- Dividing Banana Pups – Can You Transplant A Banana Tree Pup
- How to Divide Banana Plants
- Transplanting Banana Plant Pups
- How/When to Remove Banana Pups
- Morphology of the banana plant
- Root system
- Also on this website
- Growing Bananas (Musa Spp.)
- How To Grow Banana Plants And Keep Them Happy
- Banana Varieties
- How Do Bananas Grow?
- How To Get Started Growing Bananas
- Planting Bananas
- Maintaining Your Banana Patch
- Growing Banana Fruit
- You Might Also Like Growing These Fruits
- What is a Banana Bulb?
- Lady finger banana transplanting
Dividing Banana Pups – Can You Transplant A Banana Tree Pup
Banana plant pups are actually suckers, or offshoots, that grow from the base of the banana plant. Can you transplant a banana tree pup to propagate a brand new banana tree? You certainly can, and dividing banana pups is easier than you may think. Read on to learn more.
How to Divide Banana Plants
According to North Dakota State University Extension, dividing banana pups is the preferred methods of propagation. Before you begin, ensure the main banana plant is healthy and has at least three or four good sized offshoots to anchor it to the soil.
The first and most important step is to select a pup that is large enough to survive when separated from the mother plant. Small pups, known as buttons, won’t have sufficient roots to make it on their own. Don’t attempt to propagate pups less than 12 inches tall. Shoots measuring 2 to 3 feet tall and a minimum of 2 or 3 inches in diameter are more likely to develop into healthy plants.
It also helps to look for sword suckers, which have narrower leaves than water suckers. Sword suckers have a larger root system, while water suckers are more dependent on the mother plant for survival.
Once you’ve identified the pup you intend to divide, sever it from the parent with a sharp, sterile knife, then use a shovel to dig the corm (rhizome). Lift the pup and corm up and away from the mother plant as you carefully separate the roots. However, don’t worry if a few roots are broken; the most important thing is to get a good-sized chunk of corm and a few healthy roots.
Transplanting Banana Plant Pups
Your banana pup is now ready to be planted away from the mother plant. Plant the pup in well-drained soil that has been amended with compost or rotted manure. Don’t plant too deeply; ideally, the pup should be planted at the same depth it was growing while still attached to the parent plant.
If you’re planting more than one pup, allow at least 2 to 3 feet between each one. If you live in a warm climate where the trees will produce fruit, allow at least 8 feet.
You can also plant the pup in a pot filled with fresh, well-drained potting mix. Be sure the container has drainage holes.
Water the pup deeply, then apply a layer of mulch around (but not touching) the pup to keep the soil moist and moderate temperature.
Don’t be worried if the leaves wilt and initial growth is rather slow. In fact, you can direct energy to root development by trimming all but the top leaf, as the leaves will probably wither anyway. It also helps to keep the newly transplanted pup in the shade for the first few days.
How/When to Remove Banana Pups
Good Morning. You are moving to Dallas one of the greatest desgn centers in the US. We’re in an out of Dallas all of the time because of the projects we are working on. Once you connect with a professional in the area you can use the entire Dallas design showrooms. Anything and everything is available in Dallas. A retail furniture store in Dallas is Gabberts. I question I have failed to asked is do you have a pool or are you thinking of putting one in? You are moving to Dallas where everyone has a pool. Everyone has a budget and if you can’t do anything with the bow windows then maybe it is best to do nothing at all right now. Keep the glass and keep the doors let that be a complete element. Design the tile room as a room that supports some exterior activity; hopefully a pool with some live plants and simple furnishings. Less is more and keep it light and airy. The living/dining areas needs at least the same flooring between the rooms and since all of the trim in the fireplace area is painted do the same in the trim in the bowed window area. But if you are not going to do the bow window right now I’m not sure how to proceed with doing the floors because if the bow window goes away you would have to address the floors again even if you are just patching in the wood you would have to refinish everything again. So, you’re back to decorating a room. You are moving to Dallas where it gets every warm and has high humidity in the summer and you want fabrics that breath. @ Susan Mills has suggested a great direction in the room and I agree with her thoughts about using lighter fabrics like linen. We use lighter fabric all of the time and wearability and cleaning ability comes up in our conversations with our clients but we have ways to offset those issues. If you look at our project photos we have a residence called something like “A Tulsa Growing Family” and in the large living/dining room we used linen on the sofa’s and the seat cushions for the sofa’s are all a matching leather. To tie together the linen and the leather on the sofas all the welt cords are leather. Also look at a photo with a curved stained paneled ceiling that follows the lines of the segmented arched window because all of those furniture items supports the pool. The upholstery is all water proof Perinnal (based in Dallas) fabrics and so is the area rug. So, there are ways to use ligther fabrics and offset any durability issues. Finally when shopping for furniture in the open retail market stay away from furniture that looks like it needs to go on a diet. Everything these days is overstuffed and a fat. I know people see overstuffed and that equals comfort or something,,,,,but look for tailored items. If the bowed window is the dining area then you need to remove the ceiling fan and replace that fixture with a stunning chandelier. Take care and I hope this helps, have to run.
