How to grow a banana tree (with pictures)

How to grow a banana tree (with pictures)
How to grow a banana tree (with pictures)

It can be extraordinary to have your own access to delicious, organic bananas if you are prepared to deal with them for a long time. If you live in hot latitudes or have a good place indoors, you'll soon have plenty of delicious, chemical-free bananas.


Part 1 of 4: choosing the planting location

Grow Banana Plants Step 1

Step 1. Check the temperature and humidity in the area where you live

The humidity should be at least 50% and as constant as possible. Ideal daytime temperatures should be between 26-30 ° C and nighttime temperatures should not drop below 20 ° C. Acceptable temperatures should be warm and should never drop below 14 ° C or exceed 34 ° C.

  • Bananas can take up to a year to make bananas, which is why it is important to know the temperatures they will experience throughout the year.
  • If the temperature drops below 14 ° C, your banana tree will no longer grow.
Grow Banana Plants Step 2

Step 2. Find the sunniest area of ​​your garden

Bananas grow best when exposed to direct sunlight for 12 hours a day. They can still grow in less light (but they will grow slower), but you need to find the spot in your garden that gets the most light.

Grow Banana Plants Step 3

Step 3. Choose a location where the water is well drained

Bananas require a lot of water, but they tend to rot if the water stagnates at their roots.

  • To check how the soil drains water, dig a hole 12 inches deep, fill it with water, and allow the soil to absorb the water. Fill it again once it's empty, then measure how much water is left in the hole after an hour. Between 7 and 15 cm of drainage per hour would be ideal for planting your bananas.
  • You can improve drainage by planting the banana tree in a flower bed or adding 20% ​​perlite to the soil.
  • This is all the more important if you are planting a banana tree that has no leaves yet or whose leaves have been cut for transport. The leaves help evaporate excess water.
Grow Banana Plants Step 4

Step 4. Leave them enough space

Even though from a technical point of view the banana tree is an herb, there is a good reason to confuse them with trees. Some varieties and individuals can reach almost 8 but in height, but you would need to check where your banana is coming from or at a banana dealer to get a better idea of ​​what species you are buying.

  • Each banana tree should be planted in a hole at least 30cm wide and 30cm deep. You need to dig larger holes if you plant it in a windy area (and you will need more potting soil).
  • Keep bananas away from other trees and shrubs at least 4.5 meters (but not from other bananas) with which their root systems might compete for water.
  • Several bananas planted in the same place could help each other to maintain good humidity and temperatures, as long as they are planted at a good distance from each other. If you can, plant several in clumps, leaving between 2 and 3 meters between each banana, or plant more, leaving between 3 and 5 meters.
  • Dwarf varieties need less space.
Grow Banana Plants Step 5

Step 5. Consider growing them indoors

If the place outside where you wanted to grow them is not suitable, you need a place indoors with similar growing conditions (12 hours of light per day and a warm temperature and a constant humidity levels).

  • You need a large pot that can hold the banana as it grows up, or you will need to transplant the banana into a larger pot whenever needed.
  • Only use pots that have drainage holes so that excess water can escape from the pot.
  • Consider growing a variety of dwarf bananas if you don't have enough space inside.
  • Use half of the fertilizer you would use outdoors when growing the plant indoors, or leave none at all if you don't have room to grow a plant that is too tall (this might be appropriate for a houseplant that you don't want to harvest the fruits of).

Part 2 of 4: planting the banana tree

Grow Banana Plants Step 6

Step 1. Choose the planting material

You can buy a banana sucker (that is, a small banana tree that grew from a root) in a garden center or on the Internet. Suckers grow from banana rhizomes, also called a corm. From tissue cultures are also produced in laboratories to obtain species that produce more fruit. If you are transplanting an adult plant, prepare a suitable hole for its size and have someone help you.

  • The best suckers to use are around 2 meters tall and have thin, sword-shaped leaves, although you can also get smaller suckers if the mother banana is healthy. Large, round leaves tell you that the sucker is trying to make up for a lack of nutrients.
  • If the sucker is still attached to its mother plant, cut it with a shovel that you drive vertically into the ground. Remove it with a good part of the corm and the roots.
  • A rhizome (or a corm) that does not bear suckers can be cut into several pieces. Each piece that has a bud (a sucker that will grow) will give you a banana tree, but this technique will take you longer than if you started directly with a sucker.
Grow Banana Plants Step 7

Step 2. Prune the plant

Cut away any dead, insect-eaten, rotten, or discolored parts of the plant. If most of the plant is affected, throw it away from other plants and find another banana tree to plant.

