Curios and exciting, the Blue Java Banana is a blue fruit bearing and delicious banana cultivar that is becoming ever-popular across the globe.
With a creamy, gooey, delicious fruit the ice-cream banana tree is a fun addition for those who enjoy growing fruiting plants at home. Here’s our grower’s guide to growing happy and healthy blue java bananas.
Are Blue Java Bananas Real?
While they may look like something out of a story book, Blue Java Bananas are in fact real and can be grown in most climates. You might be wondering; can the bananas really be blue?
They can, and these ones do turn a particularly curious shade of blue before ripening. There are over 1000 types of banana cultivars and this one is a hybrid from the Musa balbisiana and Musa acuminate varieties.
This fabulously freaky fruit is known for its creamy texture and sweet, vanilla flavor. Plus, as it has a wonderfully gooey texture it’s ideal for pureeing and freezing for ice creams.
While this cultivar might take a few months to bear fruit, the wait is most definitely worth it.
Nutritional Benefits of the Blue Java Banana
Like most bananas, the blue java is a great source of vitamins and potassium. Not only do blue javas support digestive health, but they are rich in antioxidants. Other key nutritional compounds include:
- Vitamins C & B6
Plus, blue java bananas contain small but valuable amounts of:
Where Do You Get Blue Java Bananas?
This cultivar can be found to grow naturally throughout Hawaii but as it’s partially cold tolerant, it has grown global popularity and can now be found far and wide – although, like most banana plants, it prefers a warmer climate.
Ice-cream banana trees grow between 10 to 20 feet tall and once they begin fruiting, will continue to fruit annually in the right conditions.
Other common names you may find for the blue java banana include:
- Ice Cream Banana Tree
- Hawaiian Banana
- Blue Banana
How to Grow Blue Java Banana Trees
When it comes to growing blue java banana or blue java in your own garden, you’ll want to make sure you find the right spot to guarantee a solid bunch of bananas.
Propagation is not always the easiest for the blue java, but once your blue java plant has begun to grow, the care is fairly straightforward especially for anyone with a green thumb.
Propagating Ice Cream Banana Tree
Unfortunately, propagating blue java bananas from a seed is entirely unreliable. Not only is the production of seeds uncommon in hybrid species, but any seeds you may find will have a low germination rate.
It’s recommended to purchase a seedling from tissue culture or to carefully divide a pup from the corm of an existing, healthy ice cream banana plant.
You will need to take utmost care when removing a pup to avoid any tissue damage to the original plant.
Growing Blue Java Bananas
If you’re planning on planting your seedling into your garden, you’ll want to make sure you find the right spot.
The level of sun of very important for growing a big bunch of bananas. You’ll want to find a spot that gets at least 8 to 12 hours of sun a day.
What Type of Soil to Use
Although Banana plants generally love a good level of water, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of well-draining soil to avoid water-logged roots which may cause infection.
It is recommended to treat the soil with coconut coir or peat moss before planting to improve soil quality. Adjust and maintain your soil's PH at a 5.5 to 7.5 balance.
Blue java trees enjoy warmer climates, so should you live in an area which experiences colder weather, consider planting within a greenhouse or a sunny spot indoors.
When planting into soil, be sure to dig a hole as deep as your pot and twice as wide. Plant your ice cream banana tree, ensuring the rhizome is just below the soil surface and enabling it to stand straight when standing. Fill the rest of the soil, water and mulch.
Ice Cream Banana Tree Care Guide
As with most fruiting plants, there is a little bit of care involved throughout the growing cycle. From consistent watering, to fertilization to pruning to harvesting, there are certain instructions you’ll want to follow.
Here's our Ice Cream Banana Tree Care Guide:
Watering Blue Java Banana Tree
You’ll want to water your blue java banana plant as regularly as possible, unless it’s a particularly rainy season. Daily or every alternate day is ideal. Make sure, however, that your soil is draining adequately.
What Fertilizer to Use
A high phosphorous, 10-10-10 fertilizer should be used for the beginning growing cycles. Once established switch to a 10-10-20 fertilizer. Refrain from fertilizing during the winter time.
Pruning Blue Java Banana Tree
Your ice cream banana tree will only need simple, minimal pruning. It will take 15 to 24 months for the main stem to grow. As pups or suckers begin to form off of the base stalk, be sure to remove the weaker ones and so the plant can focus on the growth of the more vigorous ones.
You will also want to remove any yellowed leaves. Once it has completed fruiting, cut back the adult stalk back to the corm. Ensure you’ve sterilized your loppers to avoid disease spread before any pruning.
If you’re wondering how long it takes for blue java bananas to bear fruit, you will need to wait about 9 months. Which is actually quite short against other fruit trees.
Your ice cream banana tree will first begin to flower, which will then peel away to reveal the bud. Soon, you banana bunch will begin to fruit.
As they become a 1/3 of their size, loosely cover your banana bunch with some row cover material. Once they begin to yellow, you’ll know they are ripe.
Harvesting Blue Java Banana
You’ll usually be able to harvest 150 days after flowering. Once the flower petals begin to turn crisp, you’ll know it’s time to harvest. It’s recommended to ask a friend for help when harvesting, so you won’t damage your beautiful fruit.
Ask someone to hold the bunch while you saw through the main stem, just above the banana bunch. Thereafter, you can lower the bunch to the ground and carefully cut off each banana with a knife.
The best way to store your bananas for a long period of time is to freeze them.
Common Ice Cream Banana Pests and Diseases
Unfortunately, banana trees are prone to certain pests and diseases. Beyond the occasional moth or caterpillar, you will want to keep an eye out for the following pests.
Banana Aphids, Mealy Bugs & Spider Mites
Aphids, mealybugs and spider mites are particularly problematic as they suck the sap and can spread diseases. Try using a natural pesticide or neem oil known to curb aphids.
Coquit or Banana Fruit Scarring Beetle
The banana fruit scarring beetle is a common problem for banana planters. You can treat this problem with sticky traps or pyrethrin.
Leaf spot is a common plant disease and luckily, can easily be treated. Simply apply a plant friendly fungicide
Panama disease or banana wilt is a major problem you’ll want to be attentive to. Unfortunately, there is no known cure and you will be forced to destroy your entire banana plant.
This disease can be transmitted by wind, water or infected soil so shouldn’t be an issue if you’re growing in a greenhouse.
Blue Java Banana Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for blue java bananas to fruit?
The fruits will begin to bloom around 15 to 24 months after planting and ripened fruits can be harvested after 115 to 150 days on average.
How fast do blue java banana trees grow?
In optimal conditions, these trees will usually grow quite rapidly up to an average of 12 to 15 ft. annually. Fruiting will normally occur after around two growing seasons.
How cold hardy is the blue java banana tree?
This variety of banana tree is more cold-tolerant than others. It can normally survive with a protective wrap down to about 20°F but not for overly extended periods.
Can you grow blue java bananas indoors?
Hardiness zones 8 to 11 are recommended for permanent outdoor growing. If you live in zones 4 to 7, you can consider growing your tree in a large container on your patio and then moving the tree indoors during the colder periods of the year.
Wrapping Up Blue Java Banana Growing and Care Guide
So, there you have it. Everything you’ll need to know to grow happy, healthy and delicious blue java bananas. Be sure to allow your blue java banana plant plenty of sunlight and that it’s rooted in some really well-draining soil.
Keep it occasionally fertilized and after a few months, you’ll enjoy some quirky and delicious blue java banana grown in your own backyard.