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Michelia Figo: Unveiling Its Fragrant Blooms and Gardening Tips

The Michelia figo is an evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 2-3 meters. Its bark is gray-brown and it boasts a dense branching structure. The leaves are leathery, narrowly elliptical or inversely ovate-elliptical in shape. The flowers stand erect, with petals measuring 12-20mm in length and 6-11mm in width. They are pale yellow […]

The Michelia figo is an evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 2-3 meters. Its bark is gray-brown and it boasts a dense branching structure. The leaves are leathery, narrowly elliptical or inversely ovate-elliptical in shape.

The flowers stand erect, with petals measuring 12-20mm in length and 6-11mm in width. They are pale yellow in color, often with red or purple edges. The flowering period lasts from March to May, while the fruiting period extends from July to August.

This shrub is native to the southern provinces of China, with wild specimens found on Dinghu Mountain in Guangdong. It typically grows in the mixed woods of shady slopes, exuding a delicate, orchid-like fragrance.

It is primarily used as a potted plant, but also serves as a secondary feature in garden landscapes. In horticulture, it is commonly planted as a small shrub of 2-3 meters for garden display and fragrance.

Michelia figo

The most fragrant Michelia figo flowers are those picked when the flower bud is about to burst and the outer bud is about to fall off.

I. Morphological Features

In terms of physical characteristics, the Banana Shrub is an evergreen shrub standing 2-3 meters tall, with a gray-brown bark and dense branches. The buds, young branches, leaf stalks, and flower stalks are all densely covered with yellow-brown velvety hair.

The leaves are leathery, narrowly elliptical or inversely ovate-elliptical, measuring 4-10cm in length and 1.8-4.5cm in width. The top is bluntly pointed, the base wedge-shaped or broadly wedge-shaped.

The top surface is glossy and hairless, while the underside retains brown flat hair on the midrib, and is hairless elsewhere. The leaf stalk is 2-4mm long, with a stipule scar that extends to the top of the stalk.

The flowers stand erect, with petals 12-20mm long and 6-11mm wide. They are pale yellow, sometimes with red or purple edges, and have a rich, sweet fragrance.

Michelia figo

The 6 perianth segments are fleshy and relatively thick, elliptical, and measure 12-20mm in length and 6-11mm in width. The stamens are 7-8mm long, with anther partitions protruding into acute tips.

The pistil group is hairless, about 7mm long, and extends beyond the stamen group. The pistil group stalk is about 6mm long and covered in light yellow velvety hair.

The aggregate fruit is 2-3.5cm long. The nutlet is ovate or spherical, with a short pointed beak at the top. The flowering period is from March to May, and the fruiting period is from July to August.

II. Growth Environment

This plant thrives in the shade of mixed forests on slopes, with particular abundance along stream valleys. The Michelia alba, or White Champaca, prefers fertile soil and semi-shaded environments.

It grows most efficiently under weak sunlight and should be protected from direct, intense sunlight. During summer, it’s necessary to provide shade. Before the frost in late autumn, it should be moved into a greenhouse to overwinter at around 10℃.

Michelia figo

White Champaca is a warm-zone woody flowering shrub, not very cold-resistant. It can survive winter outdoors in areas south of the Yangtze River that are sheltered from wind and facing the sun.

While it doesn’t tolerate dry, poor soil, it also dislikes waterlogging, requiring well-drained, fertile, slightly acidic loamy soil. It can also adapt to neutral soils.

III. Growth and Propagation

The White Champaca can be propagated through cutting, layering, and grafting.

Cuttings are ideally taken from late July to early September, using hardwood branches or top buds that are about 15 centimeters long, have not yet sprouted new buds, and have 3 to 8 leaves.

The base of the cuttings should be dipped in rooting hormone and then placed in sandy soil. Provide appropriate shade and maintain a moist environment. Roots should develop in about 2 to 3 months, after which the cuttings can be transplanted the following spring.

For layering propagation, select well-developed, robust 2-year-old branches in April. Make a 0.5cm wide ring cut that reaches the woody part of the branch, cover the cut area with moist moss, and wrap it in plastic.

Michelia figo

Tie it tightly at both ends. It should root in about 2 months. Once the new roots are fully developed, cut the branch and pot it. Water thoroughly after potting, then water once a day or not at all. Start fertilizing when the new shoots are about 7cm long.

