How to Care for Blood Banana Plants


The Red Banana or Blood Banana (Musa zebrina) is an ornamental banana tree originally from Indonesia. Gardeners grow the tree for its mottled, red foliage rather than its banana fruit. The plant reaches a short height of four to 10 feet and will grow in USDA hardiness zones eight through 11. The Blood Banana makes an attractive alternative to more common ornamental plants. Though it may appear exotic, the Blood Banana has only basic care requirements.

Step 1

Plant the Blood Banana tree in the appropriate soil. Blood Bananas require a light, well-drained soil. Amend your outdoor dirt with compost or peat moss as needed. If you're growing the Blood Banana in a pot, use three parts of a standard soil mixture and one part vermiculite or perlite.

Step 2

Give the Blood Banana a minimum of six to eight hours of sunlight. The more sunlight the plant receives, the brighter its foliage colors. If growing the plant outside, select a growing area that receives full sun or trim back surrounding trees and plants to expose more of the plant. If you're growing the banana tree in a pot, set it in an area that is exposed to sunshine.

Step 3

Fertilize the Blood Banana tree weekly. The banana tree requires large amounts of nutrients to grow successfully. Use a standard 9-3-27 fertilizer, available from all nurseries and garden stores. Apply at a rate of three cups of fertilizer for every cubic foot of soil surrounding your banana plant.

Step 4

Water the banana tree. Water the base of the tree thoroughly until the soil is moist. Allow the surface dirt to dry to a depth of one-half of an inch before watering again. The time it takes for the soil to dry varies according to your climate. You will notice a general schedule over time.

Step 5

Propagate the Blood Banana tree if you wish to grow new banana trees. Every year, the banana tree will sprout new rhizomes, or stem nodes with their own roots, off of the side of the main tree. Chop off these rhizomes with a spade and plant them in a new location to start more Blood Banana trees.

Things You'll Need

  • Blood Banana tree
  • Soil mix
  • Vermiculite or perlite
  • Fertilizer
  • Spade


  • "Hot Plants for Cool Climates: Gardening Wth Tropical Plants in Temperate Zones;" Dennis Schrader; 2005
  • University of FLorida: About Ornamental Tropical Plants
Keywords: banana tree, blood banana, plant care

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.