You must have already seen the banana tree. It is a tropical plant belonging to the genus Musa.
The main highlight is its fruit which can be yellow or red. While the tree is most apt outdoors, you can easily liven up a room with its bright and big leaves.
However, banana trees typically require a lot of space and care to grow. As a result, most people prefer to choose easier-to-maintain substitutes to grow as indoor plants.
In this article, we will talk about 15 similar plants you can grow instead of banana trees.
Indoor And Outdoor Plants That Look Like Banana Trees
1. Traveler’s Tree
The Traveler’s Tree (Ravenala madagascariensis) appears similar to a banana tree due to its leaves which are about 6-12 ft long.
The leaves typically grow into a fan shape from a single trunk. A foliar fan can have up to 30 leaves in more mature specimens. The tree can grow up to 30 to 50 feet.
Traveler’s tree gets its name from the distinct characteristics of its leaves. Rainwater often gets stored at the base of the leaves, which travelers use to quench their thirst.
It thrives best in sunlight, but can be grown in pots under partial shade for a period.
2. Metallica Palm Tree
The Metallica Palm Tree (Chamaedorea Metallica) is also called the miniature fishtail palm due to its fishtail-like leaves.
The tree grows slowly and has blue-green foliage. It resembles a banana tree and thrives in loamy, well-drained, and humus-rich soil.
A native of Mexico, it makes for a great indoor plant. However, you must constantly tend to it.
3. Giant Bird of Paradise
The Giant Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) has a tropical appearance and is native to South Africa.
It is versatile and grown as an indoor or outdoor plant worldwide.
The naming can be attributed to the numerous black and white petals emerging from a single bud— giving it a bird-like appearance. The plant has banana-like leaves that grow up to 2-5 feet long.
4. Abyssinian Banana
The Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum) belongs to the family Musaceae and is a herbaceous flowering plant. It has other names, such as Ethiopian banana, Ensete, or Enset.
The plant is also called black banana because of its striking resemblance to the tree. However, a significant difference is the red-maroon shade in the foliage.
Another common name associated with it is wild or false banana. This is because, despite resembling a banana tree, it doesn’t bear any fruit.
The plant loves sunlight and dwells in humid areas. In Ethiopia, it is consumed as a popular food.
However, the plant is prone to a common pest called Cataenococcus enset (a mealybug species). The bugs feed on the plant’s roots and cause complications.
Sterling is also known by its botanical name, Dieffenbachia ‘Sterling,’ and has green leaves with cream/white veins.
Although the plant looks like a banana plant, it is slow-growing and reaches not more than 14-20 inches. The plant doesn’t require much care, but owners should be wary of pests such as aphids and mites.
6. Banana Leaf Dieffenbachia
The plant’s botanical name Dieffenbachia’ Big Ben’, is derived from its big foliage. It is a variety of Dieffenbachia, a genus of tropical perennials with several species grown as houseplants.
It is also called Dieffenbachia banana because of its strong resemblance to the banana tree. They make excellent houseplants because they are easy to care for and have elaborate leaves with beautiful details.
Plant lovers should be extra careful while handling Dieffenbachia plants since they can be toxic to people and pets.
7. Cigar Plant
The cigar plant (Calathea lutea) is also known as Cuphea ignea, Mexican cigar, cigar flower, or firecracker plant. It is suited to both indoor and outdoor environments.
The plant is native to Mexico and gets its name from its reddish-orange flo1wers, which are shaped like cigars. It is somewhat similar to a banana plant, especially the leaves.
Cigar plants prefer light watering and like well-draining soils. You should keep them in a well-lit area receiving lots of indirect sunlight. However, they shouldn’t be kept under direct sunlight.
8. Ruffled Fan Palm
The ruffled fan palm (Licuala grandis) is a rare type of palm. It’s similar to the banana plant with its fan-like leaves, which are large, pleated, and bright. It is also called Palas palm or Vanuatu fan palm.
Ruffled Palm is native to the Pacific island nation Vanuatu. The plant is slow-growing and elegant— making it suitable indoors.
9. Indian Shot
The Indian Shot (Canna Indicais) is an evergreen perennial native to South and Central America. They have paddle-like violet-green leaves, which can get quite big.
They are a great addition to your garden because of their tropical feel. However, pests like snails, spider mites, and caterpillars can cause harm.
Apart from their leaves, they are loved for the flowers they produce during the blooming season, lasting from May to October. These flowers are bright and beautiful.
10. Bird Of Paradise
The bird of paradise (Strelitzia) is similar to the giant bird of paradise. It is yet another plant that resembles the banana tree based on its leaves.
The bird of paradise gets its name due to the flower, which produces three vivid blue and orange petals from a single bud. It makes the flower look like the bird of paradise (a tropical bird) in flight.
In its native country South Africa, it is known as the Crane Flower.
11. False Bird Of Paradise
The false bird of paradise plant is native to the tropical regions of South and Central America, specifically Mato Grosso, Amazônia, Acre (Brazil), and RondôNia, where they are a threatened species. However, they are also found in Thailand, Gambia, and Florida.
They belong to the Heliconiaceae family and go by the botanical name Heliconia rostrata. They can grow significantly and reach up to 15 ft. However, this is not a typical scenario.
They have leaves similar to that of bananas connected to the stem via long leaf stalks. The leaves grow up to 6-10 ft long
The plant is also referred to as lobster-claw or wild plantain.
12. Jasminum Auriculatum
The Philodendron auriculatum (botanical name) is an indoor plant resembling a banana tree. It belongs to the Oleaceae family and is native to Asian countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, and the Andaman Islands.
This evergreen plant with large banana-like leaves has perennial white flowers, making it a great addition to your home or garden.
13. Elephant Ear Philodendron
Elephant Ear Philodendron is a tropical large-leafed plant native to South America. The plant gets its name from its large green leaves, which closely resemble an elephant’s ear and is heart-shaped. The leaves can grow up to 3-4 ft tall.
Elephant ears is evergreen and maintains its green foliage throughout the year. It is pretty adaptable indoors and can survive in low lighting.
14. Dwarf Banana Tree
The dwarf banana tree is a tropical plant with its nativity in East Asia. It is characterized by its low stature and leaves with purple or red spots (only present in young leaves that fade as they grow).
The plant is hardy, wind-resistant, and easy to grow outdoors and indoors. For best results, keep the plant in a well-lit area and ensure the potting soil is well-draining.
15. Common Garden Canna
The common Garden canna includes a variety of hybrids derived from the Canna indica, Canna glauca, and Canna iridiflora.
Their foliage has a tropical appearance that resembles a banana tree. They can be found in the tropical and subtropical regions of India as well as North and South America. The plants typically grow up to 6 ft.
They produce large bright flowers and thrive in moist, well-drained soils and bright indirect sunlight.
This article must be concluded with a fun fact— the banana tree is not technically a tree but a plant. Howsoever large they may appear, they lack a woody stem synonymous with trees.
They have a trunk consisting of stacked-up layers of leaves and stems. Many other plants mirror the appearance of banana trees, with most not producing the banana fruit.
You can opt for these plants if your local conditions aren’t conducive to growing them or if you lack the vast space required.
I have found gardening to be my calling since being restricted to my apartment. I love studying rare species of plants and giving them a mention on my blog. I also love growing organic vegetables in my backyard.