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Grow Ornamental Bananas (Musa ornate) to attract sunbirds

on 27th May 2017
Cluster of Ornamental Bananas (Photo credit: YC Wee)
Cluster of Ornamental Bananas (Photo credit: YC Wee)

I have a small patch of Ornamental Bananas (Musa ornate) growing in front of my porch. It took me more than a year to get them looking as lush as in the image above.

Ornamental Banana with male flowers
Ornamental Banana with male flowers

Visitors are attracted to the pinkish inflorescence bracts against a background of green leaves. And so are Olive-backed Sunbirds (Nectarinia jugularis). These birds visit the flowers a few times a day to sip on the nectar. Their high-pitched chirps and chatters announce their presence.

Ornamental Banana with female flowers
Ornamental Banana with female flowers

These banana plants demand plenty of fertilisers all the time. My plants are organically grown, not that I eat the fruits as they are small and mostly skin. My secret of keeping them lush and free flowering is using diluted personally generated liquid fertilisers.

Male Olive-backed Sunbird with pierced male flowers of Ornamental Banana
Male Olive-backed Sunbird with pierced male flowers of Ornamental Banana

The length of the sunbirds’ bill is a little too short to reach the nectar at the base of the flowers. So what they do is pierce the base of the flowers to get at the nectar – whether male or female flowers – see images above and video clips below.

It is a pleasure to watch these attractive sunbirds darting from one inflorescence to another while relaxing with a book in the porch.

YC Wee
Singapore
12th May 2017

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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