Blue Java Banana Tree vs Ice Cream Banana Tree: Which To Plant & Why

Woman looking at a blue java banana tree which is also known as ice cream banana wonders how to plant and how to grow banana tree and is a banana plant actually a tree?

Have you ever heard of the Blue Java Banana tree, or the Ice Cream Banana tree?

These descriptive names are a little deceptive because the Blue Java banana is yellow when ripe, and banana’s don’t actually grow from trees.

The Banana plant resembles a tree, but there are specific distinctions that make it classified as an ‘herb.’ The stem is not woody like trees and bushes, but a succulent (like a cactus).

However, the Blue Java banana is a wonderfully unique fruit among the thousands of different kinds of trees worldwide, given its distinctive look and creamy taste.

If you’re trying to decide which one to plant…know that both terms refer to the same banana plant.

This guide explores the Blue Java Banana tree plant, outlining its unique features, the growing conditions and care it requires if you are planning to plant one, as well as the benefits of this delicious fruit.

What Is the Blue Java Banana Tree?

The Blue Java,9 or the Ice Cream Banana, earns its name from its blue color when growing and how it transforms into a gooey yellow tasty fruit, that tastes like ice cream. It is creamier than other bananas, and its unique taste has made it more popular globally.

This banana tree often grows in tropical regions, especially in Hawaii, and prefers warm climates. However, it can be planted anywhere, if the right conditions are maintained (such as a large greenhouse).

Facts About Blue Java Banana Tree

The Ice Cream Bananas are bluish-green but turn yellow as they ripen and are shorter than typical bananas.1

Below are some quick facts about the Blue Java Banana tree.

Blue Java/ Ice Cream/ Blue/ Hawaiian Banana

(Musa acuminata x balbisiana)

Close-up picture of Blue Java Banana Tree fruit in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Family: Musaceae
  • Genus: Musa
  • Leaf: Elongated, measuring over 7m long and 1m wide
  • Bark: Soft, lacking cellulose and lignin
  • Seed: 5-6 Milimeter wide, hard, angular-shaped
  • Blossoms: White or yellowish-white, male and female in one plant
  • Fruit: Elongated, bluish-green and turns yellow when ripe
  • Native Habitat: South Eastern Asia
  • Height: 10-20 Feet high
  • Canopy: Massive with more than 1.5 meters square coverage per leaf
  • Type: Herbaceous Perennial
  • Other Fact: The Blue Java Banana plant loves warm tropical climates and gets its name from its fruit’s creamy consistency and vanilla-like taste.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


How To Identify Blue Java Banana Tree: What Does It Look Like?

The Ice Cream Banana tree is slender and elongated, reaching 10-20 feet high based on its growing conditions.12

It also has massive lime-green leaves measuring up to 2 feet across and 9 feet long and features red blossoms.

One of the fastest ways to identify the Blue Java is by its bluish fruits, explaining its name.

Banana plant identification showing banana plant leaves, banana plant fruits, and banana plant flower in circle frames.

The bananas later turn bright yellow when ripe and have a creamy consistency and a vanilla-like flavor, hence the common name Ice Cream Banana.

Ice Cream Banana Tree Growing Conditions

The Blue Java Banana is an excellent tree to plant in your home and will thrive if you provide the perfect growing conditions. The following are Blue Java Banana care tips and needs:


While the plant can live under partial sunlight, it will flourish when the rays fall directly on it, and the temperatures range around 65 degrees (F) or more.

It needs more than 8 hours under the sun for the best results, especially when the leaves are developing, and cooler temps for the evening.


Like any fruit tree, the Blue Java Banana loves fertile, well-draining soils that are slightly acidic with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5. Drainage is vital because the tree is susceptible to root rot that develops when the soil is excessively wet for a long time.

Loam or sand soil works best, not clay which is more water retentive and not salty soil in coastal regions.


Occasionally supplementing the soil’s nutrients with fertilizer rich in potassium promotes fruit growth and resists drying.

