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How to Care for Blood Banana Plants

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Will Need

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

About the Author


Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.