Common Name: Japanese banana
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Japan, Ryukyu Islands
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 6.00 to 14.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 14.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Cream to yellow
Sun: Full sun
This banana is considered winter hardy to USDA Zones 5-10 because the roots, if well mulched, will survive winter temperatures of -10 degrees F. It is best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Plants tolerate and often appreciate some part shade or light filtered sun in the heat of the day. Best growth occurs with consistently moist soils that do not dry out. Fertilize plants regularly during the growing season. Site plants in areas protected from strong winds which can severely damage the large leaves. For containers, use a well-drained potting soil mix. Keep container soils consistently moist but not wet. In USDA Zones 9-10, this banana is basically evergreen and may be grown outdoors year round. In USDA Zones 5-8, plant growth will die to the ground in winter (at 40 degrees F. additional growth stops and at 32 degrees F. the leaves die and tree can be cut back to 2-3'). Options for overwintering include: (1) For plants grown directly in the ground, cut stems back to 2' after frost kills the leaves, wrap stems with burlap, bubble wrap or plastic and apply a thick mulch to the ground to protect the roots; (2) For container plants, bring container indoors in fall before first frost and place in a large sunny room for overwintering as a houseplant, with reduced water and fertilization, or trim foliage and store container in the basement in a cool frost free corner, providing just an occasional touch of moisture in winter to prevent the soils from totally drying out; (3) For large plants (whether grown directly in the ground or in containers), cut foliage back in fall after first frost, trim plus wrap roots in plastic and store plants in a cool, dark, frost-free corner of the basement until spring.
Musa basjoo is a cold hardy banana that is native to the Ryuku Islands near Japan. It may be grown directly in the ground year round in the St. Louis area. It has survived winters as far north as New England and Ontario, Canada. This is a large, fast-growing, suckering plant (technically an herbaceous perennial) that grows to 6-14' tall. Gardeners grow these plants not for their fruit (which is small, green and inedible) but for their ornamental foliage which lends an exotic and tropical aura to the landscape. Plants produce huge paddle-shaped leaves that grow to 2' wide and to 6’ long. Leaf sheathes overlap to form a trunk-like pseudostem (false stem). Cream to yellow flowers may appear in summer on mature plants to be followed by inedible green fruit. Container plants cut close to the ground in fall each year may never flower. After flowering and fruiting, the pseudostem dies, but the roots push out new shoots (suckers known as pups) which form new pseudostems. Plants are cultivated in Japan as fiber plants (plant fiber for fabrics), hence the sometimes used common name of Japanese fiber banana.
Genus name honors Antonia Musa, Roman physician of the 1st century B.C.
No serious insect or disease problems. Grasshoppers, borers and root nematodes may attack outdoor plants. Susceptible to anthracnose, wilt and mosiac virus. Watch for aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale on houseplants.
Whether grown outdoors in the landscape or indoors as a houseplant, bananas need lots of space. They are classic tropical foliage plants. Effective when grown as a garden centerpiece or for tropical flair near patios or bodies of water.