The Japanese Fiber Banana: Beautiful & Practical

hardy banana, musa basjoo, Japanese Fiber Banana

The Japanese fiber banana beautiful, practical and can be over wintered outdoors almost anywhere in the United States. I’m surprised that it isn’t more widely grown, especially when, in the late fall, I sometimes see the non hardy types being tossed out in the trash, by homeowners who don’t want to be bothered with an indoor tree.. The Japanese Fiber Banana (Musa Basjoo) has been successfully overwintered, outdoors, in most of the northern states. I know from personal experience that it does quite well in NJ and in Oklahoma with no special protection. Our trees have survived brief periods of cold, down to -16 F., yet they come up every spring.

What’s a Japanese Fiber Banana Good For?

  • This plant is beautiful.
  • It can provide valuable shade, if planted strategically.
  • The leaves and stems are considered tasty by most animals which graze.
  • It’s leaves can be used for making tamales!

The fiber banana is beautiful

This plant lends a tropical ambiance wherever it’s planted.

It can provide valuable shade, if planted strategically.

We grow one in front of a South facing window in our daughter’s house. In the afternoon, during the heat of the summer, a lot of heat tends to come through that window. But the Japanese fiber banana fixes that problem.

banana, bananas for shade, Japanese fiber banana, hardy banana
This hardy banana tree can lower ones cooling bill during the summer!

It’s an added blessing that the light which filters in through this window is a deep, peaceful jungle green. I love it! In the winter we want that solar heat to come through the window. At that time of the year, this banana tree has died to the ground, so the window is fully exposed to the sun.

Banana leaves and stems are considered a treat by most herbivores.

banana leaves, animal forage, banana plant, Japanese fiber banana
Most domestic herbivores adore banana leaves and stems.

In the fall, when freezing temperatures are imminent, we cut the leaves and stems to give to our goats, sheep, cattle and rabbits. The entire stalk, even when over 6″ in diameter, is edible for these animals.

Banana Leaves Can Be Used to Make Tamales

No, they’re not an ingredient. They’re the wrapper. Used as a wrapper when the tameles are cooked, banana leaves impart a special flavor to the final product.

Banana leaves could replace some plastic when it comes to wrapping food stuff for the fridge or transport.

Did you know that before plastic was so widely used, banana leaves were used to wrap food? By growing a Japanese Fiber Banana, anyone would have access to plenty of material for wrapping sandwiches to take to work, etc. The leaves are easily composted after use.

How can I get a start for my yard?

These plants are propagated by division. They form enormous root balls which are easy to split. Spring time is the best time, but I bet one could plant a “pup” almost any time. The first winter, after planting, it might be good to give it a heavy leaf or straw mulch, just to make sure it get’s established. After that, it probably won’t need protection.

If you know someone who has this plant, you could ask for a cutting. Sometimes they are sold via Craigslist. Also, they are commonly listed on as well as by various on-line nurseries.

A baby banana plant is called a “pup.”

banana pup, hardy banana, Japanese fiber banana
Banana pups

The first growing season each plant may reach 4′ in height. In following years they may reach 15′.

Cultural Considerations for the Japanese Fiber Banana

  • While small, the banana plants may require some watering during extreme heat and drought.
  • Bananas are heavy feeders. They may die out, after a couple seasons, if they are not fed. I’ve found that a 5 gallon pail of chicken manure, dumped on top of the roots, during cold weather, serves to keep them well nourished for the coming year.t.

Musa Basjoo: Plant Profile from Dave’s Garden

Black Locust, A Neglected Treasure


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