Banana tree plant indoor

Musa (Banana Dwarf Cavendish)

Banana Plant Care Guide

Light

The Common Banana must have good light, but will actually accept a range of light conditions from part shade to full sun. Young plants and new leaves may scorch in full Summer sun especially if your watering routine is stingy.

Watering

A well established Banana plant will need copious watering during the warmest months of the year and a good deal more than most house plants during Spring and Autumn / Fall. This is down to its large leaf surface area which allows a lot of transpiration to take place – a good thing in the dry atmosphere of a centrally heated home.

Water when the top 4cm / 2 inches of compost is dry. In a very bright, warm spot you could be doing this as much as every other day in Summer. Significantly cut back in Winter though otherwise you will be inviting rot to take over.

An established plant will need copious watering during the warmest months

Humidity

The leaves might look tough but are actually very delicate and will rip easily if certain conditions are poor. Low humidity is often a contributing factor to leaf damage so moisture retentive pellets in the drip tray would be helpful, along with a regular misting.

Feeding

This plant has large leaves which form very rapidly during the growing season, so much so a brand new leaf every 10 days isn’t uncommon, therefore feeding on a frequent basis is a must to fuel that level of growth.

Feed well every 2 or 3 weeks using either a general liquid garden fertiliser such as Miracle Grow or if you make your own, that should be fine to use also. You can of course use a feed designed for house plants too. Do not fertilise when the plant isn’t growing or if you don’t want to support any new growth, for example if it’s already overgrown and further height is undesired.

Temperature

There isn’t really a upper temperature limit found in the home that is damaging. Although heat pockets, or sun traps such as in between windows and curtains should be avoided as they often heat up too rapidly for the plant to adapt.

When it comes to the lowest acceptable temperature this will depend on the variety you are growing. Some Banana’s will survive down to freezing, but in our experience of growing the Dwarf Cavendish, it will start to take damage if you put in in an area lower than 10°C (50°F).

One year our entire plant above the soil was lost, luckily the rhizome lived on and regrew the following Spring, still, it wasn’t ideal as it had to regrow everything it had lost!

Repotting

Young plants, also known as “pups”, will fill small pots quickly so you need to repot them into bigger ones quite frequently, this may be as much as two or three times in the first year. Normal potting compost at this stage is all you need.

Young plants are known as “pups”

As they get older you can reduce the repotting to once a year. As Banana’s are gross feeders it makes sense to enrich the new soil too, so you’re welcome to use home made compost or even mix in some horse manure like you would for many garden plants.

However if you use home made compost or animal manure it must be well rotted. You will risk serious damage to the roots and rhizome if you don’t use fully decomposed material. Finished compost is dark brown or black with a crumbly-textured that has a rich earthy smell, if you aren’t sure, play it safe and stick to normal potting soil.

Propagation

The Dwarf Cavendish has a suckering tendency, so young “pups” will be produced as the parent ages. They can be carefully cut away from the main plant, trying to keep some of the roots attached, and then potted up immediately. More details can be found on our offsets section in the propagation article.

Speed of Growth

When treated well, Banana plants are very fast growers – as much as one huge new leaf every week or so during the growing seasons. If you give it a fair bit of space then it really doesn’t take a great deal of time before you’ll have a huge and full looking plant.

Height / Spread

The variety you have and the growing environment you provide will determine the eventual height. Keeping the plant in a container that is too small, not feeding or generally being “cruel” will mean the maximum height will never be achieved (which might be your intention if space is sparse). Realistically an indoor Banana won’t ever exceed 3m / 10ft in height, in fact, half this size would still be considered generous.

Flowers

There are flowers and as you might expect they precede the rare banana fruit. Quite beautiful and unusual in appearance, but at the end of the day they’re uncommon indoors. This is because the plants needs good light and a warm home for a long continuous period, unless you’re based in a country near the equator you will get four distinctive seasons every year, one of which is always cold and this can scupper the long continuous period of heat (unless you can provide artificial heat of course).

If growing your own bananas is your aim, outside of a warm zone you must provide artificial heat and lighting in Winter. Should you be fortunate enough to “grow your own” the fruits will need around 3 months to ripen, so leave them on the plant until then.