Morphology of the banana plant
Banana mat Drawing of a banana mat showing the ‘true’ stem (shown in blue) inside the pseudostem. The clump formed by the fruit-bearing parent plant, its suckers and the rhizome is called a mat.
The banana plant is a tree-like perennial herb. It is an herb because it does not have woody tissues and the aerial parts of the parent plant die down to the ground after the growing season. It is a perennial because one of the offshoots growing at the base of the plant, the sucker, then takes over. The parent plant and its suckers form what is commonly called a mat, or stool. The botanical term is genet.
What looks like a trunk is not a woody stem but a pseudostem, a compact masse of overlapping and spirally arranged leaf sheaths. Most of the ‘true’ stem is inside the pseudostem. In a fruiting plant, it starts on the rhizome and ends with the meristem in the male bud (if present).
The variability observed in morphological traits is used to characterize banana plants. Wild species of bananas share the same body plant as cultivated bananas, except that they reproduce through both seeds and suckers.
The root system is the means by which the plant takes up water and nutrients from the soil.
The roots are produced by the underground structure called a rhizome. The primary roots originate from the surface of the central cylinder (see below), whereas secondary and tertiary roots originate from the primary roots.
The rhizome is commonly referred to as a corm, and occasionally as a bulb, but the botanically correct term is rhizome. Rhizomes are characterized by horizontal underground growth; production of roots from multiple nodes; and production of clonal plants. Corms, on the other hand, are vertical enlarged compact stems with a tunic of thin leaves and roots arising from a single node; features that do not describe well the banana plant’s underground structure.
In the vegetative phase, the terminal growing point of the rhizome, the apical meristem, has the form of a flattened dome. At the transition from the vegetative to the floral stage, the meristem area becomes convex and rises above the surrounding leaf bases. Flower bracts appear in place of leaves. Following the formation of the flower, the aerial stem begins to develop and carries the flower and leaf upwards, eventually emerging at the top of the pseudostem.
Main page on the banana pseudostem
The stem is visible in the center of the pseudostem
The pseudostem is the part of the plant that looks like a trunk. This ‘false stem’ is formed by the tightly packed overlapping leaf sheaths. The pseudostem continues to grow in height as the leaves emerge one after the other and reaches its maximum height when the stem, which has been developping inside the pseudostem, emerges at the top of the plant.
Even though the pseudostem is very fleshy and consists mostly of water, it is quite sturdy and can support a bunch that weighs 50 kg or more.
The stem provides support to the leaves, and flowers and fruits. The leaves or flowers are attached to a node, and the sections between nodes are internodes. The stem develops from the apical meristem on the rhizome and grows inside the pseudostem until it emerges at the top of the plant. The part inside the pseudostem is called the aerial stem. When it emerges at the top of the plant, it becomes the peduncle.
The leaves are attached to the aerial stem (erroneously called floral stem), whereas the flowers and fruits are attached to the peduncle.
