How to Grow and Care for Velvet Banana Trees

A Surprisingly Cold Hardy and Attractive Tropical Ornamental Specimen

Close up of a flowering Velvet Banana Tree (Musa velutina)

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The pink velvet banana tree (Musa velutina) is generally grown for its highly ornamental value rather than for the small, pink, hairy bananas that it produces.

It might be referred to as a tree, but it doesn't tend to grow over six feet in height, and the abundant leaf stalks at the base mean it more closely resembles a giant, sturdy herb.

Despite being a tropical perennial, it's surprisingly cold hardy. In warmer regions, it remains evergreen and although not as spectacular as when it's in bloom, it can still add some winter interest to your garden.

It also does well in containers and can be overwintered indoors or throughout the year. Just be aware that pink velvet banana trees kept in containers won't grow as large as outdoor specimens.

Progressing into the summer, the pink banana will display pretty cream-colored flowers that have pink bracts. By late summer to early fall the plant produces a sweet, tangy, fuzzy fruit that opens itself as it ripens.

Although the small, white-fleshed fruit is soft and edible, it contains lots of tough black seeds that are tricky to pick out. They can cause damage to teeth.

Part of this plants appeal is that it grows quickly, plus it can produce flowers and fruit in its first established season.

Botanical Name Musa veutina
Common Name Pink velvet banana, hair banana, pink banana
Plant Type Tropical perennial
Mature Size Up to 6 feet tall
Sun Exposure Full sun/ partial shade
Soil Type Prefers a fertile, moist, well-drained soil
Soil pH Prefers a neutral to slightly acidic pH level
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Cream to yellow with red bracts
Hardiness Zones 7 to 11
Native Area Northeastern India and the Himalayas

How to Grow Pink Velvet Banana Tree

Pink velvet banana trees are considered one of the hardiest and easiest-to-grow of all the tropical banana tree species. Although they can take up to a decade to reach their full height, they establish early, start blooming in their first year, and can handle more temperate outdoor climates.

They prefer a sunny position, moist and well-drained soil, and like to be fed and watered generously during the spring and summer.

If you experience a cold snap during winter, if they're grown in a container, this can easily be brought indoors when the weather changes.

Light

Pink velvet banana trees prefer a sheltered position out of harsh winds. Although they like sun or partial shade, intense direct sunlight isn't appreciated.

Soil

This plant thrives in a fertile, humusy, moist, well-drained soil. It won't do well if the soil is too alkaline. It prefers a neutral to slightly acidic pH level.

During the growing season, in the spring and summer, pink velvet bananas will appreciate being fed regularly with fertilizer.

Water

To see the best results from your pink velvet banana tree, you should keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, through the spring and summer. This isn't a drought-tolerant plant, and if the soil or potting mix becomes dried out, it can prevent healthy growth.

Watering should be cut back significantly through the winter season.

Temperature and Humidity

These plants need a sheltered spot out of strong winds to prevent the leaves from becoming damaged.

Pink velvet banana trees prefer warmer climates and do best in regions where the temperature sits around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite this, they're a comparatively resilient banana family species. Although the foliage can die off or turn brown at the edges if temperatures hit as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, it'll still grow back healthy once the spring arrives.

If you plan to leave the plant outdoors, if the temperatures will go down this low, you should cover the ground around it with a heavy mulch to protect the roots.

Propagating Pink Velvet Banana Tree

Pink velvet banana trees can be propagated by taking a cutting from the rhizomatous roots. They just need to be kept warm and moist while they germinate, and they'll appreciate being dipped in rooting hormone.

Pruning

If your pink velvet banana tree suffers from severe frost damage over the winter, it's best to cut it right back to encourage healthy regrowth in the spring. If there are old, browning leaves these can be removed to make way for new and vigorous ones.

Harvesting

The white flesh from inside the pink and hairy fruit that grows on these trees is edible and has a sweet taste. When they're ripe, they start to open themselves so you'll need to keep a close eye so you don't miss the right window of opportunity for harvesting.

pink velvet bananas aren't often eaten, however, as they're rather small and filled with hard black seeds that are difficult to remove.

Growing From Seeds

Pink velvet banana trees can be established from seed if the temperatures are warm enough and they get enough natural light. It's important to soak the seeds for around 24 hours in warm water before they're sown.

Be sure to select a well-draining medium and keep it moist throughout the germination period—which can be up to six months.