Are Banana Plants Poisonous?

The banana plant has a lot of great qualities and one of them is that it’s non-toxic to common pets such as cats and dogs and does not harm people if eaten. However the leaves are easily ripped and damaged so try to discourage playful pets or children from interacting with them.

Anything else?

The leaves are delicate so if you wash them be careful and avoid leafshine products. All bananas will enjoy being outside in the warmest months of the year, so if you can Summer them outdoors in a sheltered corner from harsh winds they will thank you for it.

Banana Plant Problems

No Growth

Pot bound, unfertilised and low temperatures will slow or completely stop growth. These plants need root space, food and warmth to grow.

Rotting

Overwatering is actually quite difficult to achieve, but if you are watering too much and the temperature is cold you will increase the probability of rot drastically. Unprotected plants will also succumb in near frost like conditions, unheated greenhouses or conservatories will be a gamble if you have a harsh cold Winter.

Leaves have yellow or brown edges / tips

It’s almost like the Banana plant expects its leaves to be damaged, so it spends its days churning out new ones so quickly the plant doesn’t spend any time making them tougher. It’s normal for leaves to become blemished and ripped from general knocking or even low humidity levels.

Immaculate leaves are rare, however you can reduce the blemishes by keeping the plant in a protected spot away from children, pets and strong draughts. Keep the humidity high and water well.

Plant has purple blotches on the leaves

This is the tell tale sign you have a true Dwarf Cavendish. Young plants will have these blotches although as they mature they will disappear.

No banana fruits

Getting them is a challenge, have a read of the “flower” section to find out more.

Fluid on the leaves

Guttation is the most likely reason – after the plant has been watered well, in the morning you may find water droplets have collected at the leaf tips. Perfectly normal and harmless, the drops will either drip on to the floor or evaporate during the day.

A more sinister cause might be down to pests, in particular those which secrete honeydew such as aphids. Guttation results in simple water droplets, honeydew is sticky so you can tell the difference easily by touching the fluid.

Red Spider Mite

Keeping the humidity high will deter Red Spider Mite however if they strike they can be treated with an insecticide.

About the Author

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.

Also on Ourhouseplants.com

Credit for Banana Plant against a white wall – Article / Gallery – Iacopo Lorenzini
Credit for Banana Flowers – Article / Article – Pradeep717

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Grow Guide for Ornamental Banana Trees

Even if you live where Jack Frost comes to visit, you can still enjoy the summertime ambiance of a lush tropical plant with huge leaves and exotic flowers that comes from southeast Asia. Consider planting an ornamental banana plant. Bananas are not trees, but rather large herbaceous perennials (the largest of all, in fact). Bananas are monocots, more closely related to gingers and heliconias than to fruit trees or sunflowers.

This guide will help you learn how to grow banana trees and care for them to keep them thriving.

Gorgeous pink ornamental banana flower stalk in bloom

Perfect Plants offers three varieties of high quality ornamental banana tree plants. These types of banana trees do not produce edible fruit, but they do produce beautiful foliage and flowers, they survive freezing temperatures, and they make a bold, tropical statement in any landscape large enough to accommodate them.

  • Basjoo (Musa ‘Basjoo’) is a full sized banana leaf plant, 12-15 feet tall, that is hardy all the way to United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness Zone 4, surviving winter temperatures below 0°F, as long as the root mass is well mulched. This is best choice for a cold hardy banana tree. Temperatures below that may kill the plant.
  • Another full sized musa banana species is the Bordelon (Musa ‘Bordelon’), which also gets 12-15 ft tall but is hardy only to USDA zone 8. Both produce green leaves and striking banana tree flowers.
  • Golden Lotus (Musella lasiocarpa) gets just 5-6 feet tall. It is hardy to zone 7, where the plant dies to the ground in winter, and comes back the following spring. Golden Lotus begins flowering in mid-spring, and often continues to bloom until frost. This is a good variety for growing banana plants in a container on the patio.

Golden Lotus Banana Tree Musa Bordelon Banana Cold Hardy Basjoo Banana Tree Looking up into a banana plantation

Do Bananas Grow on Trees?

