Updated: Jan 7, 2022
Musa acuminata ‘Dwarf Cavendish’
The Dwarf Cavendish Banana is an evergreen suckering perennial cultivar that grows to about 2m tall. It originated in the Canary Islands, loves a humid, warm climate and is popularly cultivated as patio and conservatory plants.
The Dwarf Banana is a monocot species but is cultivated as bonsai because it suckers easily and readily replaces older plants. I have not seen one fruit as a bonsai, and they are challenging plants to grow as bonsai. However, they make lovely upright clump style as bonsai. Dwarf Banana Bonsai thrive in temperatures between 18-27°C and high humidity levels.
Position: This fast-growing species grows best in a full sun position, where they grow lush green with large, dazzling leaves. They hate the cold and will turn into a horrible mush if it is allowed to freeze. Best kept at temperatures above 10°C (50°F) in a bright, heated conservatory. Musa needs high levels of humidity, or leaves will rip and damage.
Watering: A very thirsty plant needs a copious amount of water, but only water when the soil surface begins to dry. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Cool temperatures and over-watering can easily lead to root rot, so moderate watering during the winter months. Use a humidity tray to supplement moisture during summer periods.
Feeding: Fast-growing species needs healthy amounts of feed. Apply a balanced organic fertiliser. Advisable to use a granular slow-release organic fertiliser from spring and mid-summer, along with a weekly foliar fertiliser spray supplement. For the rest of the year, use just the slow-release fertiliser.
Re-potting: Musa, like a humus rich well-draining soil and plants, bonsai need to be re-potted every couple of years. Older trunks will die away, but pups replace them. Do not allow too many pups in a pot. Prune as much as a third of the root ball but do not bare root the Musa. Use a mix of loam, well-mulched bark and sharp sand in equal parts by volume. Alternatively, you can use Akadama and Pumice and well-mulched bark in equal parts too.
Pruning: No pruning is required. Remove all dead leaves. Musa leaves damage quickly, and mint leaves are rare, but you can control the damage by maintaining high humidity levels and keeping plants well-watered.
Wiring: No wiring required.
Propagation: Multiplied effortlessly from suckers, called Pups, divided from the primary plants. Move pups larger than 30 cm. Suckers need to be grown with bottom heating and high humidity.