Musa ornata

Common Name: flowering banana 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Musaceae
Native Range: Northern India
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 6.00 to 9.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 7.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Orange-yellow with purple-pink bracts
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy, Edible


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. For St. Louis, this can be an interesting ornamental plant with tropical flair, but it is not expected to produce fruit and will require considerable maintenance. In St. Louis, plants will not survive winter outdoors, but may be grown directly in the ground (if dug in fall), in greenhouses, in containers (overwinter indoors) or as houseplants. Plants are 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. Outdoor plants must be overwintered indoors, either as houseplants or by forcing plants into dormancy. Options for overwintering include: (1) 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; (2) If plant is too large to bring inside as a houseplant, cut foliage back to 6-8” in fall after first frost, and store container in a cool, dark, frost-free corner of the basement until spring, providing just a touch of moisture as needed in winter to prevent the soils from totally drying out; (3) If container is too heavy or too large to bring inside, remove plant from container in fall before first frost, wrap roots in plastic and store in a cool, dark, frost-free corner of the basement until spring. When using this option, foliage may be trimmed back or left on the plant and allowed to brown up in the normal course; (4) If growing plants directly in the ground, dig, wrap roots, trim back the leaves and store as in option #3 above.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Musa ornata, commonly called flowering banana, is native to India. It is a small-fruited, rhizomatous, suckering, herbaceous perennial that is primarily grown for its ornamental appearance. This is a diploid plant whose small fruit (greenish-yellow bananas to only 3” long) contains warty black seeds. This fruit is infrequently eaten. Flowering banana rises to as much as 9’ tall with a 5-7’ spread and features glaucous, paddle-shaped, green to blue-green leaves (to 6’ long and 1’ wide) whose sheaths overlap to form a trunk-like pseudostem (false stem). Orange-yellow flowers with purple-pink bracts appear seasonally in the wild. Younger plants often will not flower and fruit until the 2nd or 3rd year. 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) which form new pseudostems. The true species may be difficult to find in commerce.

Genus name honors Antonia Musa, Roman physician of the 1st century B.C.

Specific epithet means ornamental or showy.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, scale, thrips and fruit flies. Susceptible to anthracnose, wilt and mosaic virus.


In St. Louis, bananas are grown for ornamental purposes. Fruit rarely appears. Whether grown outdoors in the landscape or indoors as a houseplant, bananas (even dwarf cultivars) need lots of space. They are classic tropical foliage plants which produce attractive flowers. They are effective when grown as a garden centerpiece or for tropical flair near water bodies.