If you’re looking for tropical foliage you’ll love the banana plant. It can quickly transform any garden into a lush tropical adventure. Banana plants are cold hardy and will easily over winter to zone 4.
You’ll want plenty of space for your banana plant. They can quickly grow and will require enough space to grow to the full potential of 12 to 18 feet. They prefer full to partial sun and a well-drained soil that is moist at all times without drowning them.
Bananas grow from underground rhizomes and the fleshy stalk is formed via concentric layers of leaves that form a functional trunk. It can take 10 to 15 months for the stalk to push from the earth and emerge.
Planting And Location
Bananas prefer the sun and you’ll want to choose a location that gets plenty of sun during the bulk of the day. If there is too much shade the plant will stop growing.
Never allow the banana plant to be over watered, this can cause root rot. You’ll want moist soil without over watering it.
To plant your banana plant you’ll want a hole that is 1 ½ times as deep as the container that is holding your plant. Place about 2 to 4 inches of a good steer manure into the hole and cover the manure with soil so that the depth will accommodate the plant.
You want to make sure that the soil is well draining. If it’s too compact, your banana plant can’t grow. So ensure that you have some soil that has rocks, lava sand and such incorporated. A good cactus mix will also work.
Set your plant gently into the hold with approximately 2 inches of it above the level of the soil. This allows for it to set properly. Cut the planter or container away and refill the hole with a 2/3 soil mix and 1/3 native soil mix. Water well. Build a gentle berm around your plant with any remaining soil.
Watering Your Banana Plantains
Banana plants require regular watering in order to sustain their large tropical leaves. This also helps them to produce delicious fruit. Water slowly and deeply about ever 2 to 3 days during the summer months.
If the top half inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water. Bananas are susceptible to root rot so be sure that you’re not over watering. You’ll want to water deep but don’t allow the plant to have a huge pool of water surrounding it.
Fertilizing Your Banana Plantains
The banana plant is a heavy feeder and will greatly benefit from a regular feeding throughout the growing season. It requires a small amount of a well-balanced fertilizer that contains all of the micronutrients each time it’s watered.
You can also give it a full dose of a good fertilizer on a monthly basis to ensure that the fruit is abundant. There are a lot of great fertilizers that are made of bat guano and fish emulsion as well as liquid seaweed that all work very well for the banana plant.
Care Of The Banana Plants
The banana plant should survive a desert frost that occasionally freezes without any permanent damage. The leaves may burn at the first frost and look dead but they should still be fine.
Jest leave them on the plant and this will help to protect the plant from serious damage. You may lose any fruit that was hanging on the plant, though. Give it a bit of cover and if it’s below 50 cover your plant to ensure it stays warmer.
If a stalk does appear to die, just cut it back and don’t dig it up. You may still be able to revive the plant when the weather warms up. Just leave it be and you may be rewarded with a fresh new plant.
The banana plant can withstand wind and will rarely topple over. During summer monsoons in the tropics, most banana plants still retain their fruit. You may, however, need to support the fruit during heavier winds with a sturdy pole or two.
In spite of its love for warmth, the banana plant will sunburn. You may wish to drape your plant with a shade protector cloth or some light weight material in the heat of the day.
Benefits Of Banana Plants
The banana plant is an ideal windbreak or windscreen.
It can help to keep the sun off of the west side of your home.
If you have an outdoor shower or gray water from your home, the banana plant can utilize this to full advantage.
The banana leaves are ideal for feeding to cows, horses and other animals that graze.
You can weave baskets and mats out of the dried trunks of the banana plant.
You’ll also get a lot of bananas to eat.
Banana Plant Varieties
There are three main types of banana plants that you will encounter. There are other varieties but those are much rarer.
This is the variety that you see in the shops. They produce heavy yields of fruit in very large bunches.
These are tall and slender with a fruit that has a sweeter flavor.
These are the bananas that you cook. They are drier and starchy. They are eaten when green and taste similar to a potato. In many countries, these are the main staple in their diet.
Photo by Rameshng