Tabernaemontana pandacaqui


Well-Known Member
A few months back, I started a post on Tabernaemontana africana (syn. T. holstii, T. pachysiphon). At that time, I also wanted to follow through and post on additional species of Tabernaemontana that I have been working with and growing fond of over the last year or so. So today I finally went through some pics and decided to post on T. pandacaqui, commonly referred to as banana bush; although there is nothing common about this plant in the Florida Keys anyway. I purchased these plants in 7 gal pots 1 1/2 years ago. They were about 18" tall by 24" wide at the time. They are now 4' tall by about 5' wide. What I can tell you about these plants is that they will thrive in CAM00105.jpgCAM00102.jpgCAM00103.jpgCAM00104.jpgfull or partial sun. The more sun, the more bloom and more rapid growth. They have a milky white bark with matte green leaves that are about 3 inches long. The blooms are small. Maybe a 1/4 inch or so. But they are bright white, cluster in great numbers, and are very sweetly scented. I haven't experience any pest issues with these either. Decent sun, average water and fertilizer will keep these beauties very happy. Pruning requirements are minimal. A great plant for smaller spaces with sweet fragrance the whole year round. Always full of leaf too, no mass defoliation. If you can find them, I suggest putting at least one of these in your garden.
IMO this genus is very underutilized, and I have no idea how many species there actually are, or what ones I have. All i know is that they are at the top of my list for fragrance.

Do you have a preference for which ones you have as to which is the most fragrant - or are they all heavily scented?
Dean, I completely agree with your feeling of this genus being underutilized. Some of that may be due to lack of availability. I have only worked with four species: T. africana, T. pandacaqui, T. crassa and T. divaricata. The T. divaricata or Flore Pleno is quite common in South Florida. While it can be a decent filler shrub for either large residential or commercial landscapes, they do not IMO exhibit specimen characteristics. They have a nice glossy leaf, and pure white flowers throughout most of the year, but they do not have much fragrance at all, can be susceptible to pests, and if they decline at all, are very slow to come back to health. I don't use them in my designs at all, and usually end up pulling them out of existing landscapes to better utilize the space.
The other three species I am enamored with, and use as much as possible. Their scents are unique, sweet and intoxicating. Each species has a different fragrance, ranging from musky vanilla to just plain sweet. I'll post on T. crassa soon. I have a feeling you will be familiar with that one too. Mine haven't bloomed in some time, hopefully they will pop so I can post pics of their bloom. I'm very glad you share my passion for this wonderful genus.