Main page on the banana leaf
The leaf is the plant’s main photosynthetic organ. Each leaf emerges from the center of the pseudostem as a rolled cylinder (see cigar leaf below). The distal end of the elongating leaf sheath contracts into a petiole, that is more or less open depending on the cultivar. The petiole becomes the midrib, which divides the blade into two lamina halves. The upper surface of the leaf is called adaxial while the lower one is called abaxial.
The first rudimentary leaves produced by a growing sucker are called scale leaves. Mature leaves that consist of sheath, petiole, midrib and blade are called foliage leaves.
Lamina veins run parallel to each other in a long S shape from midrib to margin. Veins do not branch, which results in leaves tearing easily.
The cigar leaf is a recently emerged leaf still rolled as a cylinder.
The lapse of time in which a leaf unfolds varies. Under favourable climatic conditions, it takes about seven days, but it can take up to 15 to 20 days under poor conditions.
The new leaf is tightly coiled, whitish, and particularly fragile.
The extension at the tip of the leaf is called the precursory appendage. After emergence, it withers and falls off.
Main page on the banana sucker
From left to right: water sucker and sword sucker
A sucker is a lateral shoot that develops from the rhizome and usually emerges close to the parent plant. Other names for sucker are keiki (in Hawaii) and pup.
A sucker that has just emerged through the soil surface is called a peeper. A full grown sucker bearing foliage leaves is called a maiden sucker.
Morphologically, there are two types of sucker: sword suckers (right on the photo), characterized by narrow leaves and a large rhizome, and water suckers (left on the photo), which have broad leaves and a small rhizome. Water suckers have a weak connection to the parent plant and as such will not develop into a strong plant.
The number of suckers produced varies with the type of cultivar. The sucker selected to replace the parent plant after fruiting is called the follower or ratoon.
The inflorescence is a complex structure that includes the flowers that will develop into fruits. The botanical term for the banana inflorescence is a thyrse (an inflorescence in which the main axis continues to grow and the lateral branches have determinate growth). The main types of flowers are the female flowers, which develop into fruits, and the male flowers.
The female (pistillate) flowers appear first. In cultivated bananas, the ovary develops into a seedless fruit by parthenocarpy (without being pollinated). As it lifts, the bract (a modified leaf associated with a reproductive structure) exposes a cluster of female flowers that are normally arranged in two rows. These flowers will develop into a hand of fruit. The number of hands in the bunch depends on the number of female clusters in the inflorescence, and varies depending on the genotype and environmental conditions.
Male flowers As the female flowers develop into fruit, the distal portion of the inflorescence elongates and produces clusters of male (staminate) flowers that produce pollen. In cultivated bananas, the amount of pollen is reduced or may be absent.
Traditional names given to parts of the peduncle.
In botany, the peduncle is the stalk that supports the inflorescence. Yet, in the Descriptors for bananas, the peduncle refers only to the stalk between the leaf crown and the first hand of fruit, whereas the stalk that actually supports the female and male flowers is called rachis. Jeff Daniells and David Turner have argued that in keeping with the botanical definition of the term, the peduncle extends to the meristem in the male bud and is composed of three sections: the transitional, female and male peduncles.
The transitional peduncle supports organs that are in transition from leaves to bracts: sterile nodes with a bract that abscises at bunch emergence. It corresponds that what is traditionally called the the peduncle.
The female peduncle supports the female flowers that develop into fruits.
The bunch is the descriptive term that includes all the fruits. The fruits are arranged into hands, the former clusters of flowers that were each subtended by a bract. By analogy, the fruits in a hand are often called fingers. The largest bunch, according to Guinness World Records, weighed in at 130 kg.
The male peduncle supports the male flowers in the male bud. It corresponds that what is traditionally called the rachis, an ambiguous term that in botany has been used in relation to both vegetative and reproductive parts, whereas the term peduncle is only used for stems that support flowers.
The part above the male bud can be bare or covered with persistent bracts. The scars (nodes) indicate where the bracts were attached. The male peduncle continues to grow as the fruits are maturing.
