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PLANET ARIZONA: Blue bananas exist and they taste like vanilla ice cream

Posted at 2:40 PM, Nov 21, 2019

PHOENIX — This is not a Dr. Seuss fruit. This is a blue java banana tree. Yes, blue bananas DO EXIST and the best part is they taste like VANILLA ICE CREAM!

Again, blue bananas. Check. Bananas that taste like vanilla. Double check. Blue bananas with the consistency of ice cream. Triple check.

Lucky for you, these plants are available for purchase at Tropica Mango Rare and Exotic Tropical Fruit Nursery in Apache Junction.

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!

Alex Peña, the owner of Tropica Mango Rare and Exotic Tropical Fruit Nursery, 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 are not plantable-size yet, but they will be 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.

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 10-14 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!


Tropica Mango Rare and Exotic Tropical Fruit Nursery
10520 E Apache Trail
Apache Junction, AZ 85120

Hours: Thursday - Sunday, 9AM - 12PM