If you are using a sucker, prune a few inches at the roots. This will limit the cases of illnesses. You can also trim the excess leaves to leave only five, or cut the top of the plant on an angle to increase the amount of sunlight that warms the soil to help the roots grow and to prevent mold growth

Grow Banana Plants Step 8

Step 3. Dig a hole for each banana tree

Pull out all the plants and weeds that are growing where you want to plant the bananas, then dig a circular hole 30cm wide and 30cm deep. A larger hole will support the plant better, but will also require more potting soil.

If you are planting indoors, use a pot that is the size of the hole, or even larger

Grow Banana Plants Step 9

Step 4. Fill the hole with airy, rich potting soil

Leave a few inches of space on top to improve drainage.

  • Do not use not of standard potting soil or your garden soil unless you are sure it will suit bananas. Cactus potting soil usually produces good results. You can also seek advice from other banana growers.
  • The ideal soil acidity is between a pH of 5.5 and a pH of 7. A pH of 7.5 or higher can kill the plant.
Grow Banana Plants Step 10

Step 5. Place the plant upright in the soil

The leaves should point upwards and the soil should cover the roots by 2-3 cm. Tamp the soil so the banana tree stays in place, but don't make it too compact.

Part 3 of 4: Caring for a banana tree

Grow Banana Plants Step 11

Step 1. Fertilize once a month a little further than the trunk

Use store-bought fertilizer, compost, liquid manure, or a mixture of the above. Add fertilizer immediately after planting the banana tree in a regular circle around the plant, then repeat once a month.

  • Young adults need 100-200g of fertilizer per month, while adults need 700-900g. Increase the amount as the plant grows.
  • If the temperature drops below 14 ° C or if the plant has not grown in the last month, do not fertilize.
  • The content of fertilizers is most often indicated by three letters N-P-K which represent the rate of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Bananas need a high level of potassium, but other nutrients are also very important. You can use a balanced fertilizer (with three more or less equal numbers) or a fertilizer specially adapted to fill the nutrient gaps in the soil.
  • Do not use recently produced liquid manure, as the heat it gives off during decomposition could damage the plant.
Grow Banana Plants Step 12

Step 2. Water frequently, but avoid overwatering

Bananas often die because they are not watered enough, but too much water causes the roots to mold.

  • In hot latitudes where it doesn't rain, you should water the plants daily, but only if the top 2-3 inches of the soil is dry. Test with your finger before watering.
  • Reduce the amount of water when watering if you observe that it stagnates for a long time (this can cause rotting of the roots).
  • In cooler latitudes where the banana tree grows very slowly, you can water once a week or every two weeks. Remember to check the soil moisture.
  • Leaves help evaporate excess moisture, so be careful not to flood young plants (you only need to moisten the soil) that have not yet developed all of their leaves.
  • Water the circle with the fertilizer you have spread to help it soak into the soil.
Grow Banana Plants Step 13

Step 3. Add mulch

Remove dead leaves and dead bananas and cut them into small pieces to spread them all around living plants. Any other organic waste or wood ash can also be added to return the nutrients they contain to the soil.

Check the mulch regularly and pull out any weeds that may grow. They could compete with bananas

Grow Banana Plants Step 14

Step 4. Check for discoloration, dead leaves and pests

If you find a diseased banana, identify the disease it has and deal with it right away or pull it out. Pests should also be kept under control as early as possible. Nitrogen and potassium deficiencies are the most common nutritional problems in bananas, so you need to learn to recognize them as early as possible.

  • Signs of nitrogen (N) deficiency: tiny leaves or pale green leaves, reddish pink leaf sheaths, very weak growth, small fruit.
  • Signs of potassium (K) deficiency: rapid appearance of orange or yellow leaves that die off immediately after, small leaves or broken leaves, late flowering, small fruits.
  • Here are some examples of illnesses: Moko disease, Panama disease or Fusarium wilt of banana, bush top disease, root borer nematode disease and black streak disease.
  • Here are some examples of insect pests: corn weevil, banana aphid, mealybug. Some insects attack fruits like berry thrips, red rust thrips and some species of weevils.
Grow Banana Plants Step 15

Step 5. Prune the suckers

Once the plant has reached adulthood and several suckers have sprouted, prune them all and leave just one to improve fruit production and plant health.

