GROWING HARDY BANANA TREES
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE…
Hardy banana trees (Musa Basjoo) will grow in Indiana. Also called “Japanese Banana” or “Hardy Fiber Banana”, the plants can grow 6’-10’ tall and thrive in a sunny location with plenty of water. Fruiting is unlikely in our climate, however, and the small fruits are unpalatable. The leaves may be used for cooking.
These spectacular tropical plants need a rich, well-drained soil and prefer a location which receives some shelter from the wind (to reduce leaf damage). A protected southern location is ideal. They are heavy feeders; a water soluble fertilizer such as Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 can be applied weekly for optimal growth.
After frost in the autumn, cut back the plant to approximately 2’ tall. Once the ground freezes – between Thanksgiving and Christmas, usually – put a 6” layer of mulch 18” in diameter to protect the root system. After danger of frost is past, push back the mulch and the banana will begin growing once the weather turns warm.
There are other tropical varieties of bananas which may be overwintered indoors as houseplants; this is the only one which can remain outside.