The male bud contains clusters of male flowers. Each cluster is subtended by a bract. The male bud is sometimes called the bell. In some cultivars, it ceases to grow after the fruits have set and can be more or less exhausted by the time the bunch reaches maturity. The presence or absence of the male bud is one of the traits used to distinguish cultivars.
1. Clonal colony or genet, retrieved 20 July 2017 2. 1996. Descriptors for banana (Musa spp.). IPGRI, Rome (ITA). 55p. 3. Differences between roots and rhizomes, retrieved 16 March 2016 4. Robinson, J.C. and Galán Saúco, V. 2010. Bananas and plantains. Crop production science in horticulture. CABI, Wallingford (GBR). 297p. 5. What is a rhizome, retrieved 16 March 2016 6. Skutch, A.F. 1932. Anatomy of the Axis of the Banana. The Botanical Gazette, 93(3):233-258. 7. Blog post Would the true peduncle please stand up? published 3 March 2016 in Under the peel, the blog of the ProMusa community. 8. Kirchoff. B.K. 1992. Ovary structure and anatomy in the Heliconiaceae and Musaceae (Zingiberales). Canadian Journal of Botany, 70(12): 2490-2508. 9. Endress, P.K. 2010. Disentangling confusions in inflorescence morphology: Patterns and diversity of reproductive shoot ramification in angiosperms. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 48(4):225-39
Also on this website
Would the true peduncle please stand up? published 3 March 2016 in Under the peel, the blog of the ProMusa community
Growing Bananas (Musa Spp.)
How To Grow Banana Plants And Keep Them Happy
Growing bananas does not take much effort, but it does require that you get a few things right when you first get started…
Banana plants can offer many benefits:
- They make great windbreaks or screens,
- they can keep the sun of the hot western side of your house,
- they utilize the water and nutrients in waste drains (think washing water or outdoor shower),
- the leaves can be fed to horses, cows and other grazers,
- the dried remains of the trunks can be used for weaving baskets and mats.
Oh, and they give you bananas. Lots of bananas!
25 kg of bananas in the making.
But when I look around friends’ gardens then I see some pretty sad looking banana plants growing there. It helps to understand what bananas like and dislike if you want them to be happy!
Banana plants like:
- Rich, dark, fertile soils.
- Lots of mulch and organic matter. LOTS. Just keep piling it on.
- Lot of nitrogen and potassium. (Chicken manure!)
- Steady warmth, not too hot and not too cold. (Bananas are sissies when it comes to temperatures…)
- Steady moisture, in the ground and in the air.
- The shelter of other bananas! That’s the most overlooked aspect by home growers…
Banana plants dislike:
- Strong winds.
- Extreme heat or cold.
- Being hungry or thirsty.
- Being alone and exposed.
More detail on all that below.
Cavendish is the variety that you know from the supermarket. If you live near a banana growing region, this is the variety you see in the plantations. It is a stout plant that produces large heavy bunches.
Lady Fingers are very tall and slender plants and have smaller, sweeter fruit. They are often grown by gardeners as ornamental plants with the small fruit being a bonus.
Plantains are cooking bananas. They are drier and more starchy. You use them green like you would use potatoes, and they taste similar.
80% of all bananas grown in the world are plantain varieties! They are an important staple food in many tropical countries.
There are many other exotic varieties, but those above are the most popular and most commonly grown.
What I describe below and most of the pictures on this page refer to Cavendish bananas but the advice applies to all other varieties as well.
How Do Bananas Grow?
Bananas are not real trees, not even palm trees, even though they are often called banana palms. Bananas are perennial herbs.
(Gingers, heliconias and bird-of-paradise flowers are distant relatives of bananas. They are in the same order, Zingiberales.)
Banana trunks consists of all the leaf stalks wrapped around each other. New leaves start growing inside, below the ground. They push up through the middle and emerge from the centre of the crown. So does the flower, which finally turns into a bunch of bananas.
Here is a picture series showing how the flower looks at first, and how the bananas appear and curl up towards the light.
Those pictures were taken over the course of a few days. You can pretty much watch this happen. But now it will take another two months or so, depending on the temperature, for the fruit to fill out and finally ripen.
