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Monday, June 20, 2016

A Year of Growing Musa xishuangbannaensis "Mekong Giant" in Zone 7

This photo was from when I first planted my Mekong Giant in late June 2015. I got this plant off Ebay and could not be happier with the size and health of the plant. As soon as it was planted in the ground it took right off which is rare from my experience with banana plants.

By September my Mekong Giant had more than doubled in height. The fence is 6 feet tall. Notice the reddish tint to the underside of the leaves. this is one characteristic that separates this species from Musa Basjoo, another very cold hardy banana. 

Mekong Giants seem to be slightly less tolerant of frosts than other bananas.

Here it is in mid November 2015 covered with burlap but still looking very green overall.

Over the winter I cooked my banana to death with christmas lights in an attempt to try and protect the whole stem. When I went to check on my plant in the middle of our winter cold, the stem was practically too hot to touch. The whole stem died back. I was not expecting to see my Mekong Giant ever again, but just a few weeks ago I saw this...

That banana pup was over a foot away from the dead mother plant. Another defining characteristic of Mekong Giants are their long rhizomes so their pups are often feet away from the mother plant. Here's how my Mekong Giant looks now in the middle of June 2016, almost a year from when it was first planted. It is now 2 smaller plants instead of one large plant. 

I think this year will be a great year for my Mekong Giant bananas because although it is smaller than this time last year, it's growing very quickly. It has grown nearly 4 leaves in just a month. I probably will not be giving these plants any heated protection this winter.

Thanks for looking!

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