Bananas, including the ornamental kinds without edible bananas, are very fast growing. They send up suckers from underground roots near the mother plant, creating little jungles of tropical foliage. This enhances their visual appeal and provide strength-in-numbers protection for the plants.

The banana grove helps to maintain humidity and moisture in the air around the individual plants, as well as protecting them from cold temperature extremes and damaging winds. (The central, largest fruiting stalk dies after blooming, so never remove all of the suckers.)

Banana Tree Care

Bananas do best in a slightly acidic soil with a pH around 5.5 – 6.5. Choose a planting site large enough to accommodate a small grove of mature banana plants.

They prefer full sun to partial shade. You may need to provide supplemental irrigation during dry spells, so keep that in mind when selecting your banana’s location.

The broad, large leaves are easily torn in the strong wind, so a position protected from the strongest winds is advisable. Ornamental bananas will die back to the ground when it freezes, so select a position where they won’t be missed for several months of the year.

How to Plant a Banana Tree

Dig a large hole for your new banana plant and enrich the site with organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost with rich soil to get it off to a good, fast start. Mulch will help these plants grow to their fullest potential while retaining moisture that banana tree plants need. Amending the soil with a nutrient dense potting mix will help too.

Banana Tree Fertilizer and How Much Water

Banana trees should get 1-2 inches of water weekly and the well draining soil should stay evenly moist, never soggy nor completely dried out. Bananas are fast growing plants that need lots of nutrients for the plant and lots of water.

You should fertilize your ornamental banana 2 or 3 times a year during the growing season. Apply a complete, slow-release fertilizer such as one with an N-P-K ratio of 6-6-12 (plus micronutrients), as per label directions. Bananas need lots of K because they are susceptible to a potassium deficiency. The amount of fertilizer depends on the size of the plant and number of bananas so read the instructions carefully. Fertilizer will also help with leaf growth.

When the first freeze comes, cut the banana plant down to 8-12 inches above ground level, and mulch the root zone heavily. The following spring it will start growing again and pop through the mulch.

If you grow your ornamental banana in a container (a 15 gallon pot or larger is recommended) it will need more frequent watering and fertilizing than plants grown in the ground. During the growing season, when your potted banana is outside, you will need to water it every day.

When the temperatures drop in the winter you can move the plant indoors where it won’t need balanced fertilizer or very much water until it goes back outside again in the spring. Make sure you choose a pot with a drainage hole as these heavy feeders do not like wet feet. It can cause root rot.

Divide these perennial herb banana plants every 2 or 3 years or so to prevent overcrowding. Use a sharp spade to cut the suckers off the rhizome. You can replant the suckers or pups as new plants. It doesn’t matter if the banana leaves stay on during this transplant process. The true stem will flush out and emerge from the top of the plant. The banana plant will continue growing like normal. Once the banana plant flower develops the stem will die back to the ground where the rhizomes are.

Wondering when to plant banana trees? The best time to plant bananas is in early spring so they have the whole growing season to establish their root systems.

Check out our blog on pruning banana plants for more info on how to prune.

The Musa Bordelon banana produces flowers and fruit that is seeded and inedible and shouldn’t be eaten.

Is banana plant care easy enough? With little pest and disease issue, you can enjoy the luscious designs and tropical vibes of our 3 varieties of Ornamental Banana Plants! Once they start growing you won’t even know you aren’t in the tropics 🙂

Girl Talk

ALSO READ: Girl talk: Guys, work on your texting chemistry, it matters a lot to us

  • Our vaginas are one of the most important parts of our body. While they can give us a lot of pleasure, they can also cause us to experience a lot of pain.
  • This is especially so when they are not taken care of properly.

The vagina has the most sensitive and delicate skin in our body. As such, there are certain things that should never come into contact with our vaginas for the sake of our health. Below are 10 things that you should definitely keep away from your vagina.

  1. Pubic hair dye

While you may be feeling experimental and may want to change the colour of your pubic hair, the skin around your pubes is quite sensitive, even more sensitive than your scalp. In the case the dye comes in contact with your labia or the opening of your vagina, you will suffer from a burning sensation which will make having sex altogether unpleasant.