A banana plant takes about 9 months to grow up and produce a bunch of bananas. Then the mother plant dies. But around the base of it are many suckers or pups, little baby plants.
At the base of a banana plant, under the ground, is a big rhizome called the corm.
The rhizome has many growing points and those turn into new suckers/pups. The suckers can be taken off and transplanted, and one or two can be left in position to replace the mother plant.
Great, so now you know what to do once you have bananas growing in your garden, but how do you start?
How To Get Started Growing Bananas
First you need to make sure that you can in fact grow bananas where you are.
You need a tropical or warm subtropical climate. Bananas can handle extreme heat (if they have enough water), but they don’t like it. They can handle cool weather for a short while, but they don’t like that either. Below 14°C (57°F) they just stop growing.
If the temperatures drop any lower the fruit suffers, the skin turns greyish and the leaves can turn yellow. Frost kills the plant above ground, but the corm can survive and may re-shoot.
The ideal temperature range for banana growing is around 26-30°C (78-86°F).
You need a lot of water to grow bananas. The huge soft leaves evaporate a lot and you have to keep up the supply. Bananas also need high humidity to be happy.
Where I live the commercial banana growers water their plants two or three times a day with sprinklers to keep up the humidity in the banana plantation!
You need very rich soil. If you don’t have good soil to start with, make some. Incorporate lots and lots of compost and plenty of chicken manure before you plant your bananas. Wood ash for extra potassium doesn’t hurt either. Then mulch them very thickly. And keep mulching and feeding them!
And you need room so you can plant enough of them together. Bananas need shelter from wind. Growing many banana plants together increases the humidity in the middle, evens out temperature changes a bit, and it shades and cools the trunks. You don’t want to cook the flower that’s forming in the middle…
If you get a chance, look at a commercial banana plantation somewhere. The outside rows, especially the western side, always look sad. The best bananas grow on the inside.
You should plant bananas in blocks or clumps, not single rows and definitely not single plants. If you have very little room you can grow a few banana plants together and grow something else on the outside to protect them. But you do need to give them that sheltered jungle environment if you want them to be happy.
(Now, please don’t send me any more emails letting me know that you are successfully growing a solitary banana plant in a tub on your patio or in your greenhouse or wherever. This is a permaculture site. We are not talking about keeping plants alive outside their natural growing conditions. We are growing food.
Having said that, understanding what makes a banana plant happy will help you grow it just for fun and under sub-optimal conditions as well.)
You can not grow the usual bananas from seeds. These banana plants don’t produce viable seeds like wild bananas do.
The best way is to start with the above mentioned suckers or pups. Know someone who grows bananas? Talk to them. Every banana plant produces a lot more suckers than you need, so people usually have plenty to give away.
Only take suckers from vigorous banana plants. The suckers should have small, spear shaped leaves and ideally be about four feet high. Smaller suckers will take longer to fruit and the first banana bunch will be smaller.
Cut the sucker from the main banana plant with a sharp shovel. Cut downwards between the mature plant and the sucker. You have to cut through the corm. It’s not easy.
Make sure you get a good chunk of corm and many roots with it. Chop the top off the sucker to reduce evaporation while you move it and while it settles into its new home.
Remember, the growing point is at the bottom of a banana plant. You can decapitate the sucker. It will grow back.
Another option is to dig up a bit of the rhizome and chop it into bits. Every bit that has an eye can be planted and will grow into a banana plant. But it takes longer than growing banana suckers.
Plant your bits or suckers in your well prepared banana patch, keeping two to five metres between them.
The spacing depends on your layout. My bananas grow in a block of several double rows. Within the double rows the spacing is two to three metres, now with two plants in each position, suckers of the initial plant. My double rows are four to five metres apart.
I also have a banana circle around an outdoor shower with two metres at the most between individual plants, and they are growing in a haphazard way.
If you have just a single clump of a few banana plants you can put them even closer together.
Keep your banana plants moist but not too wet in the early days or they may rot. They don’t have leaves yet to evaporate water, so they don’t need a lot of it.
