How to Care for Banana Bush – 7 Integral Tip

Forget what you know about mundane foliage; the Banana Bush has a suede-like swagger and a scent that’ll make you crave banana bread like never before.

This evergreen shrub loves space, so keep its style intact by overcrowding it with other plants. Ensure it receives bright, indirect sunlight and keeps the soil moist but not soggy – this plant appreciates a moderate watering routine.

My initial encounter with the Banana Bush (aka Port Wine Magnolia/Banana Shrub) occurred while employed at the nursery. Despite its substantial price tag, I instantly understood why this Magnolia family member commanded such value among other nursery specimens! 

The dual-toned leaves resembling suede and the delightful fragrance of its maroon flowers were unlike anything I had ever encountered. My Banana Shrub has become a prominent focal point in my entrance area, boasting earthy hues. 

banana bush

Table of Contents

Is Full Sunlight Necessary?

The Banana Bush (Magnolia Port Wine) thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Banana Shrubs do well in locations with plenty of natural light but are shielded from direct, harsh sunlight. 

banana bush flower close up

Ideally, place your Banana Shrub near a window with partial shade, or use a sheer curtain to diffuse the light if it’s in full sun. 

How Often Should I Water?

To keep your Banana shrub (Magnolia figo Port Wine) thriving, maintain a consistent soil moisture level without overwatering. To determine when it’s time to water, I check the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil – I water when it feels dry to the touch.

Remember to use room-temperature water and ensure proper drainage in the pot- sometimes, they need to remember to drill the holes properly! 

You may need to water more frequently during the spring and summer while reducing watering during the dormant period in fall and winter.

various different flowers on banana bush

What Soil Works Well?

A quality potting mix designed for indoor plants or a blend of peat moss and perlite works well for the Banana Shrub. This soil mix ensures that water doesn’t become stagnant around the roots, preventing the risk of root rot.

I’ve found making my indoor plant potting mix works a treat! Here’s how it’s done:


  • Peat moss: Provides moisture retention and a slightly acidic pH. Use 1 part.
  • Perlite: Enhances drainage and aeration. Use 1 part.
  • Coarse sand: Improves drainage. Use 1 part.
  • Well-decayed compost: Adds nutrients to the mix. Use up to 1/2 part.


Combine the peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand in a large container or bucket in the above proportions. If you choose to use compost, add it to the mix.

Thoroughly mix the ingredients until they are well combined. You want an even distribution of each component.

side view of flower of banana bush

Before potting your Banana Shrub, first moisten the mix slightly, ensuring it’s evenly damp but not soggy.

Then pot your Banana Shrub in a container with drainage holes. This homemade potting mix fills the pot around the plant’s root ball.

The final step is to water the plant lightly after potting, and monitor the moisture level to determine when it’s time for the next watering.

What Indoor Temperature Is Required?

The Banana Shrub thrives in moderate indoor temperatures, making it well-suited for typical room conditions.

Maintain indoor temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C) for the best growth and overall health. This range is comfortable for the Banana Shrub and mimics its native habitat.

many flowers banana bush

Avoid exposing your Banana Shrub to sudden temperature drops or drafts, as it can be sensitive to rapid changes in temperature.

During the Banana Shrub’s natural dormant period, typically in fall and winter, it can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures. Nevertheless, it’s best to keep it within the recommended range.

What Is Optimal Humidity?

Aim to maintain humidity levels between 40% and 60% for optimal growth. This range mimics the Banana Shrub’s natural environment.

If you live in a dry climate or during the winter when indoor air tends to be drier, consider using a humidifier in the room where your Banana Shrub is located. Alternatively, you can place a tray filled with water and pebbles near the plant to increase local humidity.

Provide your Banana Shrubs with regular misting using a spray bottle. Lightly mist the leaves with water to boost humidity around the plant.

Keep the Banana Shrub away from drafts, as they can increase evaporation and reduce humidity around the plant.

flowers opening on banana bush

When Do I Apply Fertilizer?

To keep your Banana Shrubs (Magnolia figo Port Wine) flourishing, feed them with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer (10-10-10 NPK) during spring and summer. Typically every 4-6 weeks. Dilute the fertilizer per the manufacturer’s instructions, and water the Banana Shrub with the mixture until it drains from the pot’s bottom.