  1. Douches and intimate sprays

Your vaginal canal is self-cleaning which makes intimate sprays, douches and vaginal wipes quite unnecessary. These expensive products contain ingredients that will cause your vagina to dry out and get irritated. The chemicals may also cause tiny tears in your vagina through which bacteria and viruses can enter your body. Water and soap (optional) should be just enough to clean your lady parts.

  1. Fruits and vegetables

No, it is not safe to put a cucumber or banana inside your vagina. This is because no matter how hard you wash them, organic produce still carries some bacteria with it. They may be safe in your digestive tract but your vaginal canal is quite sensitive and bacteria of any sort will not only interrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina, it will also lead to bacterial or yeast infections.

  1. Scented products

Avoid any scented household item that may come into contact with your vagina. These include tampons, soaps, toilet paper, novelty condoms or body washes. Most contain additives that will cause rashes around your vagina, inflammation or itchiness.

  1. Rubber or soft plastic sex toys

After prolonged use, sex toys that are made of flexible plastic or jelly-like rubber tend to have small nicks and grooves. This is the area where the microbes hide and on use can give you an infection. Always pick stainless steel, silicone or hard plastic when buying these products as they do not break down or degrade.

  1. Hair removal cream

Hair removal creams contain ingredients that are quite harsh to the skin and will often leave you with small abrasions. This leaves your vaginal area open and prone to infection. These creams also cause itchiness and red bumps. Shaving and waxing are both much safer than these chemical depilatories.

ALSO READ: Why ladies take forever in the bathroom

  1. Vodka tampons

While it may sound unbelievable, there are women who insert their tampons in vodka before inserting them. The vodka is supposedly absorbed into the bloodstream thus giving you a buzz. Not only can this be extremely painful, it also damages the walls of your vagina.

  1. Oil based lubricants

Lube is one of those things that are safe for your vagina but you have to be careful with the variety you use. Stay away from any lube with petroleum jelly or oil as the main ingredient. They are thick and hard to wash out of the vagina, making them a breeding ground for bacteria. Oil can also break down the latex on your condom putting you at risk of STDs and pregnancy.

  1. Down-there body art

Not so long ago, ‘vajazzling’ was a top trend which involved sticking tiny crystals or rhinestones to your private parts using glue. This led to higher rates of infection and irritation among patients according to ob-gyns. Body art on your private parts can cause redness and irritation and pose even bigger health risks.

  1. Whipped and chocolate toppings

If you are feeling adventurous, you can turn your body into an ice cream sundae with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. However, make sure to stick to the part of the body above the belly button. Putting sugar on your vaginal area will not only mess with your pH balance, it will also lead to yeast infections.

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Your vagina is your friend most of the time, you know, except for when she lets Aunt Flo pass through and come to town.

You need to take care of it, and while it’s true there are some things that can go inside it (penises, sanitary products, properly cleaned sex toys and so on), there are many other things that you should never, ever, ever stick in your hoo-haa.

via tenor

Aside from the fact that you don’t want to end up in hospital with an embarrassing tale to tell, some of these things can cause you other health concerns.

1. Fruits and vegetables

via indiahealthlink.com

I have heard a story that might just be an urban legend, but a friend of mine who has worked in an emergency department swears is true: one time, a woman presented with an entire butternut pumpkin up her vajayjay and it was so firmly wedged, she needed surgery to remove it. And then a bit of reconstruction afterwards.

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Aside from the fact that I don’t understand why anyone would look at a butternut pumpkin and think, “Oh yeah, I want that in my vag,” sticking produce in there is bad for other reasons than getting stuck.

Items like carrots, cucumbers and bananas that you sometimes hear people have used for “fun” might contain insects, soil and bacteria if they haven’t been thoroughly washed. Just because it’s sort of penis-shaped doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to put it inside you.

2. Steam

via vuvagirl.com

No matter what Gwyneth Paltrow tells you, steaming your vagina is really not the greatest idea. The procedure is offered at fancy spas where you sit, sans underwear, on a special chair that sends herb-infused steam up inside of you, supposedly to balance your hormones out. Doctors advise against doing this because you can actually burn your insides with the steam and the herbs can cause irritation.

3. Douches

via wikiwand.com

Lots of women think they need to douche to get rid of their natural vaginal smell, but doing so does more harm than good. It can reduce the natural bacteria in your vagina, irritate the mucous lining and introduce foreign bacteria.