Maintaining Your Banana Patch
The most common cause of death for bananas is lack of water.
The most common cause for not getting fruit is starvation.
Banana plants blow over in strong winds.
Protect them and feed them and water them and all will be well. Other than that bananas don’t need much maintenance.
Just remove any dead leaves and cut down the dead plants every now and then.
You get bigger fruit if you remove all unwanted suckers, only keeping the best one.
After the initial planting you can leave two on healthy, vigorous plants. Beyond that it is better to keep one sucker per plant on average. Otherwise your patch will become too crowded.
The best suckers are the ones with the small, spear shaped leaves, NOT the pretty ones with the big round leaves!
Why? A sucker that is still fed by the mother plant does not need to do much photosynthesis, so it doesn’t need to produce big leaves.
And a sucker that is well looked after by the mother plant will produce better fruit and be stronger than one that had to struggle on its own.
A mature plantation is pretty much self mulching. Just throw all the leaves and old trunks etc. back under the plants. You can also grow other plants in the understory to produce more mulch. (I use cassava, sweet potato and crotolaria).
You just need to sprinkle on some fertiliser every now and then, to replace what you took out of the system when you took the bananas. Bananas are high in potassium, so ideally the fertiliser should be, too. Keep the fertiliser close to the trunk as bananas don’t have big root systems.
Growing Banana Fruit
You may see your first flower emerge after about six months, depending on the weather. Leave the leaves around it, especially the one protecting the top bend of the stalk from sunburn!
As the purple flower petals curl back and drop off they reveal a “hand” of bananas under each. Each banana is a “finger”.
You may get anything between four to a dozen or more full hands. Then, under the next petal, you’ll see a hand of teeny weeny excuses for bananas. Those are the male fingers.
The male fingers just dry and drop off. Only the stalk remains. If you let it grow it will eventually reach the ground.
Some people break off the “bell” (the bunch of purple flower petals at the end) about 15 cm below the last female hand. That way the banana plant puts its energy and reserves into growing big bananas, and not into growing a long stalk. Commercial banana growers also remove some of the bottom female hands, so the remaining bananas grow bigger.
Not everyone thinks that way, though. This is a comment from one of my readers:
“I never cut the flower off the bananas. The hummers (Ed: hummingbirds) love them too much. As you said, there are always enough bananas around and though I sell them I have to keep my hummers happy.”
Well, and then you patiently wait for at least another two months.
If your banana plant is not very strong or not very straight you may have to prop your banana bunch, because it becomes very heavy, and a bunch can snap off or pull the whole plant over.
A good prop would be a long stick with a u-shaped hook at the end. But a long enough plank or pole can do the job, too. I leave that to your ingenuity.
Bananas are ready to be picked when they look well rounded with ribs, and the little flowers at the end are dry and rub off easily. You can pick them now, green, and they will start ripening as soon as you pick them, no matter their size.
They will eventually ripen on the bunch, too, and those bananas taste the best. But once they start they ripen very quickly, faster than you can eat or use them. So you may as well cut the top hands off a bit earlier and ripen them on the kitchen bench.
You can also cut the whole bunch and hang it somewhere if you need to protect it from possums or birds or other thieves. But then all bananas will ripen at once! So be prepared.
You can preserve bananas for use in cooking and baking by peeling and freezing them. Or, to preserve them for eating, peel, split in half lengthwise and dry them.
Once the bunch is picked the rest of the plant will die quickly. Cut it to the ground, throw on some chook poo, and let the next sucker grow while you process all the bananas.
The mystery of the missing banana bunch
by reader Glenn Baxter
“We grow some Cavendish bananas in a small area in the back garden and the biggest plant eventually produced a good-sized bunch of bananas.
The bunch was nearly ready to pick when all the hands disappeared off the main stalk. There were no skins or any bits of fruit left on the ground.
We suspected that someone had stolen them until we looked closer on the ground under the bare stalk…
There was a small mound of kanagaroo poo!
We didn’t believe that the roos would eat bananas, until my wife was approached by one while she was eating a banana. She offered some to the roo who eagerly ate it and was looking for more. So there you go.”
