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Musella lasiocarpa

Chinese Dwarf Banana

Musella lasiocarpa is an exciting banana relative that comes from high altitudes (to frosty 2800m / 9200ft!) in the Yunnan province in China. The maximum height of the plant is only about 1.5m / 5ft, half of which is a very stout, conical trunk, topped by a crown of handsome, slightly glaucous, broad leaves. From early age, the rhizome produces many suckers. The "flower", which is big and bright yellow, appears in its second year, and grows upright at the top of the trunk. As the inflorescence grows in size, tiny 'bananas' begin to appear under each bract which curls back to reveal the fruits. Unfortunately inedible, the 2" long bananas each contain dozens of small, shiny jet black seeds. The seed requires cool stratification (abt. 5°C) but then germinates easily, and subsequent seedling growth is as you might expect, very fast. Musella appreciates heavy watering and feeding and a place in full sun. It will flourish in all climates from cool tropical down to temperate, where it will be found to be root hardy, enduring even cold winters with its underground rhizome, just like the well known "Hardy Banana", Musa basjoo. It also makes a perfect conservatory plant which will be a true conversation piece that certainly will not outgrow its location.

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germination comments by our visitors
For general germination instructions click here.

Also see plant cultivation comments below.

Seeds from this species ...

... are difficult to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Ok I broke my 100 seeds into 4 control groups. All seeds were stored in my fridge for 4 weeks prior to starting. Group A) A regular seed starting mix in a small pot under a light with a small amount of regular water to keep it moist. I soaked the seeds for 24 hours before planting.B) Soaked for 24 hours then a small nick in the side. Placed in a plastic baggie and hung in my grow room in front of a light. Kept moist. (65 degrees)C) Soaked for 24 hours placed in a 50 50 verm and perlite pot. Placed in a dark area with high heat 90 degrees. D) Soaked 48 hours in warm water. Placed in a 50 50 mix(vermiticulate and perlite again) in a plastic baggie and hung in the grow room with very little water and high heat. 90 degrees. Results at 3 months:Group A had NO GROWTH.Group B I had 2 seeds germinate at 7 weeks. The rest never did anything.Group C ALL GERMINATED BY 3 months. Earliest was 8 weeks.Group D 22 germinated starting at 6 weeks.
Submitted on 05/12/2013 by Rebecca Brown

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I bought 100 Musella Lasiocarpa seeds and put 50 in a baggie with well draining soilless mix and 20%sand added. I prepared the mixture with a little water to be just moist. I kept them at 90 to 95 deg.F. Germination started in 6 weeks. Received 24 seedlings within 2 months. The other 50 were placed in another baggie with the same mix but stored in the refrigerater for 6 weeks. When I took themout I kept them at 90 to 97 deg. F. the firstones started growing in 2 weeks I was so impressed that I finally had results after many previously failed attempts. The trick seems to be High heat and keeping the medium rather dry. It also seems to be abenefit to cold stratify, but that may not be necessary. I will be trying a second batch of 100 in the same way to see if the results are consistent.
Submitted on 06/06/2005 by Chris Wolfe wolfecbr@mail.ocis.net

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
100 seeds soaked in water with 300 ppm gibberelenic acid (06.03.05). 1 day warm 2 days at 4°C. Seeded low under surface and stored 14 days at 4°C. After 14 days kept warmth an sunny (35°C). Germination partly occur after 26 days (02.04.05).
Submitted on 10/04/2005 by Michael Nippgen VetMed-M.Nippgen@t-online.de

...difficult to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I've placed 6 seeds in a container with humus rich soil. The container was in my fridge for about 6 weeks. After that i've placed the container in a propagator at 25 Celsius. After 2 weeks 2 germinted and started to grow fast, the 4 others are still there...
Submitted on 25/01/2005 by filip hermans filip_hermans@yahoo.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Placed four seeds covered and moist in the fridge for 5 weeks. After taking the seeds out of the fridge, one seed took two weeks to grow to about 5 centimeters size. (I was away during this period so can't tell the exact germination time).Waiting for the other three
Submitted on 19/09/2003 by bram brbrbr@zonnet.nl

...difficult to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I've had a very hard time trying to get this seed to germinate i'm wondring if its possible
Submitted on 21/02/2003 by Elaine Terry elaineterry@ns.sympatico.ca

...difficult to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Very tricky to germinate. Make sure to first give them at least a month of cool temps before trying to germinate them. I put mine in plastic bags full of moist vermiculite, and placed them in the fridge for a little over a month. Then I took the seeds out and placed them on a heating pad. They've now been on the pad for over 2 1/2 months, making the total time to date around 3 to 4 months. They are currently being kept at about 30 degrees clesius, constantly. They are not the easiest seeds to germinate but are well worth the effort. Beautiful flowers if you can get them to grow, well worth the effort.
Submitted on 03/03/2003 by Paul Chafe p_chafe@hotmail.com

...very difficult to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I didn't have any luck with these seeds. They just rotted away, so I must have overwatered them or had bad seeds to begin with. I am trying a second batch to see if I have better luck.
Submitted on 11/12/2002 by Leslie Price skinnychick2@yahoo.com

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plant cultivation comments by our visitors
Also see germination commnets above.

Plants from this species ...

... are of average ornamental value
In East Bohemia in Czech Republic they need little care and grow fast.
This plant has been cultivated excellent five years, yet no flower so I hope to see an. Requires very nutritious substrate, each year transplanted into a larger container during growth requires abundant watering with fertilizer. It grows to a height of 1.5 m.Po flowering plant dies but before that caters to a number of new offshoots. Plant grown in the garden in the fall after the first frost cut all the leaves of a plant moving into a dark room with no frost which lasts until spring when it starts to sprout again
Submitted on 07/12/2013 by Olda Potucek

... are of average ornamental value
In Southampton in England they need much care and grow normal.
This seem to be the hardest banana I have had to grow in England, as it is often advertised as hardy, yet will not tolerate even a mild Endlish winter. This is almost certainly due to the wet in the winter as this is a slower growing species, the plant easily succumbs to rot in cold/wet weather. Therefore I have grown the plant in my heated greenhouse for a few years, where it has tolerated a temperature of 0c in relatively dry conditions with no damage. I water sparingly in winter, but fairly frequently in summer and don't allow to dry out for long. The plant seems happy in either full sun or partial shade, but has never properly recovered from my experiment of trying to grow the plant outside. I have had the plant for 5 years now however, and the slender blue-green leaves look good in the greenhouse amongst the other tropical foliage.
Submitted on 17/01/2009 by James Barnet

... are of average ornamental value
In London in England they need much care and grow fast.
I've managed to kill two of these. In each case, the plant weathered the frosts of a London Winter without major damage, but succumbed to basal rot as soon as the weather warmed up in Spring. I suspect that it is accustomed to dry, cold Winters in habitat and did not like the mulch-and-fleece protection that I provided for my small plants, nor the fact that they were competing with a clump of Hedychium densiflorum for light and air during Summer and Autumn. If I happen to acquire another one, I will treat it with benign neglect and give it no Winter protection at all and a good deal more space - something that is at a premium in my urban garden.
Submitted on 19/11/2005 by David Matzdorf davidmatzdorf@blueyonder.co.uk

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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