Dwarf Banana Tree are for Growing Banana Plants as Ornamentals

July 22, 2023

We all love our tropical houseplants! Growing things like Boston ferns, Crotons, bromeliads or even a dwarf banana tree will liven up the house or yard. It adds just a little of that lush greenery to your personal space.

And no, it wasn’t a typo. The banana tree can be a superb decorative houseplant with proper care. Technically not a tree at all, the thick “trunk” of the dwarf banana tree actually consists of tightly clumped petioles,

Although they are not real fruit trees like apples or others, Dwarf banana trees can grow incredibly tall. Fortunately, we have dwarf varieties that are only 4′ to 12′ tall, which makes them viable for home gardens.

You don’t have to be in the tropics to grow them, even if you really like the warm weather. With proper care, you too can enjoy this leathery plant and even eat dwarf Cavendish bananas. And if you let it bloom, you might even get bananas!

Types of Dwarf banana trees

Previously, it was believed that all plantains or plantains belonged to the species Musa paradisiaca and that all dessert bananas belonged to the species Musa sapientum.

However, subsequent studies have revealed that all edible bananas come from the hybridization of two wild species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana, Whether they are cooking bananas or desserts. Thus, practically all edible bananas available today are a hybrid variety of one or both of these two wild banana species.

These are now divided into groups where the levels of hybridization are detailed, with “A” referring to Acuminata and “B” referring to Balbisiana.

Since there are hundreds or even thousands of varieties of edible bananas today, it is confusing to choose a plant. For today we are going to focus mainly on dwarf varieties. I will also include some of the most popular decorative (inedible) varieties, as they also make great show plants!

Musa acuminata (group AAA), ‘dwarf Cuban red’

This is a triploid hybrid of Musa acuminata varieties, popular as a small and firm dessert banana. Its name comes from its red-skinned fruits, which are very different from the bananas in modern supermarkets. Sometimes the leaves are also red in color. This variety tends to reach heights of 7 to 8 feet.

Musa acuminata (AAA group), “Dwarf Cavendish”

The Cavendish dwarf banana tree is probably the most popular dwarf dessert variety among most gardeners. However, she and all other varieties of Cavendish are susceptible to a fungal ailment called Tropical Race 4, a strain of Panama ailment that wiped out the commercial cultivation of the Gros Michel banana variety in the mid-1960s.

Hobby gardeners should not avoid growing dwarf Cavendish bananas, but they should watch for signs of Fusarium-like wilting and be ready to act. Take good care of this tree and eat dwarf Cavendish bananas!

One of the Standard Dwarf Cavendish bananas reaches a height of about 9′ and a Super dwarf variety reaches a height of about 4′.

Musa acuminata (group AAA), ‘Giant Cavendish’, ‘Williams Hybrid’

If you buy bananas at the local supermarket, this is most likely what you get. Giant Cavendishes are not a dwarf banana variety, but they can be trained to grow rather small if you do not grow them for fruiting purposes. It is currently the most popular dessert banana in the world and the most imported.

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