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Siam Ruby competes for most exotic banana
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Move over Red Abyssinian, there is a new banana in town – the Siam Ruby. Siam Ruby showed up at garden and patio shows and local garden centers last year, and quickly found favor with tropical plant nuts like me.
Before I go further, please know I am still a fan of the Red Abyssinian. It is just that the Siam Ruby is so colorful, you can’t pass it up. The trunk and leaves of this exotic tropical are burgundy with irregular iridescent lime green variegation in the foliage.
The Siam Ruby has become a popular banana as blogs and garden Web sites have been discussing its botanical name, the estimated height and the most important of all, how cold hardy it is.
The botanical name is Musa acuminata ‘Siam Ruby.’ There are scores of bananas that fall into that same genus and species. Many sources agree that this beauty will top out at around 8 feet. Mine was slightly shorter than that.
Most sources suggest it is cold hardy only to zone 9, so I had planned on digging mine up for a trip to the garage. This past winter was colder than the last two or three, and it froze before I had a chance to get it to the garage. We also did not provide our Siam Ruby any extra insulation at the MSU Experiment Station.
In both instances, the parent plant froze to the ground here in zone 8. I am delighted to report, however, that where we had one trunk, or pseudostem, we now have five. But before you celebrate too much, know that in both instances they were on raised beds where the drainage was good and they did not have to sit in soggy winter soil.
Siam Ruby pairs nicely with hostas like Guacamole or Cathedral Windows. In sunnier locations, it grows to its full potential and partners well with Electric Lime coleus, Gold Mound duranta or some of the new lime green grasses like Millium effusum Aureum.
Siam Ruby is the perfect thriller in a mixed container. Use Goldilocks lysimachia as your spiller and Million Bells Terra Cotta as a gently cascading filler. The combinations are really limitless -- let your imagination run wild.
Bananas grow like rockets once the weather warms up, and they respond well to fertilizer. They need supplemental water once rains become sparse. Also, be sure to add a good layer of mulch to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
Bananas are a lot of fun to grow and can make you feel as if you are on a relaxing Caribbean vacation. Why not shop for some this weekend?