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Hardy Banana Trees

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If you ask people to name tropical plants, banana trees would be near the top of the list. However, there are hardy banana trees that are able to grow in cooler zones than usual. While the leaves will be damaged or destroyed by freezing weather, the roots will survive and grow new shoots the following spring. Here are some of the common hardy banana trees available.

1. Chinese Dwarf Banana

The flower of the Chinese dwarf banana tree grows directly on top of the "trunk" (stem)
Photo © Flickr user kanonn
Latin Name: Musella lasiocarpa

Other Names: Golden lotus banana, Chinese yellow banana

Native to: China

Hardiness: May be hardy as low as Zones 5-6 with mulching

Size: The Chinese dwarf bananas grow 4-6' tall.

Flower/Fruit: The bright yellow flower of these hardy banana usually appears in the second year and grows directly on top of the "trunk" (stem), leading to small, inedible fruits.

2. Darjeeling Banana

The Darjeeling banana tree is one of the hardiest Musa species.
Photo © Wikimedia user Prashanthns
Latin Name: Musa sikkimensis. Also Musa hookeri

Other Names: Snow banana, Hooker's hardy banana

Native to: Himalayas

Hardiness: Zone 5 or 6 with mulching.

Size: The Darjeeling banana tree grows to 14' tall.

Fruit:The fruit is edible and sweet with hard pulp and several seeds.

3. Japanese Banana

Musa basjoo is the most common hardy banana for sale.
Photo © Flickr user krossbow
Latin Name: Musa basjoo

Other Names: Japanese fiber banana or hardy banana

Native to: Ryukyu Archipelago (between Japan and Taiwan)

Hardiness: Zones 5 and above if well mulched. It has been reported to survive as low as -20F.

Size: This hardy banana grows to 18' tall.

Flower/Fruit: The creamy yellow flowers lead to small, inedible bananas.

4. Snow Banana

Latin Name: Ensete glaucum

Other Names: Giant Nepal banana

Native to: China/Nepal

Hardiness: Zone 7 if mulched very well.

Size: The snow banana grows to 25' tall.

Flower/Fruit: White flowers turn into 5" long fruits, full of large seeds.

5. Velvet Banana

Velvet Banana is grown for its tiny pink bananas
Photo © Flickr user Fred Hsu
Latin Name: Musa velutina

Other Names: Baby pink banana, hairy banana, pink-fruited banana

Native to: India/Southeast Asia

Hardiness: Fruit comes in Zone 9 and above, but velvet banana can be grown as low as Zone 6 or 7 if mulched.

Size: The velvet banana grows 4-6' tall.

Flower/Fruit: The flowers of this hardy banana are white and are followed by small,hairy, pink bananas. They are edible and sweet, though full of seeds.

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