Banana is one of the first plants most of us conjure to mind when we envision the tropical look. With its long and broad, leafy foliage, it is a great plant to create a tropical feel in the garden. Treated strictly as ornamentals, these types of bananas are grown for their foliage, not for fruit. Bananas can grow to 15 feet tall and can be quite dramatic with their large leaves. Use bananas in large containers or as specimen plants in landscape beds.
- Blood banana (Musa zebrina) has purple-splotched green leaves and grows to about 8 feet tall. Hardy to USDA Zone 9.
- Red Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii') has foliage blushed with red and grows to 10 feet. Hardy to USDA Zone 9.
- Japanese fiber banana (Musa basjoo) doesn't have the beautiful coloration of the more tropical ornamental bananas, but it's much more cold-hardy (hardy to USDA Zone 6, and, well mulched, has even come back from -20 degrees F). It grows up to eight to 10 feet tall in one season. Produces huge, light-green leaves great for use in projecting the tropical look in the garden. Will not flower from the mid-South and northward, due to the short growing season.