Do I really need more of these?

Last weekend I took another trip to my friend Mike's garden. If you've been reading for a while, you know what happens when I go to Mikes: I dig up a bunch of plants, usually bamboo. Well I did get more plants, but they aren't bamboo.

They're specimens of the next two items on the list of plants I really have a lot of already: Elephant Ears, and bananas.


When Mike emailed and said he wanted to get rid of these and asked if I wanted them, I couldn't say no. That was even before I saw how large they were, and they're quite large.

The plants are a cold-hardy banana (Musa basjoo), and what he called "upright Elephant Ears" -- which I believe are Alocasia macrorrhiza, although there are other Alocasia species called "upright" too. The banana has two "trunks" and several pups:

And the Alocasia -- well, they're just huge!

I'm going to pot up the Alocasia, but that means making some potting mix, as I'm all out. It's going to be a heavier mix, as I'll be using soil from my yard (removed from the bamboo rhizome trench):

I'm out of compost so I'll just add a lot of peat moss and some perlite, and that should be fine. I'll be moving these guys into the garage and/or storing their "bulbs" pretty soon, so they don't really need to thrive -- super-nice, rich potting mix isn't required.

These leaves are just incredible, and show no wilting or other evidence that they've been dug out of the ground:

There are two of these plants, and the second one has several offsets already:

I'll remove the smallest two and pot them separately:

Here's one of the two main plants, all potted up:

It's really large, and fits right in with the jungle that's been created with large potted plants on my driveway. I love it!

The banana is next, and I'm going to remove the medium-sized offshoot, the one at the upper left of this image:

Just a few quick strokes with my sharp knife and the division is free:

It's about 2' tall and looks pretty nice in its pot:

The main plant is about 7' (2m) tall, quite heavy, and I have no idea how I'm going to get it down the hill into the back where a temporary planting hole awaits:

My view from the wheelbarrow. Big plant.

I finally determined that leaning the trunk against my head as I wheeled the barrow down the hill was the best way to proceed, and I expect it looked pretty funny.

The plant though looks anything but funny -- it's fantastic!

Instant tropics in this part of my yard, especially with the bamboo in the background:

Big leaved plants are essential in a garden, as they give the eye something "chunky" to focus on. This plant does that, even when seen from other parts of the yard:

Can easily be seen from the driveway. Nice!

I'm going to have to decide if I want to keep this plant in this spot, or find a more permanent location. Since it's cold-hardy it will survive our winters if well-mulched, so I'll have to plan. For now though, I'm just going to enjoy!

These are some fantastic new plants, even if I didn't need any more of them. Thanks Mike!


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Matthew –   – (September 21, 2011 at 7:52 AM)  

Great looking "tropicals", Alan! Basjoo is a true beauty and so cold-hardy, pretty carefree once it survives a winter or two!

Andrea  – (September 21, 2011 at 7:57 AM)  

It's really amazing that people from temperate countries try hard to plant tropical plants and vice-versa! We in the tropics try our best to grow and make those temperate plants flower here. It really looks like you are building a tropical jungle. Those Alocasia are growing in the wild in some areas here. Be careful not to touch its sap, very itchy. And you don't have to give it some rich soil because they thrive on anything except waterlogging.

Janet  – (September 21, 2011 at 8:00 AM)  

Mike sounds like a very good resource for plants (even if you don't need them).

Alan  – (September 21, 2011 at 8:17 AM)  

Andrea: we all want what we don't have. :-)

Janet: every gardener should have a friend who has been gardening long enough that they're tired of what they have and are drastically redoing beds.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (September 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM)  

Alan, you are so lucky to have a friend like Mike. These are stunning plants. Are you going to leave the Musa basjoo outside in the winter, protected in some sort of insulating cage?

Alocasia macrorrhiza sounds right. It looks just like mine. It truly is a magnificent plant. I love how stiff those leaves are.

:: Bamboo and More ::

TheGardeningBlog  – (September 21, 2011 at 4:39 PM)  

awesome plants!! they lok fantastic in your garden.

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