Commonly known as the Darjeeling Banana, Musa sikkimensis is one of the most popular of all the ornamental forms within the genus, as well as being one of the most widely cultivated. While the true species displays yellow-green foliage like most other banana plants, they are an number of stunning colour morphs which place cultivars such as Musa Sikkimensis 'Red Tiger'.

Young purple striped green leaves of Musa sikkimensis 'Red Tiger'
Musa sikkimensis 'Red Tiger'
Native to both Bhutan and India, Musa sikkimensis is one of the highest altitude banana species. This has benefits for UK gardeners as it is arguably the hardiest species behind Musa basjoo and Ensete lasiocarpa.

Seed is relatively easy find in both good plant retailers and online seed specialists, just buy as fresh as you can to achieve the best rates of germination.

Before sowing your seeds soak for 24 hours in warm water. Then using a seed tray or large modular tray, fill with a good quality seed compost such as John Innes ‘Seed and Potting’. Using a dibber sow the Musa Sikkimensis seed ¼in deep, then backfill the hole with a little more compost. Water thoroughly, but allow the excess water to drain away before placing the tray in a heated propagator or sealing inside a clear polythene bag and placing in a warm bright area. If using a heated propagator set the temperature of around 28 degrees Celsius. Be aware that the germination of Musa Sikkimensis can be slow and erratic taking between 1-6 months to germinate.

Keep the compost moist but not waterlogged and once germinated improve ventilation as fungal infections can take hold on both the foliage and the root system.

Once the root system has established the seedlings can be potted on into 9cm pots and allowed to grow on in a warm, frost free position. Water well during the growing season and feed with a liquid soluble fertiliser every couple of weeks.

Main image credit - By Daderot - Own work, CC0,

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