5 Banana Trees That Grow Reliably in Texas Gardens

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Home » Texas » 5 Banana Trees That Grow Reliably in Texas Gardens

We all know and love bananas and they’ve become one of the most popular tropical fruits. Despite them being available in most supermarkets across the country, bananas are still tropical fruits and mostly grow in countries in the tropics.

However, this doesn’t mean we can’t grow bananas here in the U.S.! Bananas grow best in zones 9 through 11 and, thankfully, Texas USDA zones are 6 through 11.

The very southern part of the state can grow bananas outdoors and very well. For the rest of Texas, you can still grow a banana plant outdoors when it’s warm then just bring it inside when it gets too cold.

No Such Thing as Banana Trees?!

But let me clarify something- bananas don’t actually grow on trees!

Most people just don’t know what banana plants look like and if you have seen one, they do look like small trees. So, fair enough.

But banana plants are actually herbaceous and aren’t fruit trees at all. Banana plants grow a single, tall stalk with large leaves. Eventually the stalk will produce a flower, which is followed by the fruit- bananas!

Each plant will produce about 4 bunches of bananas as the flower develops and opens. When the plant is done flowering, it will stop producing fruit.

The bananas that appear first will naturally ripen first but it’s best to wait until the plant has produced all its fruit, then harvest the bananas all at once.

5 Types of Bananas for Your Texas Garden

1. Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree (Musa acuminata)

Cavendish Bananas
Image by Carol VanHook via Flickr

The Dwarf Cavendish is a specific species but “Cavendish” is a group of banana plants with edible fruits. Amongst all of them, the Dwarf Cavendish is one of the most popular varieties of banana plant.

These plants need a warm climate and will grow best in southern TX, zone 8 and below. However, they can be grown in a pot and brought indoors when the weather gets colder. These plants aren’t very large, so they can easily be grown in a container.

Well, Dwarf Cavendishes are pretty small in size but their leaves are grand. Banana plants have huge bright green leaves that create a stunning presence.

Their tropical look makes banana plants great choices for ornamental landscaping- plus you get bananas! Dwarf Cavendish are slightly hardier than other varieties and can be planted outdoors in central parts of Texas.

  • Other Common Names: Dwarf Banana Tree
  • Growing Zones: 8-11
  • Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 ft tall by 6-8 ft wide
  • Season: Fruits in winter

2. Grand Nain Banana Tree (Musa acuminata ‘Grande Naine’)

Grand Nain Bananas
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Grand Nain is another very popular variety of banana. In fact, this is the Chiquita banana and is the most common commercially grown banana. This means you already know well how it looks and tastes.

Grand Nain tends to be an even smaller plant and can definitely be grown in a container. This also makes it ideal for growing 100% indoors, if you have a greenhouse or sunroom.

These trees are also resilient, strong growers and are highly disease resistant. With several hours of sun, these plants produce new leaves every couple of days in the spring and summer.

They’re also quick to flower- and therefore to fruit. You can expect creamy bananas within the first year.

  • Other Common Names: Grande Naine, Chiquita Banana tree
  • Growing Zones: 9-11
  • Average Size at Maturity: 6-8 ft tall by 8-10 ft wide
  • Season: Fruits in winter

3. Blue Java Banana Tree (Musa acuminata × balbisiana ‘Blue Java’)

Blue Java Bananas are more cold tolerant than other varieties and can grow comfortably in central TX. They’re also fast growers and are larger than many varieties, being taller and having longer leaves.

But the Blue Java fruit is really what’s bananas. Blue Java is also called the Ice Cream Banana Tree because its fruit is sweet and creamy like vanilla ice cream.

These bananas are the same size as Cavendish bananas but are just much sweeter and have a creamier texture. And they’re blue!

Yes, Blue Java bananas are blue. They appear as an icy blue-green and turn yellow as they ripen. Blue Java usually flowers 18 to 24 months after being planted. So, you can typically expect fruit about 2 years after planting.

  • Other Common Names: Ice Cream Banana Tree, Blue Ice Cream Tree, Ney Manna Banana
  • Growing Zones: 8-11
  • Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 ft tall by 8-10 ft wide
  • Season: Varies

4. Dwarf Orinoco Banana Tree (Musa acuminata ‘Dwarf Orinoco’)

Musa Dwarf Orinoco Banana tree
Image by Iacopo Lorenzini via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

The Dwarf Orinoco is a variety originally from Venezuela, so you might not guess that it’s actually pretty hardy.