Phosphorus also helps in initial growth. The ideal ratio should be 3:1:6 for percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium but remember not to fertilize in winter when the banana tree is dormant.5


Watering is easier when the soil drains well because the roots and the ground will not stay wet. This way, you can water once a day or whenever the soil dries out.

Trees in tropical regions are more water thirsty and will need daily watering, especially in the sweltering summers.


The Ice Cream Bananas are a people’s favorite because they are easy to maintain when it comes to pruning. You only have to remove the weakest fronds six months into growth, especially the yellow or withered ones, to ensure that the plant focuses its energy on the healthy parts.

Hardiness Zones

The banana grows in warm climates in zones 8-11, perfect as an outdoor fruit tree. However, you can grow dwarf varieties in containers if you live in zones 4-11 and have the space.

Native Region and Habitat Growing Needs

The Musa acuminata is native to the southern parts of Asia.7 It was first domesticated around 8000 BCE, making it one of the oldest plants that man cultivated.

Most edible bananas come from that species, but some are hybrids from Musa balbisiana. It naturally grows in warm, tropical climates with full sunlight and fertile, slightly acidic, well-draining soils.

Photo of a field of banana trees right below a mountain.

(Image: Monika Guzikowska13)

It also needs frequent watering but not excessive because it is vulnerable to root rot. Its preferred hardiness zone is 8-11, with favorable temperatures and humidity levels.

How To Grow Ice Cream Banana Tree

You may want to know how to grow a banana tree if you love planting fruit trees in your backyard. Ice Cream Banana trees grow in containers on your patio or indoors near a window with lots of sunlight access.

If you are to plant it outdoors, you need to dig a wide hole that will accommodate the rhizome and the massive roots that will develop throughout the growing stages. Place the rhizome upright an inch or two under the soil and cover the hole, pressing to avoid forming air pockets.

Lastly, water the tree to keep the soil moist and mulch to prevent moisture loss and the growth of weeds.

A pseudo-stem will later sprout and give way to the actual stem in 10-15 months. Flowers will bloom from the branch, and bananas will grow afterward.

The fruits usually ripen less than 150 days after they appear, and you can enjoy your creamy bananas. The tree typically lives for around six years, but each stem stays alive as long as it has fruits.

After harvesting, the branch dies, and a new one emerges to produce the next round of bananas.

Harvesting and Storing the Blue Java Banana Tree

The Blue Java Banana tree is easy to care for, and the results are rewarding, whether you need it for subsistence or commercial use. The best time to harvest is when the bluish hue disappears from the coats, and the fruits have a mild yellow look.2

The top branches typically ripen before the rest, and you can pick the entire bunch when the color changes. With an extra hand to help, you can effortlessly chop the heavy bunch but be careful not to cut the banana skins.

The bananas growing at the top ripen faster and are the first to consume, while the rest slowly change color. Since bananas can all ripen at once, it is best to store and keep them fresh for longer.11

The Ice Cream Bananas are the gooey kind, making them trickier to handle. Many would rather mash them into pastes or skin them and store them in the freezer until they are ready for use.

You can scoop and eat them as a tasty treat or snack.

History of the Blue Java Banana Tree

The Blue Java or Ice Cream Banana is a cross between two southeastern Asia bananas (Musa acuminate and balbisiana species).4 People first saw the trees in Indonesia, although they grow naturally in Hawaii and Fiji, hence the common name Hawaiian Bananas.

According to records, they are some of the earliest domesticated plants but stand out from other banana varieties. They are initially from tropical climates, making them some of the hardiest species, surviving strong winds and temperature fluctuations.

What To Know About Eating the Blue Java Banana

The Ice Cream Banana is a fascinating fruit tree, and here is what you should know if you have never tasted one.

What Do They Taste Like?

There may be various accounts about what the banana tastes like, but the common ground is that the creamy fruit has a mild vanilla flavor.

