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How To Grow a Banana Magnolia

If you love the smell of bananas, you might want to consider growing a banana magnolia tree in your garden. This evergreen tree, also known as Michelia figo or Magnolia figo, produces fragrant flowers that resemble small magnolias and have a sweet banana-like scent. 

The tree is native to China and hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10. A banana magnolia is a member of the Magnolia family, which includes many ornamental flowering trees and shrubs.

It has been cultivated for centuries as a garden plant. There are several cultivars of banana magnolia, such as ‘Port Wine’, which has maroon to rose-colored flowers, and ‘Purple Queen’, which has purple flowers. 

The plant can grow 6-15 feet tall and wide, depending on the growing conditions and pruning. It has an upright, oval shape and can be trained as a single-stemmed tree or a multi-stemmed shrub.

It has glossy, dark green leaves that are 2-4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, and are slightly fuzzy on the underside. 

The flowers are 1 inch across, cream-yellow with maroon edges, and appear in late spring or early summer. They have six tepals (petal-like structures) that fall off easily, revealing small red fruits that contain seeds.

A banana magnolia is also a great plant for attracting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden. They will appreciate the nectar and pollen from the flowers and help pollinate other plants in your landscape.

Here are some tips on how to grow a banana magnolia tree successfully.


Choose a sunny or partially shaded spot for your banana magnolia tree. The tree prefers acidic, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. 

You can amend heavy soil with peat moss and compost to improve drainage and acidity. 

The tree is moderately salt-tolerant, so it can be grown near the coast, but it needs protection from strong winds.


Plant your banana magnolia tree in spring after the last frost. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and as deep as the root ball of the tree. 

A banana magnolia is best grown in USDA zones 7-10, where it can enjoy warm temperatures and mild winters. It prefers full sun to partial shade, but needs protection from strong winds that can damage the flowers and leaves.

Place the tree in the hole and backfill with the original soil, making sure that the soil line from the nursery pot is slightly higher than the surrounding soil level. Tamp down the soil and water well. 

Add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.

Space the trees 12 feet apart if you want to create a hedge or screen.


Water your banana magnolia tree regularly during the first growing season to establish a deep root system. After that, water only when the top few inches of soil feel dry. 

Once established, the plant can tolerate some drought, but still needs occasional watering to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Avoid overwatering or letting the soil dry out completely, as both can cause stress and leaf drop.


Fertilize your banana magnolia tree once a year in early spring with a balanced fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants. Follow the label directions and apply the fertilizer around the drip line of the tree, not near the trunk. Water well after fertilizing.


Prune your banana magnolia tree in winter or early spring before new growth emerges. You can also shape the tree to your desired size and form by cutting back any long or unruly branches. Make clean cuts just above a bud or branch collar.

Pruning is not necessary for banana magnolias, unless you want to shape them or remove dead or damaged branches. Use sharp and clean tools to make clean cuts just above a bud or branch collar. Avoid cutting too much or too often, as this can reduce flowering.


A banana magnolia is a low-maintenance plant that does not require much pest control. However, some basic care can help keep it healthy and beautiful.

Banana magnolias are generally resistant to most pests and diseases, but they can occasionally be affected by scale insects or root rot. Scale insects are small, sap-sucking bugs that attach themselves to the stems and leaves of plants. They can cause yellowing, wilting, and dropping of leaves, as well as reduced growth and flowering. 

To control scale insects, spray the plant with horticultural oil or neem oil, following the label instructions. Root rot is a fungal disease that affects plants growing in poorly drained or overly wet soil. It causes browning, softening, and decay of roots, as well as wilting and dying of leaves and stems. To prevent root rot, make sure the soil is well-drained and avoid overwatering.

Growing a banana magnolia tree is not difficult if you provide it with the right conditions and care. It is a low-maintenance and attractive tree that will reward you with its delightful fragrance and beauty for many years.

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