If that’s not enough to deter you, douching has been linked scientifically to pelvic inflammatory disease, reduced fertility, bacterial vaginitis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, cervical cancer, and ectopic pregnancy.

4. Tea tree oil

via wforwoman.com

I don’t know why anyone would want this inside their vagina because I am certain it would sting, but supposedly, some women have been known to put it up there.

Just because it is an oil, doesn’t make it suitable as a lubricant. In fact, it is caustic and can cause burns to your vagina.

Household grade oils that you can probably get away with are things like coconut oil, olive oil and almond oil because they are pH neutral.

5. Toppings that belong on an ice cream sundae

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If you’re thinking of spicing things up in the boudoir with whipped cream or chocolate syrup, maybe think again. Anything sugary like that will not only mess with your pH levels, you’re asking for a yeast infection if it gets in your vag.

6. Anything that has been inside your butt or someone else’s butt and hasn’t been cleaned

via aliexpress.com

If you put a penis or a sex toy or another object inside your vagina that has been used for anal shenanigans, you’re likely to spread bacteria into your vaginal cavity that really, really doesn’t belong there and you can end up with serious side effects.

7. Vodka tampons

via alloy.com

Supposedly, this is “a thing”. Some women soak tampons in vodka before inserting them into their vaginas, allegedly to get a buzz as the alcohol is absorbed into their bloodstreams. Not only is it likely to be painful, you can cause damage to your vaginal walls.

8. Yoghurt tampons

via taringa.net

Some people recommend soaking a tampon in yoghurt and inserting it as a natural home remedy to treat thrush. You’re actually just introducing more bacteria up there and making things worse.

9. Sharp objects

via peakfm.co.uk

Do I really need to explain why? You can cut yourself. Up there.

10. Your mobile phone

via mobilesuptothedate.blogspot.com

Just because it vibrates doesn’t mean it’s an actual vibrator. And did you know that your mobile phone probably has more germs than your toilet seat? Why would you stick that inside your vag?!?

11. Herbal womb detox balls

via sickchirpse.com

This bit of quackery, also known as a detox pearl, is a ball of herbs that is wrapped in a piece of gauze that you are supposed to place in your vagina to “detox” your reproductive tract. It’s claimed they can cure “imbalances” ranging from yeast infections through to polycystic ovarian syndrome. There’s actually no science to back up any of these claims and not only are you likely wasting your money buying this stuff, you could be endangering your reproductive health.

12. Vajazzling

via2.bp.blogspot.com

You can still put those rhinestones on the outside for decoration, so if you’re into that kind of thing keep on keeping on. But you should never attempt to stick rhinestones on the inside of your vagina. Because of someone, there’s a warning. The tissue on the inside of your vag is sensitive and can have a bad reaction to the glue.

13. Electric toothbrushes

via pccommandghana.com

Again, just because it buzzes doesn’t make it a sex toy. You’re also likely to spread bacteria from your mouth right up inside you.

14. Small animals

via picanimal.com

Those people who like to put gerbils and other critters inside them aren’t just part of urban folklore. They are extremely rare, but they do exist. There’s all sorts of reasons not to do it. For starters, the animal can’t consent. And it has tiny claws and is likely covered in germs. And you might kill it. Leave it the hell alone.

6 Things You Should NEVER Put Inside A Vagina

When it comes to the wondrous, complicated, and thoroughly mesmerizing vagina, the most important thing to know is this: A healthy vagina is a happy vagina.

Vaginas are a bit finicky and kind of bitchy. A lot of things make them mad. Plus, their climate is like a tropical rainforest. So they sometimes require attention and care to stay in tip-top shape.

To keep a vagina healthy, you have to do (and not do) a lot of shit. Vaginas need lots of airing out to avoid too much moisture, they shouldn’t be left in a wet bathing suit, they should be rinsed out with warm water daily.

And most importantly, you should never put anything in or around the vagina that doesn’t belong in it.

This last one can get a bit tricky. With so many things you CAN physically put in a vagina, how can you know what you should and should not put inside of it? When you’re engaging in sexual acts with the vagina, it’s easy to get lost in a moment and forget the delicate balance of vaginal health.

