There's something mystical about a pink velvet banana that comes from the Himalayan Mountains. Musa velutina is a species of wild banana that is native to Assam and the eastern Himalayas. It produces copious flower stalks near the top of the trunk starting in late summer. The flower stalks have pink stems and bright pink, petal-like bracts. Each stalk is soon home to attractive clusters of small, pink, velvety bananas, which peel themselves when ripe. Musa velutina is a hardy, fast-growing banana tree that often flowers and fruits in its first year. They usually grow up to 4-6 feet high by 3-5 feet wide. Although they seem to have a stem, the base of the plant is actually made up of the large (1-2 foot) leaf stalks which actually make it more of a giant herb than a tree. It spreads rhizomatically to form lush colonies of pure tropical glory. In Summer, it produces showy hot-pink hummer-attracting flower spikes followed by fuzzy pink bananas. The fruit matures to reddish brown, splitting open when ripe. Grown mostly as an ornamental, the fruits are sweet and tasty. The fruits contain a number of black seeds. Remains evergreen in frost free zones. Once established, Musa velutina seems to be fully winter-hardy in zone 7b as long as they are grown in full sun. Until well-established, a cage of shredded leaves around the trunk in the winter months should do the trick. In cold Winter areas it will die to the ground, returning in the spring bigger and better than ever. Suitable for growing in a container and can be over-wintered indoors where it can flower and fruit. Mulch roots for added protection from cold. Zones 8-11.
Seeds are stored in a refrigerator to maintain viability.
The seeds have a hard seed coat that has to be treated, or scarified, in order for water to enter the seeds so that they can sprout.
- Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
- Soak the seed in water for 24-48 hours.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. The seeds can take 1 month or more to germinate.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.