It is one of the few varieties that can grow in zone 7! Which means it can be grown outdoors in parts of northern TX!

However, it’s not ultra cold hardy and still needs to be protected from freezing temperatures.

Even if you have to bring it indoors for the winter, the Dwarf Orinoco can stay outside for more parts of the year than other varieties.

It’s also tolerant of very windy climates whereas many banana plants get easily damaged by heavy winds. Dwarf Orinoco also doesn’t need as much sun and can grow in part shade.

This tough plant produces tough bananas too. Orinoco bananas tend to be firmer and the peel on the fruit is thicker than most.

  • Growing Zones: 7-11
  • Average Size at Maturity: 6-10 ft tall by 3-6 ft wide
  • Season: Fruits in winter

5. Puerto Rican Plantain Banana Tree (Musa acuminata ‘Puerto Rican Plantain’)

Puerto Rican Plantain
Image by Xender ill via Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0) (Image is of a plantain plant but not specifically a Puerto Rican Plantain.)

The fruits of this tree aren’t edible directly off the tree but need to be cooked first- and these are called plantains and not bananas.

So, not bananas as you know them but closely related to the other plants described here.

Plantains soften and become sweeter when they’re cooked and can be baked, sauteed, or fried. Plantains, in many forms, are common in many Caribbean cuisines.

Among the different varieties of plantain-producing plants, the Puerto Rican plantain is softer and sweeter than many others.

Some varieties of plantain aren’t sweet at all and are eaten as part of a savory dish.

Despite their small size, these plants are strong and grow fast. They tolerate high winds, high temperatures, and drought. They just need lots of sunlight and will produce tons of fruits!

  • Other Common Names: Plantain Tree
  • Growing Zones: 9-11
  • Average Size at Maturity: 6-8 ft tall by 3-6 ft wide
  • Season: Varies

Comparing Texas Banana Tree Varieties

VarietyDescriptionGrowing ZonesAverage Size at Maturity
Dwarf Cavendish Banana TreeIt produces creamy bananas and can be grown indoors in colder regions.8-118-10 ft tall x 6-8 ft wide
Grand Nain Banana TreeKnown as the Chiquita banana, this variety is resilient, disease-resistant, and can fruit within the first year.9-116-8 ft tall x 8-10 ft wide
Blue Java Banana TreeKnown as the Ice Cream Banana due to its sweet, creamy texture and blue-tinged bananas.8-1110-15 ft tall x 8-10 ft wide
Dwarf Orinoco Banana TreeIt has firmer bananas with thicker peels and can withstand windy conditions and partial shade.7-116-10 ft tall x 3-6 ft wide
Puerto Rican Plantain Banana TreeThis variety is softer and sweeter than other plantains and is strong, fast-growing, and tolerates high temperatures and drought.9-116-8 ft tall x 3-6 ft wide

Go Loco for Bananas

Growing your own fruit trees is super rewarding because of their beauty and fresh fruits, but bananas in particular are even better grown at home.

How many times have you bought bananas from a store just for them to turn brown in a few days?

Their ability to ripen off the plant makes it hard for store-bought bananas to be fresh.

Bananas certainly aren’t a native species, but if it’s warm enough for their liking (and it usually is) why not host the tropics in your home.

The best way to get fresh, top quality bananas is to pick them yourself! Plus, most varieties of banana are self-fertile.

And, these plants will add a gorgeous, tropical touch to your home.

You can plant a banana plant in your garden, as part of your landscaping, or even just as a houseplant- that has fruit!

Consider adding a banana plant- not tree!- to your garden!

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Peyton Warmack-Chipman

Environmental Politics & Permaculture Enthusiast

Peyton considers trees not just as plants that provide shade or yummy fruits, but as necessary for a healthy life and community. Peyton has done most of her research on environmental politics, but recently has shifted her focus towards actual agricultural practices, learning about ideas like agroforestry, food forests, and permaculture gardening. She's most often in the kitchen whipping something up, but otherwise can be found on long bike rides or doing research.

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