Remember to reduce or cease fertilization during its dormant phase in fall and winter.

What’s the Best Propagation Method?

flowers budding banana bush

Propagating your Banana Bush (Magnolia figo Port Wine) can be rewarding to grow new plants.

Here’s a brief overview of how to propagate your Banana Bush through stem cuttings:

Stem Cutting Propagation

Firstly, Choose a healthy stem from the parent plant with no signs of disease or damage. It’s best to cut when the plant is actively growing during the growing season.

Secondly, cut a 4-6 inch (10-15 cm) section of the stem just below a leaf node (the point where a leaf attaches to the stem). Remove any leaves from the lower part of the cutting, leaving no flower buds and only a few leaves at the top.

Then, dip the cut end of the stem into a rooting hormone powder or gel to encourage root development. While this step is optional, it can enhance the success rate of propagation.

After that, place the cutting into a small pot filled with a well-draining potting mix, such as a mix of peat moss and perlite. Water the cutting lightly.

close up of purple banana bush flower

Cover the cutting and pot with a plastic bag or place them in a propagator to create a humid environment. This helps prevent excessive moisture loss.

Finally, place the cutting in part shade in a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the cutting.

Keep the soil moist but not soaked. Once roots have formed, you can transplant the new Banana Shrub into a larger pot.

About Banana Bush

The Banana Shrub or Banana Bush, sometimes called Magnolia figo Port Wine in botanical terms, is a compelling and unusual shrub.

It distinguishes itself from its green competitors with its distinctive brown leaf that resembles suede and its delicious fragrant flowers.

single flower of banana bush opening up

This evergreen shrub grows in a rounded habit, typically reaching 6 to 10 feet tall (1.8 to 3 meters), and is visually and olfactorily attractive. While not the origin of the familiar banana, it is a preferred option for decorative gardening due to its stunning appearance and aroma.

The Banana Shrub is slightly salt tolerant and renowned for its toughness and adaptability, flourishing in humid and moderately hot environments. 


Is there a Banana bush?

Magnolia Port Wine is also known as a Banana Shrub or Banana bush; it has brown, suede-like foliage and a fragrance reminiscent of bananas.

What is another name for a banana shrub?

Banana Bush or Magnolia figo are other names for the Banana Shrub due to the plant’s fragrance.

What is a banana tree called?

A banana tree is more accurately called a “banana plant” or “banana palm.” Bananas are not actual trees; they are large herbaceous plants.

What smells like bananas?

Several plants and fruits can have a banana-like scent. Besides the Banana Shrub (Magnolia Port Wine), the most well-known plant with a banana scent is the “Banana Plant” or “Banana Tree,” specifically the fruit produced by banana plants.

Can you eat bush banana?

Bush bananas are edible fruits in certain regions, such as parts of Australia. They are typically smaller than the standard Banana found in grocery stores. They have a unique flavor and are often used in traditional Indigenous Australian cuisine.

Is Bush banana edible?

Yes, Bush bananas are edible, but their taste and texture differ from the typical dessert banana. They are a source of food in some Indigenous Australian communities.

Is Bush banana a fruit?

The Bush banana is a wild fruit in some areas of Australia and is used in various culinary preparations.

One A-peel-ing Houseplant: The Banana Bush

The Banana Shrub is a fantastic eye-catcher with dark leaves resembling suede and creamy yellow blossoms with a mouthwatering banana aroma. This makes it a lovely addition to any mixed shrub border or as an indoor plant to add some tropical flair.

It’s pretty easy to take care of a Banana Shrub. It will appreciate it if you avoid drowning the roots, keep it in a sunny, indirect location free from excessive temperature changes, and feed it every four to six weeks.

Use its fruity scent by putting it in a location where your visitors can enjoy it, and they’ll think of your house as a tropical haven!

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Alex Tinsman
An avid plant and flower lover! Ever since he was little, plants, flowers, and shrubbery of all kinds filled his life. Alex credits this fascination with nature's beauty to his mother and grandmother who were - and still are - dedicated gardeners. It's now Alex's mission to pass that same love for plants onto others and show them it's as easy as pie to bring nature inside.

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