To make things easy, I’ve made a list of some of the common mistakes people make when it comes to the blessed lady-flower. Here are 6 things you should never put inside of a vagina:

1. Flavored lube

Flavored lube is one of my all-time favorite things. It has revolutionized the way I give blow jobs. It takes away that skin-y dick taste, and replaces it with something delicious, like mint or mango or strawberry. While flavored lube really is the shit, you cannot put it in a vagina.

Flavored lubes contain sugar, which can cause an overgrowth of yeast. Yummy! Who doesn’t want a sexual encounter to end with a yeast infection?

Even if the lube is sugar-free, you still shouldn’t put it in a vagina. The artificial flavoring in flavored lube can cause vaginal irritation and itching. The only lubes you should put in a vagina are water-based or oil-based. If you can stick to something all-natural like Jimmy Jane’s organic lube, Sustain all-natural lube, or 100% all-natural (and my personal fav) coconut oil, that would be ideal.

Seriously, you can’t put flavored lube in a vagina. Don’t do it. Wash off the penis before intercourse.

2. Household objects

Look, I get it. Sticking a rolling pin up your GF’s hoo-ha probably sounds really dope, but you can’t be putting a rolling pin in a vagina (or any other household objects, for that matter).

You can do some serious damage to a vagina by putting things that aren’t specifically designed for them inside. You don’t know where that household item has been, or what kind of materials it was made with. You have to treat your vagina with care, or you’ll wind up in the ER or with a raging yeast infection or UTI.

Also, it’s gross and unsanitary. You use those household objects for other things. You shouldn’t be using them for sex. There are sex toys for a reason. Go out and buy yourself something fun and festive. If you like the size of a rolling pin, get a Hitachi magic wand. It’s like a rolling pin, only without the possibility of vaginal splinters (because wood), and provides more vibration.

3. Toys that have been used for anal play

It doesn’t matter if you’ve washed the toy thoroughly with antibacterial soap, you shouldn’t put anything in a vagina if it has been in contact with a butthole. The only exceptions are toys made of stainless steel, but they need to be completely and thoroughly disinfected. Like, boiled-level disinfected.

If a toy has been in contact with your butt, keep it away from the vagina. Toys made of plastic, silicone, TPR Plastic or Thermoplastic Rubber, and Elastomer can all hold onto unpleasant scents and even fecal matter.

The best way to prevent any unwanted cross-pollination is to keep anal toys and vaginal toys separate. Get some toys for buttstuff, and get some toys for vaginal stuff. Problem solved.

4. Food of any kind

Sticking a maraschino cherry or chocolate syrup in your pussy definitely seems like a good idea in theory. Putting something delicious and sweet in a vagina could be cool.

Except it is NOT and you should NOT do that.

Putting food in a vagina can and will cause a yeast infection. As I said before, sugar can cause an overgrowth of yeast. You really don’t want anything do with that, seriously.

Food really has no place in the bedroom IMHO. It’s more than just the yeast, it’s the possibility of cockroaches and rodents in your bed. That is truly disturbing. Just say no to food in the sack.

Editor’s note: ONE EXCEPTION: A cucumber. For obvious reasons (and as suggested by Our Bodies, Ourselves.)

5. A mouth that has been near anyone’s anus

Analingus is totally hot. You want to toss your partner’s salad, you live your best life. BUT, if your partner has a vagina, you CANNOT put your mouth on your partner’s vagina until AFTER you’ve thoroughly washed out your mouth.

This goes for the penis or hands too. If you’ve put anything inside of a butthole, you cannot then put it into a vagina. Okay?

Getting fecal matter in the vagina is a serious no-no. You can transmit a variety of serious infections by switching from anal to vaginal penetration. The amount of bacteria in your rear is seriously intense. You do NOT want it in your, or another person’s, vagina.

6. Pretty much anything that isn’t a vaginal-only vibrator/dildo/sex toy, tampon, clean finger/mouth/dick

To sum it up, you basically shouldn’t be putting anything that is not specifically meant for the vagina in or around the vagina. If you have to question whether or not it’s okay to put something in a vagina, you should probably refrain.

