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
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
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
Other Names: Japanese fiber banana or hardy banana
Native to: Ryukyu Archipelago (between Japan and Taiwan)
Hardiness: Zones 3 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 BananaLatin 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
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.