No matter what the weather is outside, you can keep your house looking like summer with a tropical houseplant like the Chinese dwarf banana tree. Not only do they make wonderful indoor trees, but they can surprisingly be grown outside in areas with cold winters.
This stunning variety has a yellow flower that looks very much like a lotus. Interestingly, the large lotus display is actually a pseudo flower. The little flowers growing in between the bracts, or leaves of the larger pseudo flower, are the actual flowers. These large lotus-like blooms last for months and sit on top of a thick stem. Once this plant blooms, the stem keeps very few leaves.
Plants without their flower look like miniature banana trees with large, long, rounded, tropical foliage. After flowering, the main plant dies back and produces pups (young plants). These flower after two or three years.
In an outdoor garden, these pups could create a banana tree forest. However, the fruit is not edible from this variety.
|Botanical Name||Musa lasiocarpa|
|Common Name||Chinese Dwarf Banana Tree, Golden Lotus Plant|
|Plant Type||Perennial or houseplant|
|Mature Size||4 to 12 feet high; 4 to 8 feet wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil Type||Rich and well-draining|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic|
|Bloom Time||Summer to fall|
|Hardiness Zones||7 to 10|
|Native Area||China and Vietnam|
How to Grow Chinese Dwarf Banana Trees
Chinese dwarf banana trees are an easy-to-care-for, hardy plant that can even tolerate plunging winter temperatures. For outdoor gardens or lush poolside foliage, plant your banana tree in the spring and water it regularly, especially as it gets established.
Though this variety of banana tree is quite hardy, be sure you protect it from winter’s cold, wet conditions. A fantastic way to do this is with straw and a tarp.
Maintenance is easy. Simply trim off old leaves and blossoms. The pseudo flower lotus bloom will last all season once it blooms, so sit back and enjoy its eye-catching beauty.
To receive one of these statement blooms, you may need to wait a few years. These banana trees bloom after two or three years of growth. During this time, it produces large, round leaves and builds its stem up, which is actually a stack of the leaf bases.
This plant loves abundant sunshine. If you are keeping it as a houseplant, place it near a window to give it as much natural light as possible.
If you are planting your Chinese dwarf banana tree outside in a very hot climate, opt for a place with some dappled afternoon shade to give it a break from the heat and avoid the soil from drying out too quickly.
These plants appreciate lots of nutrients to be able to produce its showy flowers, so give it rich soil. Be sure that your soil is well-draining.
Chinese dwarf banana trees love water but hate soggy roots—making drainage a very important aspect of their soil to consider.
For the best growth and longevity of these plants, be sure to water regularly. However, be careful that you don’t overwater Chinese dwarf banana trees since doing so can introduce other problems including root rot and fungus.
If you are keeping your Chinese dwarf banana tree outside in an area with cold winter temperatures, start holding back water as the days get cooler in the fall season. This will help the plant transition into dormancy for the winter. Particularly in the winter, too much moisture can be fatal.
Temperature and Humidity
Surprisingly hardy for cold temperatures, these banana trees can even be grown in USDA hardiness zone 7, where winters dip below freezing. They are native to China and Vietnam and are found in high altitudes.
However, some precautions will be necessary to help the plant cope with cold weather and overwinter successfully.
A great way to do this is by covering the dormant plants with a tarp and loose straw to keep it safe from winter’s chilly, wet conditions.
Pull back the tarp and straw once any danger of frost is gone. This will allow the warmth of spring to get into the soil and encourage your banana tree to begin growing again.
Because these trees like rich soil, adding organic material to the soil will produce good results. Things like compost or fish emulsion are wonderful. You could also use a well-balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during its growing season to encourage growth.
Potting and Repotting
If you are keeping your Chinese dwarf banana tree as a houseplant or in a container outside, you won’t need to worry about repotting often. In fact, these plants grow wonderfully in containers and actually like to be root-bound.
If your banana tree is outgrowing its container, the best way to handle repotting is by dividing its pups, or new young plants, and keeping your now smaller plant in its current container.
Propagating Chinese Dwarf Banana Trees
Chinese dwarf banana trees create new plants by producing pups, or new young plants. This makes propagating easy. Here’s how to do it:
1. Find a pup that has 3 or 4 leaves.
2. Using a sharp spade or shears, remove your pup from the mother plant. You may need to take your banana tree out of its pot to do this.
3. Keep some roots and corm (the storage organ for some plants that is similar to a bulb) on the pup.
4. Place the pup in its own container with rich, well-draining soil. Water thoroughly.