The banana thief! © Photo: Glenn Baxter
Commercial banana growers use bunch covers (plastic bags open at both ends that they slip over the bunch and tie at the top) to protect bananas from diseases, insects, sunburn and marauders. You can try to buy those bags at a rural supplies store, or beg some of a grower.
I used to bag my bananas (hard to get out of habits after four years of working on commercial plantations) but I don’t bother any more. Even if the birds get a few, there are still more than enough left for me and the chickens and the dog and all friends and their families and freezing and drying… So why not let the wild birds (or kangaroos) partake of the bounty as well!
You Might Also Like Growing These Fruits
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What is a Banana Bulb?
Anatomy of the Banana Plant
Like a tulip or other flowering bulb, most of what you see when you look at a banana is leaves. The so-called trunk of the banana tree is actually a tightly packed roll of leaves. The leaves emerge from the center of the “trunk.” This structure – known as the pseudostem – derives its strength from the overlapping curvature of the leaf stems.
If you compare bananas to their relatives ginger and bird of paradise flower, you’ll quickly see similarities. Each has a knobby underground rhizome from which leaves spring. Ginger rhizomes branch from the main root, each producing leaves. The bird of paradise flower develops thick, twisted rhizomes in similar fashion to what is called the root mat of a banana.
Climates for Bananas
Commercial edible bananas are tropical fruits, although some varieties can be grown outdoors in the US in USDA Zones 10 and 11. Plantains, or cooking bananas, have a slightly wider range and are grown in much of the American south. Ornamental bananas are often grown indoors or in containers, but primarily as foliage plants.
How to Grow Bananas
The banana is a heavy feeder, especially during the period when it is throwing up leaves and developing a flower stalk. It needs:
- Full sun or morning sun and dappled afternoon shade.
- Plenty of water but very well-draining soil.
- Enriched soil – especially in containers.
- Regular applications of fertilizer during the growing period.
Although non-edible banana varieties can be grown from seed, most growers prefer vegetative propagation. The plant throws up suckers from its main bulb, or rhizome, which can be divided from the mother plant and replanted in pots or the ground. You can also replant the main bulb in new potting soil, although suckers typically grow better.
Propagating New Plants
The root mass, or mat, of a banana plant includes the bulb/rhizome, suckers and roots themselves. In the mature plant, this mat can grow five feet deep and spread over 30 feet. Suckers can be narrow-leaved (sword suckers) or broad-leaved (water suckers). The former are a better choice for propagating new plants.
Storing Banana Bulbs
If you live in a cooler climate, you can dig and store the bulb in a dark space where the temperature does not drop below freezing. Cut off lower leaves and pry the bulb out of the soil. Cut off roots that extend out of the sol mass – they’ll rot. Place a plastic garbage bag over the root mass and move to storage. Do not water unless roots seem very dry and wilted.
Lady finger banana transplanting
Banana plants come back well. I’m not a banana professional but I had a dozen or so in my orchard until last Spring.
Winter 2017 was very dry. Virtually no rain for 3 months or so and I did my best to be able to keep enough water up to my orchard just to keep it alive.
Unfortunately the vegetation in the surrounding area completely dried out and my orchard became food for the wildlife.
Every single banana tree was eaten to the ground. They wouldn’t have been taller than 1 metre, but there wasn’t any sign of them left until I noticed the root crown of one of them.
I gave that one a little water on my rounds and it came back like it never happened. Another one came back once it started to rain again, but the rest were all lost.
So from this, I’d say that you don’t need the leaves or stem, and don’t let the roots dry out. Maybe if I had given the others water, more may have come back.
I’d cut off the bit with roots and pot it. Keep it moist and warm and wait.
Also bananas are propagated by tissue culture. Someone in the banana business may say this is a dumb suggestion, but if that was my plant, I’d also try potting a piece of the white stem base as an experiment and put it on the kitchen window sill so I’ll see it all the time. If I notice growth from it one morning while getting breakfast, I’d be floating on air with joy and amazement. What’s to lose?