BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
We’re all familiar with banana trees and the fruits that they produce. Bananas have become a staple in diets as a source of potassium and vitamin C. But fruits aren’t the only distinguishing characteristic among banana trees. Several species, like the Musa ornata, owe their popularity to their flowers.
Musa ornata, commonly known as ornamental banana, comes from the banana family of plants called Musacaea which are herbaceous perennial plants. It grows well in moist, lowland environments with high temperatures and humidity since it is native to Northern India.
Musa ornata reaches a height of six to nine feet. What sets the banana tree variety apart from others in the family is its flower which has a bright pink hue, making them a favorite among gardeners.
Lance Ervin Domingo Viado, a fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Agriculture student majoring in Horticulture at the University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, North Cotabato, is among the many gardeners fascinated by Musa ornata.
Coming from a family whose gardening has been part of their lives, Viado has been inspired to engage in this hobby.
“Since I was in grade 3 (2008), I started planting whatever ornamental plants given to me by our neighbors and some plants I cut from the school. My mom always brought me along when she wanted to buy some plants at the local market. My eyes go crazy whenever I see awesome plants, Viado said.
He added that even if he was busy studying away from home, he always allotted a part of his allowance to buying plants and bringing them home.
Tips in growing Musa ornata
According to Viado, growing Musa ornata doesn’t require too much attention from the gardener, provided that an ample amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients are present in the soil.
“Healthy plants always start with healthy soil. Provide them with adequate nutrients, water, and light. Know the plant before you buy them because every plant has different living requirements,” he said.
If the trees are planted in poor nutrient soil, Viado advised that a balanced fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) is recommended to be applied.
“They like to be in direct sunlight but they can also survive in semi-low light environments like under tall trees. During the dry season, I cover the base of the plants with dry leaves to control soil moisture loss. I also remove old and dead leaves to make them look more presentable,” the horticulture student added.
Lastly, when it comes to propagating Musa species, Viado said that it’s similar to most banana trees, which are propagated from shoots from the mother plant.
Pursuing his love for gardening
Viado shared that he learned about the basics of gardening from his mother even though they didn’t know much about plants back then. By high school, Viado took agriculture for his elective class and later graduated as the Best in Agricultural Arts at the Koronadal National Comprehensive High School (KNCHS).
“Because of my passion for agriculture, especially horticulture, I took the BS Agriculture course to broaden my knowledge in gardening and farming,” he shared.
For Viado, gardening adds positive vibes, especially during this pandemic. It helps alleviate stress and enables others to have a hobby where they can earn from. And through gardening, Viado can also learn more about plants and how to care for them, just like what he does with his Musa ornata.