pseudotrunks spread the clump slowly outwards, eventually forming large colonies where happy. Mature plants can produce a long, arching to pendant flower spike, very showy with its very large, maroon and dark golden bracts and prominent central column of maroon bud bracts. Plants readily set fruit but those aren't edible, being fully packed with seeds. This species is grown as far north as Portland without special attention, and even Seattle if mulched. Where the trunks freeze it regrows to about 10' each year but doesn't flower. I've had a large grove at my house in Santa Cruz for over 15 years and it brings more tropical vibe and ambience to the yard than any other plant. Sun to mostly shade, moderate to little direct watering when established (those trunks are storage tanks). Our plants are grown from seed produced by my own single garden specimen (the reddest of all our original seedlings) and only the reddest of those are sold under this name. This also means supply is very limited. USDA zone 7/Sunset zone 5, 8-9, 14-24. Himalayas. rev 8/2017 *New (again!) for 2017!*
sumatrana 'Zebrinus' young plant also sold as Musa 'Rojo' and Musa zebrinus, this is a tender subtropical variety that is slow and cranky under the best conditions, even in Southern California. Give it your warmest, most protected spot and it will do pretty well, but expect to lose it in protracted, cold, wet winters. Even if it doesn't die it can languish in cold or shady conditions and emerge with new growth quite late in spring. Its best application is probably in a container, where it can be moved to its most seasonally advantageous situation and protected from the worst a cold winter has to offer. Its leaves are the best of any currently available banana, being a deep, tropical olive green splashed with intense maroon, even on the older growth. Even if you have to replace it every few years it is unparalleled at making a tropical statement in a landscape. It is normally small-statured, under 10' tall and with only a few psuedotrunks. USDA Zone 9/Sunset zone 17, 21-24, or in protected containers anywhere. rev 4/2017
yunnanensis YUNNAN BANANA, FOREST BANANA distinctive, waxy, white petioles graceful, arching habit, with '68 Ford LTD young flower spike new mature leaf, young plant another highly sought after, highly ornamental, graceful, moderate size, cold-tolerant species from high elevation Yunnan Province in China. It is recognized by long, dark green, ribbed and usually folded leaves held partway out on long petioles which arch over gracefully over. It also has a characteristic, beautiful, white, waxy coating on the petioles and upper trunk, blackish marking on the leaves and pseudotrunks and long, sinuous flower spikes featuring a thin, extended central bud column. In hot, humid, partly shaded conditions the leaves are held flat but in full sun and cool, dry, coastal California the blades usually fold over neatly at the midrib. At my house orioles regularly use those folded leaves as sites for building their hanging-basket nests. Pseudotrunks are thinner and not so tall on this modest-sized species, so it's not likely to outgrow its spot. Originally purchased and sold as M. itinerans by us about ten years ago, this tightly clumping form was separated and formally described in 2008. As with M. sikkimensis Ruby Dragon, above, all our production derives from seed harvested from the single plant in my own home garden, so supply is intermittent and very limited. USDA zone 7 or 8/Sunset zones 5, 8-9, 14-24 rev 4/2017 *New (again!) for 2017!*
Musella lasiocarpa CHINESE YELLOW BANANA, ROCK BANANA, “YELLOW LOTUS EMERGING FROM THE MOTHER EARTH” BANANA amazing 14" flower blue leaves, clumping habit silver raindrops nursery plants, cut back and dormant in winter