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The Musa Basjoo Banana Tree

When you think banana tree, you may think of this giant tropical fruit-bearing plant only found in specific places worldwide. But what if I told you that that isn’t necessarily true? Enter the Musa Basjoo banana tree. Quite the name, am I right?

A Musa Basjoo banana tree in a garden.

This banana tree is stunning; the best part is that it can grow in cooler climates. Now the Musa Basjoo banana tree is an ornamental plant which means it will not bear any delicious bananas, but what it offers in its tropical beauty indeed makes up for it.

History of the Musa Basjoo Banana Tree

The Musa Basjoo banana tree has a variety of names it has gone by, such as Japanese Banana, Japanese Fibre Banana, and Hardy Banana.

This specific variety is thought to have originated from subtropical Southern China.

Closeup of a reddish-orange banana blossom pod on a musa basjoo banana tree.

This ornamental banana tree was first cultivated for the use of its substantial fiber used to produce different textiles. Some of the items this textile makes are hand-knotted rugs, tablecloths, and various types of papers.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the Musa Basjoo is thought to be helpful when clearing the body of certain toxins and quenching thirst.

Characteristics of the Musa Basjoo Banana Tree

As mentioned above, the Musa Basjoo banana tree is an ornamental tropical plant that can grow in cooler climates.

Size and Looks

This beautiful tropical plant grows ten to fifteen feet tall, and the top leaves can reach up to four feet when fully mature, making for quite a sizeable ornamental plant.

The leaves mimic those of a gorgeous palm but have a crinkle texture, making them look even more exotic. The trunk is thinner and, when young, has a green coloring but turns the typical brown coloration as it matures.

Musa basjoo banana trees.

Climate

These banana trees grow best in USDA hardiness zones six to ten. Being an indoor-outdoor plant, most plant these in containers and move them indoors once the weather starts to cool off.

Growing the Musa Basjoo Banana Tree

The Musa Basjoo makes a fantastic house plant and grows only as big as the space allows, so planting these in containers is the best way to go when planting and enjoying, but you can plant them into the ground depending on your climate. They create an amazing tropical atmosphere on porches, patios, decks, and around pools.

Planting

Regardless of where you plan your Musa Basjoo banana tree, they prefer well-drained soil and full sun. These are heavy feeders, so giving them a slow-release fertilizer when planting will yield excellent results.

Closeup of the leaves of a musa basjoo banana tree.

Container

These tropical beauties prefer containers to grow in primarily because of soil drainage but also because if the temperature gets a bit too low, they can easily move to a warmer spot such as a garage or indoors.

If you are only looking to keep your banana tree indoors, check out our article on Growing Indoor Banana Trees for all there is to know about keeping a banana as a healthy gorgeous indoor tropical plant.

Outdoors

If planting outdoors into the ground, choose a spot that receives full sun and has well-drained soil. If you live in hardiness zones five and six, it’s best to thoroughly prune back your banana tree to protect its roots for the colder months. For more detailed information on pruning banana trees, check out our Pruning Banana Trees guide.

Banana pups near a parent banana tree cut back for the winter.
Banana pups next to a banana pruned for winter.

Choosing the Right Soil

Choosing the right soil may seem simple enough, but these banana trees can be pretty picky and can be prone to root rot.

You can prevent root rot by purchasing well-draining potting soil. You can find these types of soil at your local garden centers.

Fertilizer

Because this banana tree is such a heavy-feeding ornamental plant, you want to fertilize it every six months, and the best way to do this is with a slow-release fertilizer.

This plant’s best type would be considered a nitrogen two-stage or an 18-6-8 fertilizer. This can double the size of your plant without any harsh side effects, and well, you won’t have to remember to fertilize every month.

Why Choose the Musa Basjoo Banana Tree?

So why choose the Musa Basjoo banana tree? Most would choose this plant for a few of its key features.

Closeup of a yellow banana blossom pod on a musa basjoo banana tree.

Hardiness

Being a tropical ornamental plant, some think you have to live in a warm climate to enjoy these types of plants. Still, with this banana tree, as long as you live in the appropriate hardiness zones, you can plant it outdoors or keep it as an indoor plant no matter where you live.

Perfect for Container Planting

I love container planting. Personally, this is a win for me. Container planting means you can move this tropical plant wherever you want. Not only is this a perk for you, but it is also for the plant. This banana tree prefers containers since it’s easier on the root system.

An indoor banana tree.
Banana trees can be grown indoors!

Low Maintenance

As long as your banana tree has full sunlight and is watered regularly, it is sure to be one happy plant. Just remember to fertilize twice a year and keep it from getting too cold.

Tropical Beauty in Cooler Temperatures

You no longer need to take a vacation to enjoy the beauty of tropical plants. You are sure to have your neighbors jealous over how beautiful your porches and patios will be. Or, if you want to keep this as an indoor plant, you will enjoy the tropical beauty from anywhere in your home.

A "hedge" of musa basjoo banana trees along a fence in a yard.

FAQ

Can you grow these banana trees anywhere?

In short, kind of. To plant your Musa Basjoo banana tree outdoors, you must live in the USDA hardiness zones five to eleven. If you’re going only to use it as an indoor plant, you can keep them anywhere since they are an indoor/outdoor plant.

Do you need to prune the Musa Basjoo banana tree?

All banana trees require a bit of pruning from time to time. If you live in a climate where the winters are cooler, you will need to prune the banana tree almost entirely down to protect the plant from the harsh cold temperatures.

Are these banana trees annuals or perennials?

The Musa Basjoo tree, if grown in a suitable climate and hardiness zones, are sure to return the following year when planted outdoors.

Do these trees produce delicious bananas?

Unfortunately no. These banana trees do not produce edible fruit. They may flower and produce small fruit, but you cannot eat these.

Rows of small ornamental bananas and the male flower on a musa basjoo banana tree.

Where can I buy the Musa Basjoo banana tree?

There are many online retailers, such as PlantingTree.com or Nature Hills Nursery where you can purchase these fantastic tropical trees. Even some big boxed garden centers may carry them during the warmers seasons, depending on where you live.

Wrapping up the Musa Basjoo Banana Tree

When looking for the best tropical banana tree that can be planted in cooler temperatures look no further than the Musa Basjoo banana. These trees are beautiful, easy to care for, and grow where no other tropical tree can grow. Whether you are looking for a tropical outdoor oasis or a new indoor plant to adore you cannot beat this banana tree.

A musa basjoo banana tree flower blossom.

You can transform your space into a tropical paradise worthy of pure summer relaxation. If you want more information on banana trees you can read our articles here.