It also has a gooey feel, unlike common bananas, with a custard/ ice cream consistency.

What Do They Pair Well With?

You can eat the fruits whole as desserts or with other fruits and drinks.

Many enjoy them with chocolates, berries, coffee, or other tasty fruit.

How Can I Use Them in Cooking?

Besides eating them whole for their creamy, tasty goodness, the fruits are key ingredients for various recipes that call for bananas. You can use them when baking banana bread or add them to adult drinks.

Are They Good for Snacking?

The top reason for growing bananas is their soft juicy fruitiness, making them an excellent snack eaten whole or combined with other fruits or in various recipes.

Will My Kids Like Them?

Kids like ice cream and bananas and would love a combination of both. The fruits are a favorite for kids thanks to their smooth feel and rich flavor.

You can dip them in chocolate, chop alongside other fruits or mash them and serve.

You can also use them to flavor homemade ice cream.

What Are the Health Benefits of the Blue Java Banana?

All bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals vital for the body.6 The Ice Cream Bananas contain Vitamin C, which helps improve the body’s immunity and keeps the nails and skin healthy.

The antioxidants present also protect the cells and keep you healthy. Additionally, they contain fiber, an essential part of your diet that promotes food digestion and makes you feel full for a long time.

What To Know About Growing Blue Java Bananas at Home

The Hawaiian Banana will thrive if you live in hardiness zones 8-11. It is an excellent fruit tree to plant in your home since it is hardy, easy to care for, and has high rewards, especially when planted as part of a large plantation for commercial use.

Related Reading: 12 Types of Palm Trees in Hawaii (Pictures): Identification Guide (Chart)

The trees love the full sun and need at least 8 hours daily; however, they will survive with fewer hours or partial sun, but the leaves and fruits will not grow abundantly. Another important thing to remember is that bananas are water hungry, considering they are initially from tropical regions.

They need daily watering, especially in scorching summers but be careful not to flood them, or you will expose them to root rot. You can also check that the soil drains well to avoid water standing at the bottom which can kill the plant.

You should start enjoying the fruits in a few years with proper care and maintenance. Lastly, ensure that you properly space the trees when planting because they can grow up to 15 feet high.

Why Ice Cream Banana Trees?

Apart from providing a steady supply of tasty fruits all year round, growing multiple Ice Cream Bananas is simple yet fulfilling. They are hardy, unlike other fruit trees, surviving strong winds, low temperatures, and other elements.3

Another impressive feature is that it grows fast, producing fruits that many have grown to love, leading to high returns on your investment. The bananas show in the first seasons; you can plant them outdoors or indoors.

Ice Cream Banana Tree Pollination, How Does It Work?

Banana trees self-pollinate, which is a reprieve if you are planning to grow a single one in your home. You will still get fruits at the end of the season when you have only one and don’t need others growing nearby for fruiting to take place.

Photo of many banana trees.

(Image: Vije Vijendranath14)

However, having more trees growing closely together ensures a bumper harvest. Another advantage is that tropical fruits thrive when the conditions are warm and humid, meaning having more trees will trap heat and create a more humid environment.

How Much Carbon Does a Tree Capture?

Planting any tree, including bananas, helps the environment heal from the high amounts of carbon in the air. Trees filter the air, making them invaluable in carbon sequestration and climate justice.8

If you are keen on the role of trees in the ecosystem, you may ask how much carbon does a tree capture? An acre can sequester approximately 2-5 tons of CO2 annually, but the rate can fluctuate based on the trees’ sizes, ages, species, location, and other factors.

How Much CO2 Does a Tree Absorb?

Trees can absorb CO2 through the leaves during photosynthesis and release oxygen as a byproduct, sustaining all human and animal life. The pressing question, however, is how much CO2 does a tree absorb?

A rough estimate is that a standard tree absorbs 25 kg of carbon annually, based on the calculation that a cubic meter of the tree absorbs about a ton. Evergreen, hardwood trees that live long are perfect carbon sequesters, given their high storage capacity.

