I have decided to embrace my tropical side. Every year I moan about the hot, humid summer; I lament the passing of spring; I fuss about heat stressed perennials. No more. I now realize that I live in the best of all climates. The fact is, I can have it all.
Winter? Sure. Just a touch of arctic air, enough to justify a winter wardrobe, and once in a while snow, just enough for it to be a delight rather than a burden. Spring? Absolutely wonderful. Fall? The land glows with colors of the sunset as aging plants prepare for dormancy. Cooling temperatures, football!
And summer. Summer here has a tropical edge. It is not for wimps. It is steamy and full of creatures that fly and slither and make strange noises all night. We are not quite in the tropics, but there is enough of the jungle flavor to give one a taste. Many exotic plants thrive in the heat and moist air. So I have had an attitude adjustment; I have gone bananas!
I recently planted the ornamental red banana plant, Ensete ventricosum 'Maurellii', beside my patio. This plant is fun to photograph! The back of the huge leaves are burgundy, and the tops are tinted in shades of red, green, and yellow.
There are many cultivars of red banana. Some will grow up to 25 feet tall and will produce delicious fruit in frost-free climates. In my climate I doubt mine will grow much larger than 8 feet, as it will stop growing when temperatures cool in the fall. It is not frost hardy. I could cut it back, then dig up the corm and store it inside till next year. But it will probably survive outdoors here if the stalk is cut to the ground and the plant is heavily mulched for the winter, and that is what I am planning to do.
All banana plants need heat and moisture. They should be planted in humus rich, well draining soil. They need to be watered several times a week and need to be fertilized every month with a high nitrogen, organic fertilizer. They do best in full sun, though some will grow in partial shade, especially in the hottest climates. Their beautiful leaves are subject to wind damage, so a sheltered location is best.
The red banana plant is one of several tropical plants I have added to my garden, so I am saying a hearty welcome to summer. (But give me a fan and a tall glass of iced tea, please!)