Musa acuminata or Musa balbisiana
While there are more than 1000 varieties of bananas around the world, Cavendish bananas dominate the US market, thanks to the big plantations of Chiquita, Dole and the like.
Edible Bananas are botanically a berry, belonging to the Musa genus of flowering plants: primarily Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Cultivated dessert bananas are generally seedless, sweet hybrids of Musa acuminata, while plantains or cooking bananas are usually either from Musa balbisiana or a hybrid of the two.
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A 'bunch' of bananas: one of the most fun fruits to grow!
VARIETIES OF BANANAS
There are many kinds of interesting bananas to grow for the Florida home gardener. Let's start with a basic few: Grand Nain, Dwarf Cavendish, and Pisang Ceylon 'Lady Fingers'. All heights are measurements of the trunk height, to where the leaves begin.
Cavendish bananas are a group of cultivars of Musa acuminata that represented 47% of global banana production by 1998 to 2000. They are distinguished from one another simply by height & features of the fruit.
A cultivar of Cavendish, this is Chiquita's favorite. The name refers to its relative height, as distinguished from the Giant Cavendish and the Dwarf Cavendish. The leaves often become torn or tattered from the wind. Its name is French for "Large Dwarf".
Grand Nain grows from 6-8' tall and can produce 40-60lbs of fruit at a time. It likes a somewhat acidic soil pH of 5.8-6.2. Grows in full sun to partial sun in zones 8-11.
At 6-7' average height, this banana is one of the shortest of the Cavendish bananas. Expect up to 8' in a greenhouse, and even 10' outdoors in South Florida. Juvenile leaves will have some reddish-purple markings, but later more mature leaves will be all green. Fast growing. Winters well indoors. Grows in zones 8-11.
'Pisang Ceylon' LADY FINGERS:
Pisang Ceylon 'Lady Fingers' is the most common variety grown by Dole and used for their 'Baby Dole' or mini banana. It is an improved 'Mysore' banana. It is one of the best tasting Lady Fingers in the world, and the most popular variety grown in India.
Also known as 'Sugar Bananas', the fruits are quite sweet and only 4-5" long. They are light yellow in color and thin skinned. Bears large, compact banana bunches weighing up to 50lbs. Pisang Ceylon has a shelf life that out lasts other lady finger varieties by several days.
Plants are green-leafed with red midribs, and can also have a reddish trunk. The Pisang Ceylon cultivar is considered to be more resistant to Black Streak virus. Pisang Ceylon grows to 14-16' tall and has a stout root system, making it one of the more "wind resistant" bananas. Very hardy and drought tolerant.
We carry many more varieties than just the basics: some for flavor, some for their extended cold tolerance and easier fruiting in the temperate conditions of Central Florida.
Somewhat of a dwarf at 6-7' tall, Raji Puri is one of the more cold tolerant bananas for zones 8b & 9. It has the sweetness of a typical dessert banana, and ripens in about 5-6 months from spring, making it one of the faster bananas to fruit in the area.
RAJI PURI PINEAPPLE
Much like the Raji Puri, but slightly shorter and tangier, reminiscent of a pineapple flavor.
'BLUE JAVA' aka ICE CREAM BANANA
Ice Cream grows 12-14' tall, has a vanilla & cream flavor, and is root hardy in zone 9a, maybe some of 8b if in protected micro-climates.
Nam Wah aka DWARF ICE CREAM
Dwarf Ice Cream only reaches 5-6' tall, has a similar vanilla & cream flavor, and is root hardy in zone 9a, maybe some of 8b if grown in protected micro-climates.
MANZANO aka 'APPLE' BANANA
Like its name, 'Apple' has a distinct sweet apple flavor, strong tart apple smell, and a firmer texture than the Cavendish bananas. Not as cold tolerant as Raji Puri -- better suited to zone 9b and warmer.
Dwarf Orinoco is a vigorous growing banana that grows 5-6' tall. This is a short-season banana that is highly wind resistant, making it suitable for North Central Florida growing: zones 9a & 8b.
Flavor and texture is kinda halfway between a plantain and a dessert banana: It's more sweet and tender than a plantain, but makes an excellent cooking banana. Also works well for dehydrating or making banana chips.
2 SIZES AVAILABLE:
3g / $22:
Size of 3g plants will average 2' to 3.5' tall, depending on the season.
Dwarf varieties will also likely be shorter for the same age as the others because they are slower growing.
7g / $45:
Size of 7g plants will average 5' to 7' tall, depending on the season. Limited selections as available