Grafting, which isn’t commonly used in the industry, is best done between May and June. Magnolia is often used as rootstock. After survival, the grafted plant can grow rapidly.

The White Champaca, with its thick, fleshy roots, doesn’t tolerate transplantation well. If transplantation is necessary, it’s best to bring along a large soil ball. Pruning and shaping of the plant should ideally be done before overwintering.

IV. Disease Prevention and Control

Common diseases of Michelia Alba include leaf blight, anthracnose, algal leaf spot, and sooty mold, all of which harm the leaves and hinder the growth of the plant.

When these diseases occur, the affected leaves should be immediately removed and burned, followed by a spray of the appropriate pesticide to prevent spreading.

To prevent leaf blight, a spray of 0.3% lime sulfur solution should be applied every 15 days in early spring; if the disease has already occurred, a solution of 65% zinc dimethyldithiocarbamate at a dilution of 500-600 times can be sprayed.

To prevent anthracnose and algal leaf spot, it’s important to strengthen the management of fertilizer and water. Additionally, increasing the application of phosphorus and potassium fertilizers can help the plant grow stronger and improve its resistance.

A solution of 0.5% Bordeaux mixture or 5% bismerthiazol at a 600-750 times dilution can be sprayed during the onset of the disease, approximately every 10 days. To prevent sooty mold, the first step is pest control.

When the disease is mild, it can be brushed off with clean water, and proper ventilation and sunlight are also essential. In severe cases, a solution of 50% prochloraz at an 800-1000 times dilution can be sprayed every 10 days, for 2-3 times in total.

Other major diseases include black mold and chlorosis, which can be treated with a 0.5% Bordeaux mixture or by rubbing alcohol on the mold stains.

A solution of 0.1%-0.2% ferrous sulfate can be sprayed to prevent chlorosis. Major pests include scale insects, aphids, and red spiders, which can be exterminated using an 80% dimethoate solution diluted 1000-1500 times.

During pest control, it is necessary to properly prune dense branches to allow light and air to penetrate. When the infestation is light, pests can be gently removed with a brush; during the hatching period of the nymphs, a solution of 40% chlorpyrifos emulsion diluted 2000 times can be sprayed to exterminate them.

V. Primary Value

Medicinal Value

Natural flowering plants not only delight the eye with their vibrant colors, beautiful shapes, and pleasant aromas, but they also contain rich nutrients, bioactive components, and natural plant essences.

Based on the different nutrients and medicinal properties of these plants, experts have organically combined plants that have similar effects over many years of practice.

These combinations, based on color, shape, aroma, and variety, create a series of floral teas with different beauty and health benefits.

Drinking floral tea can not only improve mood and invigorate the spirit but also has the magical effects of activating blood circulation, nourishing the skin, relieving stress, slimming and beautifying the body, promoting health, and prolonging life.

Regular consumption can make the skin delicate, red, smooth, bright, glossy, and elastic.

Beauty and Health

  • Flowers and other plants are rich in nutrients and special ingredients.
  • They have antioxidant effects, which can delay the aging process.
  • They can relax the nervous system, help calm the body and mind, relieve tension, soothe irritability, and restore balance. They invigorate the spirit, stimulate vitality, and eliminate fatigue.
  • They contain diuretic components, which can promote the excretion of toxins in the body and improve metabolism.
  • They can cool the blood, detoxify, nourish the skin, and beautify the complexion.
  • They have a soothing and anti-depressant effect.

Ornamental Value

Primarily used as potted plants, with landscape gardening being secondary. In horticultural applications, they are mainly used as small Michelia Alba shrubs 2-3 meters tall for garden viewing and fragrance dispersal.

The fragrance of the Michelia Alba is most intense when the flower bud is large and the outer sepals are about to fall off.

VI. Plant Culture

Flower Language

The flower language of the Michelia Alba is restraint, subtlety, beauty, dignity, purity, nobility, and decorum. Because the Michelia Alba blossoms but does not fully open, resembling a smile but not speaking, its flower language is subtlety and restraint.

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Founder of FlowersLib

Peggie was once a high school mathematics teacher, but she set aside her chalkboard and textbooks to follow her lifelong passion for flowers. After years of dedication and learning, she not only established a thriving flower shop but also founded this blog, “Flowers Library”. If you have any questions or wish to learn more about flowers, feel free to contact Peggie.

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