The red banana tree is worth growing for the leaves alone. From dark burgundy to green, yellow and orange, the foliage makes a statement in any garden. But the fruit of the red banana tree holds its own. The skin can be yellow to dark burgundy and the flesh creamy white to pink and sweet. Stalks form in late summer and ripen by spring. Depending upon the variety the red banana can grow from 8 to 25 feet tall and is hardy in zone 8 to 11.
Red bananas need full sun for best fruit production but will tolerate partial shade, especially from the hot afternoon sun in warmer climates. Banana leaves are susceptible to tearing, so protect them from the wind.
Red banana trees need well-drained, but moist, slightly acidic soil. Before you plant your banana, loosen the soil to 24 inches deep and wide and replace it with 50 percent rich organic soil and 50 percent course sand to assure good drainage.
Banana trees grow very quickly and need frequent applications of fertilizer. Once a month during the growing season, feed your red banana tree a 8:10:8 fertilizer, making sure not to get any fertilizer on the trunk of your red banana. A mature banana tree will need two pounds of fertilizer every month. Younger plants will need a third of that. Plants growing in containers also need applications of fertilizer once a month but half the amount of plants growing in the ground.
Water your red banana tree frequently, keeping the soil moist, but don’t leave it in standing water. Spread a thick layer of mulch around the banana to help the soil conserve water and protect the shallow root system.
Bananas are not frost tolerant. If your red banana is a dwarf variety, bring it inside the house before the first expected frost and place it near a south facing window. Red bananas growing in the garden should be cut to the ground and covered with 6 to 8 inches of mulch.
The red banana isn’t actually a tree but an herbaceous perennial and doesn't need traditional pruning as the leaves grow on a central stem. However, the plant will produce new growth appearing next to the main stem. These should be cut at the ground level until the plant is 8 months old. Once the plant is mature, let one or two new stems remain. Once your red banana fruits, the original stem will die and these new shoots will be your next banana tree. .
Bananas have very few pests. Watch for slugs and snails which will nest in the moist soil but won't significantly harm your red banana. In some regions, gophers will disturb the shallow root system and the tree will fall. Nematodes, small worm-like insects, may feed on your red banana tree and could kill it but don’t often attack healthy plants.