4 varieties to try
If you want a tropical-looking plant that also produces fruit, try the banana. They can almost be persuaded to grow inland if they get plenty of all-round shelter and organic material.
•RESEARCH is being done to find a variety for commercial production in New Zealand. The Bodles Wainui banana is a hybrid, a cross between the Pisang Awak Indonesian mountain variety and the Fijian Blue Java, but their fruit size is smaller than cheap imports so they remain a specialist item for now.
•THERE ARE some very good varieties offered by nurseries like Nestlebrae Exotics in Kerikeri, including lovely ornamental ones with red and purple flowers.
•THE ETHIOPIAN RED banana is from a mountain area, so it is a ‘tropical alpine’ and handles frost in winter.
•THERE ARE good reports of the survival of the Japanese ‘Hardy’ banana ( Musa basjoo) which tolerates the occasional snowfall if properly prepared and mulched.