The golden lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa) in our front yard is one of my favorite plants in the summer when its bluish green paddle leaves bring a tropical flair to our garden.
|Musella lasiocarpa last August|
Last year our Musella lasiocarpa flowered for the first time. The inflorescence lasted for a long time—all the way into early winter, in fact.
|Inflorescence on 6/28/11|
|Inflorescence on 8/1/11|
The actual flowers are the tiny things poking out of the yellow bracts
Its looks belie its cold-hardiness. While the leaves die back the first time we have a freeze, the corm itself is reported to be hardy to 10°F. However, in the winter Musella lasiocarpa is not exactly pretty to look at. The larger the clump gets, the more dead leaves there are.
|Tangle of dead leaves this morning before I removed them|
The inflorescence, so magnificent just a few months ago, is now a study in browns.
|Inflorescence in late winter|
The skirt of overlapping bracts below the inflorescence is actually quite beautiful, in an understated way.
Today, I decided that I didn’t want to look at the tangle of brown leaves anymore. Armed with pruners and a sharp bread knife, I did an Edward Scissorhands number on the clump. Since the pseudostem dies after flowering anyway, I cut it as close to the ground as I could using a bread knife—it sliced through the tissue as if were butter (it’s 90% water).
|Cleaned up clump|
|What’s left of the pseudostem that had flowered|
While it looks like there will be a big hole in the middle of the clump, the pseudostems on the outside will produce new leaves very quickly. By mid-summer you won’t be able to tell the difference.
To make sure our golden lotus banana gets off to a good start, I spread composted chicken manure all around the clump and worked it into the top of the soil. Hopefully we’ll get a few more decent rain storms soon. The extra water and the warmth of spring will lead to explosive new growth.
Musella lasiocarpa has been widely available the last few years. If you live in zone 8 or above, why don’t you give it a try?