Large, fleshy, upright stalks topped with soft, smooth, arching leaves signifies the banana plant. Ranging from six feet for the dwarf species to over 30 feet for the largest types, banana trees are guaranteed to lend a tropical flavor to any landscape setting. The broad, tender leaves are easily torn by winds and plants should be located in a sheltered area to prevent this. The easily-grown banana tree is ideal for planters near the pool, located around garden ponds, or clustered together for an exotic effect. The unusual reddish-purple flowers are followed by clusters of upwardly-pointing green fruit, maturing to a beautiful yellow.
Scientific name: Musa spp.
Pronunciation: MEW-suh species
Common name(s): banana
USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11 (Figure 2)
Origin: native to southeast Asia
UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not considered a problem species at this time, may be recommended (North, Central, South)
Uses: fruit; specimen; container or planter
Height: 10 to 30 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: upright/erect, palm
Crown density: open
Growth rate: fast
Leaf arrangement: spiral
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire, undulate
Leaf shape: oblong
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length: > 3 feet
Leaf color: medium green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy
Flower color: yellowish white
Flower characteristics: showy; emerges in clusters of 10-20 underneath a teardrop-shaped, reddish-purple husk that occurs at the end of a long stalk
Fruit shape: elongated
Fruit length: 2 to 10 inches
Fruit covering: fleshy, seedless berry
Fruit color: from green to yellow when ripe
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem
Fruiting: ripen approximately 80-180 days after flowering
Trunk and Branches
Trunk/branches: multi-trunked (pseudostems); no thorns
Bark: brown, fleshy, upright stalks with remnant leaf petioles shredded about
Pruning requirement: needed for consistent fruit production
Breakage: not applicable
Current year twig color: not applicable
Current year twig thickness: not applicable
Wood specific gravity: unknown
Light requirement: full sun to partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: little
Aerosol salt tolerance: none
Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases
Use and Management
Growing best on fertile, moist soil, bananas will thrive in full sun or partial shade and should be protected from both wind and cold. Plants respond well to regular fertilization. Too many suckers should not be allowed to develop since this will decrease the ability of any one plant to produce a good bunch of fruit. By allowing suckers to develop only at periodic intervals, a succession of fruiting can be obtained. Banana bunches should be harvested when the fruit is still green and allowed to ripen in a cool, dark place. It produces fruit in USDA hardiness zones 8b and 9 only when winter temperatures stay above freezing. Plants killed to the ground which sprout from the soil in the spring will not produce fruit until the following year.
Many different species of banana are available. Some ornamental types are grown for foliage or flowers. Musa coccinea has brilliant red bracts, while Musa rosea has pink bracts. Both hold up very well as cut flowers. Musa acuminata, 'Dwarf Cavendish', is one of the best fruit cultivars. It has large bunches with large fruit and the plant's small size makes it easier to protect from wind. The tall-growing 'Ladyfinger' has small bunches of small bananas but they are very thin-skinned and delicious. Musa velutina grows three to four feet tall with three-foot leaves that are green above and bronzy beneath. The upright pink bracts has orange flowers and yield velvety pink fruit.
Propagation is by division of the suckers.
Scales and nematodes are of its two common pests.
Sigatoka leaf-spot, Cercospora leaf-spot, and Panana disease may infect this tree.
Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.