The cinnamon scent, exotic leaves and exceptional fruit color of Musa velutina (pink velvet banana or hairy banana) will add a tropical flair to any garden and are hard to resist once you have seen them. With adequate winter mulch, its cold hardiness makes it possible to be grown outside tropical zones.
While it can be grown primarily for its large leafy foliage, given ample nutrition and water it will develop deep pink flowers in late spring or early summer followed by attractive clusters of fruit. The small, bright pink fuzzy bananas are actually edible if you don’t mind dealing with the many seeds, which can be used to easily grow more banana plants. While not truly a dwarf form, this species remains relatively small, 5-6 feet tall. This makes it easy to observe its flowers, then its fruit, which peels itself back when ripe. With proper humidity, Musa velutina makes a striking houseplant.
Catalog or Internet sales may be your best source for this memorable banana.
Common Name: Pink velvet banana or hairy banana
Botanical Name: Musa velutina
Color: Blue-green shiny foliage, pink flowers and deep pink fruit
Size: 4-6 feet high and 3-5 feet wide
Cold Hardiness: Zones 7b-10
Type: Ornamental banana
Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
How to Plant: Plant in a sunny spot sheltered from strong winds. In colder areas, mulch well in winter. Will die back in freezing temperatures but new growth appears when it warms up. Can be started from seed. Provide space for mature growth size to allow for graceful arching of branches.
Soil: Well drained; amend heavy soils.
Watering: Maintain evenly moist soil but do not overwater.
Fertilizer: Apply fertilizer between May and September.
In the Landscape: Ideal around ponds and water, specimen plant in tropical gardens, does well as potted houseplant.
A version of this article appeared in print in Georgia Gardening Volume IX Issue III.