PHOENIX — Are you trying to become one of the lucky few to bring a blue java banana tree home?
First things first: Yes, blue bananas are real. Yes, they actually do taste like vanilla ice cream. Now that we have that squared away...
People from all over the world are traveling to Arizona to get their hands on a blue banana tree! The growing popularity of this tree has made it an even more rare find -- both here in Arizona and all over the world!
If you are looking to get your hands on a blue banana tree before they are all sold out for the season, you will only find them at Tropica Mango Rare and Exotic Tropical Fruit Tree Nursery in Apache Junction. They are starting with another new 500 trees on the lot (400 larger sized trees, 100 pups) and we are told they will go quickly.
Our previous stories on this Wonka fruit have caused quite a frenzy. Alex Peña, the owner of Tropica Mango, shares just how challenging it is for nurseries around the globe to obtain blue java banana trees.
"Right now it's really difficult for nurseries to get any supply of blue banana trees. Here at Tropica Mango, we are trying to grow them as quickly as we can! Suppliers are overwhelmed trying to keep up with the demand and are feeling the pressure from blue java banana fanatics all over the world. We have carried it for decades and have never seen anything like this. We are getting requests from all over the world! Australia, Africa, Europe, China, Russia, all over the United States, you name it. It has taken off," said Peña.
See what these blue bananas look like in the video above!
The blue java banana is a banana species from Central America that has the unique flavor of ice cream and blue-tinted skin. This is not something you are going to find at any grocery store!
Peña explains that temperatures here in Arizona are actually very conducive to growing tropical plants. The weather does not get too cold -- which is the biggest danger. The extreme heat can be combated by just watering and micro-climate. Instead of planting the blue java bananas among rock and desert landscape, you create a micro-climate with other plants and ground cover.
Tropica Mango sells two sizes of these bananas trees. Their baby pups become plantable-size starting in February. They also sell divisions of mature plants that have been growing at the nursery. They dig those up and pot them as larger plants that are ready to go straight into the ground. End of April to the middle of May is the perfect time to plant the trees.
Peña claims the planting is fairly simple. You want to pick the sunniest location during the winter in your yard and do not worry about how hot it will get during the summer. For most people, it will be the south or east exposure in their yard. Dig a hole twice as wide as the pot it came in, add a bag of mulch/potting soil with the native soil, mix it together, put the plant in the ground, and water as needed depending on the time of year. During the summer, you will want to every day or every other day. Winter time, once or twice a month. Maybe three times if it doesn't rain. It is key to add mulch or potting soil to our native soil because it is devoid of organic matter since there is not a lot of decay.
Directions for buying the baby pups:
Baby them through the winter and plant in February. You keep the pups like you would with a potted house plant. Outside on the patio is fine. It will prefer the outdoor temperatures opposed to indoor temperatures. The second step is making sure the soil does not dry out -- evenly moist and water it every once in awhile. Bring it inside into a warmer room like the kitchen or bathroom when there is a night with frost or freeze. Once the freeze is over, bring it back outside. Come February, plant it straight into the ground.
The height of the mature blue java banana plant is approximately 10-15 feet. Alex assures that even if you do not know what you are doing, your plant will reach at least 10 feet tall!
If you start with a pup, you will start to see fruit after 18-months. If you start with a division, it will yield fruit for the first time between 9-12 months after planting.
After that, it will fruit year-round since it is basically a giant herb -- although winter sometimes interferes. The average head of fruit produces 88 bananas! Some people get more when they do a lot of extra watering or fertilizing. One banana plant will become two in a few months and then four so you should have somewhere between 6-8 plants every season. With 6-8 plants every season -- each yielding 88 bananas -- well, you do the math. That is a ton of bananas every year! All are capable of fruiting that first year. Every time it fruits in the years following, each will potentially produce around 90 bananas and will all ripen up in a couple of months -- so you better be ready to make banana splits!
IF YOU GO:
Tropica Mango Rare and Exotic Tropical Fruit Nursery
10520 E Apache Trail
Apache Junction, AZ 85120
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9AM - 12PM