Keep it clean so you and/or your partner’s vagina can be a healthy and happy participant in all sexual endeavors.

Plants That Look Like a Banana

Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

One of the most striking features of a banana plant (Musa spp.) is its large, paddlelike leaves that evoke the look of a warm and lush tropical landscape. Wind tears the banana leaf blade, making it shred into variously wide sections. From a gardener’s perspective, a banana plant grows fast and makes an attractive accent plant during frost-free times of year. Closely related plants to bananas also display large similar-looking leaves and make suitable alternatives.

Abyssinian Banana

Also in the banana family, Muscaceae is the Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosa), with leaves that look exactly like those of the common banana in genus Musa. While common banana leaves tend to arch and drooping from the trunk top, the Abyssinian banana’s leaves usually are more rigid and held at an upward angle. The leaves make a rosette crown at the top of the trunk. Some purple-leaved cultivars of Abyssinian banana exist, such as Maurelii.

White Bird of Paradise

Producing white and purple flowers rather than orange and blue flowers, the white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) bears large, waxy leaves that resemble banana leaves. Also called the tree bird of paradise or giant bird of paradise, each leaf blade measures up to 5 feet long and is attached to a petiole stem up to 6 feet long. All leaves on the trunk-like stem radiate outward in a single plane, with leaves splaying out like a V-shaped fan.

Traveler’s Tree

Sometimes referred to as the traveler’s palm since it becomes so tall with a stem-like trunk, the traveler’s tree (Ravenale madagascarensis) produces paddlelike leaves 6 to 12 feet long. Each leaf blade looks like a banana leaf on steroids and also shreds when bombarded by strong winds. Just like with the white bird of paradise, the numerous, tightly grouped leaves in the traveler’s tree radiate from the stem in a one-planed fan.

Heliconia

Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Sometimes called parrot’s beaks or lobster claws depending on the shape of the flower produced, any number of plants in the genus Heliconia may be confused with a banana. Large species of heliconia produce the larger paddlelike leaves reminiscent of a banana. Winds may tear the leaf blades. Once a heliconia blooms, its non-banana identity becomes apparent, as the floral bracts are vividly colored and long-lasting. The flowers also never produce an edible, banana-shaped fruit.

Banana Varieties and Tropical Fruit Trees

It is commonly thought that bananas grow on trees; however this is not exactly the case. Although a banana “tree” can grow up to 20 feet tall, a banana tree isn’t a tree at all; it’s the world’s largest herb. The fruit itself is actually a giant berry, and what is often thought of as the trunk of the tree is just a large modified stem.

Bananas are perennial plants, meaning they grow and produce flowers multiple times over a period of years. The life cycle of a banana plant are divided into two distinct phases: the vegetative phase (in which the plant prepares itself for reproduction) and the and reproductive phase (in which the plant begins to produce fruit).

Rhizome/Corm

This is the corm of a banana plant. You can tell it is the corm because the sprout is growing vertically from a singular node.

This is the rhizome of a banana plant. You can tell it is the rhizome because the sprout is growing horizontally. This is one node that separated from multiple others for replanting elsewhere.

Banana growth begins in the rhizome. The rhizome is often used interchangeably with the term corm, but in this case they are two different things. The rhizome is the plants true stem. It is what produces the plants root system and clonal plants. A rhizome is characterized by underground horizontal growth. Rhizomes also produce multiple nodes that can be cut apart and replanted to grow new plants.The corm on the other hand grows vertically underground and comes from a singular node.

Psuedostem

The psuedostem is the part of the plant that looks like stem but is actually a stem. This enlarged stem is very fleshy and filled with tons of water. It is formed by tightly-packed, overlapping leaves that unravel themselves as the plant grows taller. The psudeostem stops growing once all the leaves have unraveled and the stem of the inflorescence reaches the top.

Sucker

Sucker or “daughter” plant growing horizontally from rhizome.

A sucker is a lateral root that develops from the rhizome and close to the “mother” plant. The sucker is basically a clone of “daughter” plant that will replace the parent plant after it has finished fruiting.

Sword sucker growing from base of banana plant.

Water sucker growing from base of banana plant. Notice that it is further away from the mother plant as compared to the sword sucker.

