Banana trees are herbaceous plants native to tropical regions of Australia and Asia, where they grow in jungle habitats. Banana plants belong to the Musa genus, and within this, there are over 70 different species of banana plants. Most of these species thrive in full sun, though there are some exceptions. Here we will look at the best lighting conditions for various different banana trees.
While these plants are widely known as banana trees, they actually lack a woody trunk and so are not botanically considered to be true trees. They are cultivated in hot climates around the world for their popular fruits, and they also make excellent ornamental garden plants and houseplants due to their stunning, oversized tropical leaves.
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Best Lighting Conditions for Fruiting Banana Trees
If you want your banana plant to produce fruits then you are going to need to grow it in a climate that mimics the conditions of the banana tree’s natural habitat.
While banana plants can grow well in a range of climates, the plant needs continual long hours of full sun for several months in order for fruit to set. If you cannot provide this, you can still successfully grow banana plants, but they will be ornamental as opposed to yielding fruits.
To produce edible fruits, most types of banana plants will need a minimum of 9 months of continuously bright, sunny conditions. Some will need as long as 16 months in a position of full sun. After fruits have formed and set, a further 2 to 4 months of consistently warm and sunny weather is required to allow the bananas to ripen.
Best Lighting Conditions for Ornamental Banana Trees
Ornamental banana trees should be grown in a position of full sun, however, since these trees do not need to produce fruits, the level of sun they receive is not as vital.
Most species of banana plants grown for ornamental purposes will thrive in full sun, but some shade is also tolerated. Lower sun levels can contribute to slower growth, but the plant will still continue to grow and remain healthy.
Best Lighting Conditions for Banana Houseplants
Banana plants make good houseplants because they thrive in warm temperatures, so if you live in a climate that is not hot enough to grow a banana plant outside, you can grow it in a container in your home. Banana plants need high levels of light and high levels of humidity, so you’ll need to be sure to grow them in a spot that accommodates these needs.
High humidity levels are typically found in bathrooms, though in an average-sized home the bathroom will not typically be big enough to accommodate a banana plant as they can grow to be very large. Lighting can also be an issue in bathrooms because they tend to have smaller windows with frosted glass which limits the amount of sun the plant can get. Instead, situate your plant in the brightest room in the house.
This will usually be in a room that has a south-facing window. Some banana plants can be vulnerable to scorch from too much sun, though most will fare well directly in front of a bright window. If you notice scorch marks on the foliage of the banana plant, move it a few feet away from the window. In order to meet the humidity needs of the plant, it should be spritzed with a water mist spray daily, or set on a pebble tray.
Do All Banana Plants Need Full Sun?
The vast majority of banana plants thrive in full sun, though there are some exceptions to this. Even those who prefer full sun can survive in partial shade, but you should expect growth to be at a slightly slower rate, and the eventual height of the plant may be reduced.
There are also some varieties that prefer a partially shaded position, which is ideal if you aren’t able to accommodate a banana plant in a position of full sun.
Banana Plant Varieties and Lighting Requirements
This is one of the most commonly grown varieties of dessert bananas that are produced for commercial distribution. There are numerous cultivars of the species, of which the Cavendish banana is one of the most popular. The plant is native to South Asia and typically grows to around 20 feet in height with a spread of around 12 feet.
The paddle-shaped leaves will usually span 10 feet in length, making it a stunning plant to grow as an ornamental. The Musa acuminata grows in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, and thrives in full sun. The plant can tolerate some partial shade, such as dappled shade in the heat of the afternoon when the sun is at its most intense. For best fruit production, the Musa acuminata should be grown in full sun.
This species of banana plant is widely known as the Japanese Banana because it was once believed to be native to Japan. This has since been disproved and we know the plant hails from China, however, the common name of Japanese Banana has remained.
This is widely known to be among the most cold-hardy of all banana plants, so it is ideal for gardeners living in cooler climates who want to add some tropical foliage to the landscape. The plant can be grown through USDA hardiness zones 5 to 11, however, in zones 5 to 8 the leaves will die from frost.
In these zones, you should grow your plant in a container that can be moved indoors during fall and winter, or if grown in the grown you should remove the frost-damaged leaves and mulch over the soil. The roots will not die, and the plant will regrow in spring. The Musa basjoo should be grown in full sun for optimal growth. It does produce banana fruits, but these are not edible.
This is a small variety of banana plants commonly known as the Scarlet Banana. It grows up to 3 feet in height, producing flowers enveloped in vivid scarlet bracts.
The fruits that follow are not edible. This is one of the more shade-tolerant banana plants, which can thrive in both full sun and partial shade. It will grow well in dappled sunlight, in USDA hardiness zones 11 and 12.
This banana plant is native to India. It produces fruits that are edible, however, they are so heavily populated with seeds that most people find them too much trouble to eat.
The plant grows in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, in full sun. It can reach 9 feet in height, with leaves spanning 6 feet in length.
This is another species of banana native to India, which is slightly more cold hardy than most, being suitable for growth in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. In frost-free climates, it will be evergreen, while in colder regions it will die back in the winter and reemerge in spring.
It is known as the Pink Banana since the flower bracts are a bright fuchsia pink color. It should be grown in full sun for the best growth.