How To Grow Blue Java Banana Tree

You can grow the Blue Java Banana tree outdoors or indoors, but it will thrive more under full sunlight in fertile soil and next to other bananas. You bury the rhizome upright one or two inches into the ground and cover it with soil.

Photo of a field with young banana trees.

(Image: Tara Slaven & Valeri Shrubb15)

The next step is to water the soil and mulch to maintain moisture and discourage weed growth.

Under suitable conditions, the fruits should ripen in less than 150 days, and your tree should remain standing for around six years.

Common Pests of the Ice Cream Banana Tree

The spider mite and banana aphid are the most common insects to watch out for when growing the Blue Java Banana tree.10 They pierce the leaves, sucking the sap and spreading diseases.

Photo of banana aphids on a banana leaf.

(Image: National Research Centre for Banana16)

Luckily, you can eliminate them using neem oil or pyrethrin, depending on the severity of the infestation.

You can also look out for mealy bugs, thrips, coquito, black weevils, and root-knot nematodes. The rust thrips and weevils are some of the most damaging insects that attack the leaves and the fruit skins, but you can use pyrethrin to counter their spread.

Diseases That Attack the Blue Java Banana Tree

The most dreadful banana tree disease is the fusarium oxysporum, which causes bananas to wilt and has deadly consequences. The leaves turn yellow and hang, and the plant eventually dies.

The worst part is the disease spreads fast through air and water, and there is no known cure.

Photo of banana trees affected by disease.

(Image: Ziko Liu17

Contracting the disease means removing the entire plant and avoiding planting in the same spot; otherwise, it could wipe out a whole plantation. In contrast, the leaf spot diseases that show on the fronds are treatable with fungicide.

Aphids are also infamous for causing the leaves to curl, grow narrow, or stiffen, and although this doesn’t have a cure, the best way to prevent it is by keeping aphids off the plant. Another common disease is the banana strain of the mosaic virus, which causes marks on the leaves.

If you are looking for a tasty banana that stands out from other species, the Ice Cream or Blue Java suits you. You can plant it in your farm, backyard, or indoor container and be sure of gooey, delicious fruits that taste like vanilla ice cream.

The tree is easy to care for and will produce healthy bananas for you and your family. You can eat it whole as a snack, supplement it with other fruits, or incorporate it in your pastries and recipes.

Besides the unique look and taste, farmers love how fast the trees grow and how resilient they are against harsh conditions. The Blue Java Banana tree (aka ice cream banana) is your go-to addition to your fruit garden and guarantees delectable, creamy goodness all year round.

Frequently Asked Questions About Blue Java Banana Tree

How Long Does It Take for a Tree To Grow?

Trees can start producing seed at 10-20 years, but the total time for growth varies based on several factors. It depends on the tree species, its location, growing conditions, and whether it started as a seed or a seedling.

How Long Does It Take To Grow a Blue Java Banana Tree?

The Ice Cream Banana tree develops from the stem and starts blooming in 15-24 months. The flowers appear and transform into fruits that should be ready for harvesting in the next 150 days based on the growing conditions.

When Do I Water My Ice Cream Banana Tree?

The Blue Java Banana tree requires a lot of water since it is originally a tropical fruit. If growing in well-draining soil, you may have to water it daily to keep the soil wet, especially when the temperatures are too high.

Can You Grow Blue Java Bananas in UK?

The bananas love tropical forests’ warm and humid conditions and will only thrive in the UK if you have them in special greenhouses and provide all their needs. Otherwise, they will not be as fruitful in a cool environment.

Are Blue Java Bananas Real?

Blue java or Ice Cream Bananas are real but not bright blue, as internet searches will show. The real fruits are bluish-green when ‘green’ and turn yellow when ripe.

Do Banana's Come from Trees?

Technically, the banana plant is an herb, but because it can grow so large and resembles a tree with a leafy crown, it is often called a tree.


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