Plant DetailShow Menu

Musa basjoo is often confused with:
Strelitzia reginae Form
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Acalypha Form
Canna Flower
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis

Sichuan Hardy Banana Musa basjoo

Previously known as:

  • Musa japonica
Phonetic Spelling
MEW-suh BAS-joo

Japanese banana is a fast-growing, herbaceous perennial that has a tropical appearance. It has very large, paddle-shaped, bright green leaves that arch from the pseudo-stem. The thick false stem is created by overlapped or whorled leaves. Clusters of creamy or yellow tubular flowers appear during the summer. They are followed by small ornamental inedible fruits. In warmer climates, it is evergreen, but wherever the Japanese banana is planted it is prized for its tropical foliage and ornamental flowers. 

This plant is native to Sichuan, China. Previously, it was thought that it originated in Japan. 

The genus name, Musa, is named in honor of Antonia Musa, who was a Roman physician in the 1st century B.C. Musa is also a male name of Arabic origin. It means "saved from the water" and is based on the name of Moses. The specific epithet, basjoo, is derived from the Japanese word "basho" which means banana.

The Japanese banana prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained, humus-rich, or loam soils. If planted in containers, they should be repotted every other year, If planted outdoors, it is best to plant them in a sheltered area to protect them from strong winds. It grows best in consistently moist soils and should not be allowed to dry out. It is also recommended to fertilize the plant regularly during the growing season. They are propagated by seeds or may be divided about every 5 years. The fruit set takes 12-24 months to appear.

After the Japanese banana flowers and produces fruits, the pseudo-stem dies. The roots generate new shoots or pups that will form a new pseudo-stem.

The Japanese banana is best used as a tropical specimen or a container plant. It can be brought indoors for winter before the first frost and placed in a sunny room for overwintering. Outdoors, the rhizomes are cold hardy to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit if they are properly pruned and mulched to protect them from freezing temperatures. The plant growth will die back to the ground during the winter in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8. It is recommended that after the frost kills the leaves, the stems should be cut back to 2 feet high. Burlap, bubble wrap, or plastic wrap may be used to wrap the remaining stems. A thick layer of mulch should be applied around the base of the plant to protect the roots. 

The Japanese banana will add a tropical flare and be your garden centerpiece by your patio or pool.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom: Summer    Foliage: Spring and Summer (evergreen zones 9-10    Fruits: Summer

Quick ID Hints:

  • large, bright green, paddle-shape leaves about 2 feet wide and 6 feet long with a 12 inch long petiole
  • leaf sheaths overlap to form a pseudo-stem
  • cream to yellow tubular flowers during the summer
  • small inedible green or yellow fruits are produced after the flowers

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Potential insect pests for indoor plants are aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale. Outdoor plant insect pests may consist of grasshoppers, borers, and root nematodes. The Japanese banana is susceptible to anthracnose, wilt, and mosaic virus.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.


Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Banana Beds
Cultivars / Varieties:
#houseplant#interiorscape#accent plant#cream flowers#herbaceous perennials#pond garden#summer interest#border planting#poolside planting#patio tree#tropical feel#tropical#landscape plant sleuths course
Cultivars / Varieties:
#houseplant#interiorscape#accent plant#cream flowers#herbaceous perennials#pond garden#summer interest#border planting#poolside planting#patio tree#tropical feel#tropical#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Plant fibers are used to make'banana cloth'. The stem, flower, leaves and rhizome have been used medicinally.
    Life Cycle:
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Sichuan, China
    Native: China South-Central, China Southeast. Distribution: Japan and Korea
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    The fruits are inedible.
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 14 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 14 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Growth Rate:
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a 2 to 4-inch-long green or yellow fruit with sparse white pulp with many seeds. The fruit is inedible. The seeds are numerous and black.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Flower Shape:
    Flower Description:
    In the summer, showy yellow-orange torpedo-shaped flowers with reddish-brown to purple bracts will form at the top of the stem. The inflorescence is pendulous.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Leaf Type:
    Leaf Shape:
    Hairs Present:
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are large, narrow, bright green, paddle-shaped, oblong, or lance-shaped, and measures up to 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. The base of the leaf is rounded and asymmetrical. The petiole measures up to 12 inches long. The leaf sheaths overlap or whorl to form a pseudo-stem that is trunk-like. When the plant is mature, the leaves will arch from the top of the trunk.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Stem Description:
    This plant has a thick green pseudo-stem formed by overlapping or whorled leaves. It has no true stem.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Design Feature: