Musa ‘Siam Ruby’ is a spectacular and unique ornamental banana cultivar with beautiful ruby red leaves which are sometimes speckled with random small specks of chartreuse green. It is a plant that screams for one’s attention which makes it an excellent candidate as a focal plant in any tropical garden. Leaves of ‘Siam Ruby’ are held at a slightly higher angle than most other Musa plants. So far, the specimens I have seen in local nurseries are at most 1.5 m at most and I have never witnessed a plant in flower.
It was said to have been discovered growing in the wild in Papua New Guinea and is most probably a sport of Musa acuminata ‘Tapo’. When it was first offered for sale via online nurseries, this ornamental banana cultivar was referred to via two other cultivar names, namely, ‘Palawan Red’ and ‘Ace of Hearts’. It took some time before everyone settled for the cultivar name ‘Siam Ruby’.
This banana cultivar seems to produce suckers quite prolifically. New suckers that emerge have leaves that are often less red in colour and feature a prominent yellow mid-rib and veins. The leaves of the young plant are more comparatively narrower and have a sharp leaf tip. Unlike other bananas, suckers of ‘Siam Ruby’ are best taken from the parent clump and allow to establish first in a pot of fertile, well-draining soil before transplant to a spot in the garden.
‘Siam Ruby’ is not an easy ornamental banana plant to grow. Note that drainage is exceptionally important to this particular banana cultivar, otherwise plants can rot at the base. It thrives under full sun so that leaves take on an intense ruby red colour. Also, avoid letting the leaves become injured as broken parts can become infected easily. Hence it is recommended to space other plants apart from ‘Siam Ruby’. Clumps tend to become quite crowded rather quickly and hence thinning of suckers need to be performed periodically. Like all other bananas, ‘Siam Ruby’ prefers to be grown in fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Mulch plants with well-rotted compost to keep roots moist and cool. Feed with organic fertiliser that is also rich in potassium.
Musa ‘Siam Ruby’ has been observed to mutate to an all chartreuse green version. With more chlorophyll content in its leaves, the mutation appears to be more vigorous – it grows at a faster rate and attains a height that is taller than the original ruby red version.