There are two kinds of suckers, water suckers and sword suckers. Sword suckers have narrow leaves and a large rhizome. Water suckers look like miniature banana plants. They have broad leaves, small rhizomes, and a weak connection to the mother plant, so they will not develop into strong plants.

Leaf

“Cigar” leaf.

The leaves of the banana plants are its main photosynthetic organs. Each leaf emerges from the center of the psuedostem. Initially the leaf emerges tightly rolled, but unravels as it matures. These tightly rolled leaves have been nicknamed “cigar leaves”.

Inflorescence

Female flowers emerging from inflorescence and developing fruit.

Inflorescence “is a fancy word for a plant’s flowers and the way they arrange themselves while they’re growing” (Koeppel 9). It is the purple alien-like structure hanging from the bottom of the banana bunch on a tree.

First, the female flowers appear; these are the flowers that develop into “hands” of bananas. The ovaries develop into a seedless fruit without being pollinated.

After all the female flowers have fruited, the inflorescence elongates and produces clusters of male flowers within the brackets of the bud. The male bud produces pollen that may or may not be sterile. The presence or absence of the bud can be used to distinguish between cultivars.

Close up of an banana inflorescence. The “bud” or pod-part holds the male organs.

Inside of inflorescence peeled back to show male flowers.

Penduncle, Rachis & Bunch

Picture identifying the three parts of the inflorescence.

The inflorescence has three parts: the peduncle, the rachis, and the bunch. The peduncle is the stalk that supports the inflorescence and attaches it to the rhizome. The rachis is the bracketed stalk that stretches from the first fruit to the male. The “bunch” refers to the fruit on the rachis. Once the bunch begins to yellow you cut the peduncle and hang it upside down by the rachis to continue ripening.

As a houseplant, the banana tree will bring a touch of the tropics into your home.

Originating from East Asia, the banana is one of the oldest cultivated crops, and there’s more than 400 species worldwide of this exotic plant – characterised by large, smooth-edged leaves and a slightly wavy edge – from the Musaceae family.

If you want a banana tree (or two) in your home, follow these tips:

1. When buying a banana tree, look at the pot size, the height of the plant and the number of plants per pot. Its leaves are fragile so must be sleeved in order to prevent leaf damage and cold damage.

2. Also look out for diseases and pests: you’ll find aphids and scale insects are the most common. Meanwhile, sticky clear honeydew is a sign that there are ‘beasties’ living on the plant. And if conditions are too dry, the plant could have red spider mite, too.

3. Banana trees like warm conditions – they cannot cope well with temperatures below 12-15°C. And give them plenty of daylight but avoid placing in direct sunlight.

4. Because it has a large leaf area, the plant evaporates quite a lot of moisture and will therefore need some extra water.

Budi Selamat / EyeEmGetty Images

5. However, be careful when watering not to get the soil too wet because this can cause the root to rot, which ultimately disrupts the plant’s growth.

6. The banana tree has a limited range but Musa ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ and Musa ‘Tropicana’ are the most common varieties. The size of dwarf banana trees makes them suitable for living rooms.

7. Houseplant food once a fortnight will keep the banana tree strong and beautiful.

8. If it’s thriving and getting too big, remove some of the lower stems so that it produces fresh side shoots.

9. As a houseplant, the banana tree rarely bears fruit. The Cavendish is the most important species for edible bananas, but be warned, it often takes more than three years for the first flowers to appear on the plant which is needed for the fruit. To get a banana tree to flower, keep it growing with plenty of light and high temperatures, such as a conservatory. The plant may then flower and produce fruit after three to four years.

10. The banana tree can be placed in the garden in a sunny, sheltered spot as a container plant from mid-April to mid-October. Allow it to overwinter indoors, and allow it to gradually acclimatise to bright sunlight in the spring to prevent scorching.

The banana tree is thejoyofplants.co.uk’s Houseplant of the Month for April 2017.

thejoyofplants.co.uk / 2 Dezign

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Olivia Heath Digital Editor, House Beautiful UK Olivia Heath is the Digital Editor at House Beautiful UK, uncovering tomorrow’s biggest home trends, delivering stylish room decor inspiration and rounding up the hottest properties on the market.

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