  • Leave only one sucker and cut the others at ground level and cover the exposed part of the plant with soil. Repeat with a deeper cut if the sucker is growing back.
  • The sucker you leave is called the follower and it will replace the banana when it dies.
  • Exceptionally, healthy plants can support two suckers.
Grow Banana Plants Step 16

Step 6. Provide support for the plant to prevent it from bending due to the wind or the weight of the bunch

There are three easy ways to do this.

  • The rope and bottle method. Cut out the bottom of a bottle. Thread a very long cord or heavy-duty string through the neck and bottom of the bottle. Press down on the bottle for easy folding. Press the banana tree stem onto the bottle and use the rope to slightly straighten the stem. Tie a knot to hold the stem.
  • The simple bamboo method. Use a 3 meter bamboo rod or other hard material. Cut out a Y-shaped piece of wood that is 10cm thick and 60cm wide. Let the rod rest on the hollow of the Y and push the bamboo upwards so that the rod is fully seated in the hollow of the Y. Push the other end of the bamboo deep into the ground. Firmly tamp the soil all around.
  • The double bamboo method. Use two bamboo rods 3 meters long. Tie the two bamboos at one of their ends with strong string, 30 cm from the end. Open the stems to form an X. Lay the stem on the shorter end, press up a little to create pressure, and push the other two ends of the bamboo into the ground. Firmly tamp the soil all around.
Grow Banana Plants Step 17

Step 7. Take care of your banana trees during the winter

If the temperature during the winter drops too low for your bananas, there are a number of ways you can help them resist.

  • Cover the stem with a blanket or soil. If there are no frosts and the plant is still small, this could be suitable protection until the temperatures rise again and the plant begins to grow again.
  • Bring the plant inside. Dig up the whole banana, cut the leaves and store it in damp sand in a warm room. Do not water it or put fertilizer, the plant will go dormant until you replant it outside.
  • Grow the plant indoors. You will need a very large pot with drainage holes. If you don't want your banana tree to get too big for the pot, you should stop or decrease the fertilizer you use.
  • Collect pieces of the plant for later. If the frosts or cold killed your banana tree, there's a good chance the suckers and corm are still usable. Cut them out from the rest of the dead plant and store them in individual pots until you want to replant them outside.

Part 4 of 4: Caring for and harvesting the fruits

Grow Banana Plants Step 18

Step 1. Wait for the purple flower to open

A normal banana will flower after 6-7 months under ideal conditions, but it can last up to a year depending on the climate.

  • Never cut the leaves that are around the flowers, because they protect them from the sun.
  • Do not confuse them with bush top disease. Refer to the tips below.
Grow Banana Plants Step 19

Step 2. Wait for the petals to withdraw and reveal the bunch of bananas

It should take 2 months or more. Each bunch is also called a hand and each banana is a finger.

Grow Banana Plants Step 20

Step 3. Once you see the diets, cut out the excess parts

The remaining flower bud and the small bunches of bananas are the male, sterile parts of the plant. The bunch should wilt on its own, but you will allow the plant to put more energy into growing the fruit by removing the flower bud.

  • The male part of the flower is called the banana heart. Some varieties of bananas produce edible flowers that are very popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, but not all flowers are edible.
  • Use a stake to support the plant if it is pulled down by the weight of the bunch.
Grow Banana Plants Step 21

Step 4. Cover the diet with a plastic bag

This will protect the fruit from insects and other dangers, but it must be open at both ends to allow adequate passage of air and water.

Tie the plastic bag with thin rope several inches away from the first bunch

Grow Banana Plants Step 22

Step 5. Harvest the bananas when the flowers or plant die off

The flower at the end of each banana will dry out and be easy to remove or the banana will lose most of its leaves. Now is the right time to reap the rewards.

  • Cut a notch in the trunk, halfway down, on the side opposite the bunch.
  • Let the tree bend carefully and cut out the bunch.
  • The fruit will ripen quickly once you harvest it, which is why you should harvest some ahead of time before cutting up the whole bunch so that you don't have to throw out the excess fruit that you weren't able to consume..
Grow Banana Plants Step 23

Step 6. Cut the stem of the tree and prepare the next sucker

Remove the top half of the banana stem after you have harvested the fruits. Remove all the suckers as you did while caring for the plant.

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