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A Guide to Ice Cream Banana Trees

Turn your home into a tropical paradise with an ice cream banana tree. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the tree, including what it looks like and how to grow and maintain one.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 06/03/2024

The ice cream banana tree is one of more than 1,000 types of banana trees in the world. Its bananas have a creamy texture and vanilla custard taste, making them a sweeter alternative to the typical banana you would buy at your local grocery store.

No matter where you live in the United States, you can grow an ice cream banana tree outside in your yard or garden or in a large pot inside your home. Keep reading our guide to learn how to grow and maintain an ice cream banana tree.

Ice Cream Banana Tree Overview

Fruit size

Up to 9 inches long

Fruit uses

Eat raw or cooked in a recipe like banana bread

Fruit color

Blue-green skin before the banana is ripe, yellow skin and white flesh when the banana is ripe

Fruit texture and flavor

Creamy texture, vanilla ice cream flavor


Most regions, except parts of the North, Midwest, and Alaska

Hardiness Zone

8–11 in the ground, 4–11 potted on a patio or inside

Growing season



Cool weather, wind


Root rot

What Does an Ice Cream Banana Tree Look Like?

The ice cream banana tree is long and skinny. Its height varies from 10 to 20 feet tall, with the leaves growing to be as large as 9 feet long and 2 feet wide. The leaves and stem on a healthy ice cream banana tree are lime green, and the blossoms that the banana grows out of are red.

The banana skin is blue-tinted before the banana is ripe, hence its first name—the blue java banana. The banana fruit has white flesh when ripe and its creamy texture and vanilla ice cream flavor give it its second name, the ice cream banana.

Before you plant an ice cream banana tree, make sure you live in an area with the proper growing conditions that will allow the plant to flourish.

This plant does best in temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Direct sunlight is preferred, but the plant can still survive under partial sun. In fact, 30%–50% shade is the best for promoting leaf growth, which is important in the beginning stages of tree growth.

The soil should be fertile and well-drained with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, which is toward the acidic side of the pH scale. Banana trees do not tolerate salty soil well, so if you live in a coastal area, you may have to dig up the ground and replace it with new soil.

To maintain the proper soil conditions, fertilize once a month during warm weather. The best fertilizer grade to use is 3-1-6, which is 3% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus, and 6% potassium. The higher level of potassium allows for a quality fruit crop and prevents the plant from drying out.

Ice cream banana trees require waterings about once a day. Make sure the root systems stay wet by giving it a deep watering every time you water the fruit tree. Standing water will kill the plant by rotting the rhizome, so make sure the soil is wet but not soaking.

The ice cream banana tree grows best in warmer climates in Zones 8–11, where you can plant the tree outdoors. If you plan on keeping the banana tree in a pot on your patio or inside next to a window, you can grow one in Zones 4 to 11.

How to Plant an Ice Cream Banana Tree

Ice cream banana trees can be planted in your yard, in a large pot on your patio, or inside your home next to a large window.

  1. If you decide on an outdoor location, dig a hole that’s twice as wide as the pot and just as deep.
  2. Plant the rhizome—the mass of roots given to you when you purchase the tree—just below the soil surface (1 or 2 inches below the soil), ensuring that it’s level with the ground and standing straight up.
  3. Fill in the hole with soil, pressing down to prevent air pockets.
  4. Water and mulch around the tree to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.

From the rhizome, a pseudostem—tightly bound leaf sheaths that look like a stem—will sprout up. The true stem will emerge from the pseudostem 10 to 15 months after planting. From this stem, a bundle of banana flowers will bloom, and bananas will grow out of those flowers and be ready to pick 115 to 150 days after they emerge.

Make sure to remove damaged or broken leaves. After the tree produces bananas, trim it back and let the stem dry out for one to two weeks. Once it’s dry, remove the stem. This will allow new stalks to grow.

Banana trees live for about six years, but each stem only lives long enough to produce fruit. After picking the fruit, the stem will die, and a new one will grow from the rhizome to give you your next round of bananas.

Tolerance and Susceptibility

Ice cream banana trees are fairly cold- and wind-tolerant. The biggest killer of banana trees in the United States is root rot, a disease where the roots rot and the plant decays from excessive water or a fungus that lives in the soil.

There are other diseases and fungi common in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America that can attack ice cream banana trees, but none of these typically affect those in the United States.

Wildlife Threats

Common insects like aphids, moths, and caterpillars may attack the banana leaves on your tree. The best way to prevent this from happening is by spraying an insecticide or applying an organic pest solution.

Read more: How to Fight Aphids Naturally

Our Conclusion

If you some gardening skills, planting an ice cream banana tree may be a good choice for your next project. With regular watering and soil maintenance, you can get a banana that dissolves in your mouth and tastes like ice cream.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ice Cream Banana Trees

Is an ice cream banana tree considered a tree?

Banana trees technically aren’t trees—they don’t have woody trunk tissue, which means they’re actually herbs. In fact, a close relative to the banana tree is the ginger root.

How fast do ice cream banana trees grow?

From the time you plant them in soil, ice cream banana trees take about a year and a half to two years to grow ripe bananas.

Can I grow a banana tree from a banana?

Yes, you can grow a banana tree from the seeds of a banana. Before replanting the banana seeds, soak them in warm water for 24 to 48 hours to soften the seed coating, allowing them to sprout more easily. Dig a hole in the soil about 1/4 inch deep. Place the seed inside and refill the hole. Follow the same maintenance instructions from above.

Do ice cream banana trees self-pollinate?

Yes, banana trees self-pollinate, which means you don’t need another tree nearby to help with fertilization. However, planting another tree nearby will increase your yield. Bananas are tropical fruits and grow best in warm, humid climates. Planting another tree next to it will lock in heat and humidity for the portions of the trees that are next to each other.

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