Royal Robes Banana Shrub. Most of us Southerners are almost as familiar with the old "Banana Shrub" (which we knew as Michelia figo) as we are with the ubiquitous Fragrant Tea Olive, Osmanthus fragrans. There was at least one in every landscape. And this incredible selection of Michelia is sometimes relegated to species status. I first ordered this cultivar from a small nursery in China back in the mid 80's, and the flowers are a deep burgundy with an unusual spicy fragrance, somewhat different from the fruity fragrance of the species. This may be the same cultivar as 'Purple Queen' which was introduced to Japan by Mr. Akari Shibamichi. Having grown this plant for several years and leaving it outside in containers with no cold damage, I think we would be safe in saying that this selection would be hardy into zone 7b. It's growth habit is similar to the species, although slightly more compact. This will be an awesome plant for the Deep South. It doesn't root as easily as the species and most plants that I have seen in Japan have been grafted, hence we have resorted to "air layering" to propagate it. These plants that we offer now are so much larger than cutting grown plants that we have had to pot them into 4 quart pots, which has resulted in a very large plant covered in flower buds. The only problem with this selection is Oleander scale (sometimes referred to as Magnolia scale) which can be controlled by regularly applying coffee grounds around this plant. This is also an excellent method of controlling tea scale on Camellias. So never throw away coffee grounds. Use them around any plant which is subject to scale or as an organic amendment to you garden or potting soil.