Unlike the seeds that you get from banana fruits, you can take the small shoots or stems from the mother of banana plant and grow them whenever you want.
Banana tree is a fruit-bearing, tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, parts of India, and parts of northern Australia. They will also grow quickly in the tropics because of favorable temperatures and humidity. However, how to grow a banana tree fast and easy in other climates? Is it possible?
Thankfully, it is! We will cover tips and tricks to make them thrive in subtropical climates. Not only that, those who have difficulty or problems in growing bananas in tropical areas can also follow our complete guide here. The key is to understand what the banana tree needs. Without any further ado, let’s jump into the topic!
Table of Contents
- Are Banana Trees Easy to Grow?
- Which Banana Tree is Best?
- The Best Place to Grow Banana Plant
- The Stages of Banana Growth
- Growing Banana Plants
- How Much Water Does a Banana Leaf Tree Need?
- What Kind of Fertilizer Do Banana Trees Like?
- How Long Does It Take for A Banana Tree to Bear Fruit?
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are Banana Trees Easy to Grow?
Banana plants are pretty easy to grow. In fact, they only need around 9-12 months to reach their full potential: bearing fruit and going 20-40 feet tall! Of course, it comes with a better understanding of what they need. As tropical plants, banana trees love the full sun. Thus, it is vital to growing them on the site with at least 8 hours of sunlight exposure.
Also, it needs a lot of water. Nonetheless, you can’t let the roots drown in the water for too long. Otherwise, they will rot, resulting in yellow leaves and mushy stems. Moreover, they don’t require fertilizer as long as you can ensure fertile soil. But if you want to pamper your plant, summer is the best time to add fertilizer to the roots.
Another reason the banana tree is easy to care for and grow is it can quickly regrow from the suckers. Sucker is a part of the asexual reproduction of banana trees. It usually rises underground or appears next to the parent plant. After the plant bears fruits, the stem will die soon after. Then, the sucker will take its role to grow into a new plant. So, you pretty much don’t need to propagate it. Just let it grow every year like a perennial does.
Which Banana Tree is Best?
For those who live in cold climates, you can grow banana trees like in tropical regions! Thanks to scientists, they can produce Musa bajoo varieties that are cold-hardy and able to adapt to low temperatures. What’s even more remarkable, this banana tree is not only serving as a producer of banana fruits. It also has the most attractive appearance compared to other varieties.
To get the best performance, you must prepare a location with fertile, well-drained soil, like in its native habitat. It also requires weekly watering, around 1-1.5 inches of water. Although lack of water doesn’t make it wilt instantly, the tree will slowly produce small bananas instead. In addition, provide shelter from the harsh wind as it can rip the beautiful leaves apart, leaving the plant with a messy appeal.
In addition to the cold-hardy variety, you can also try to grow the most popular one, Cavendish. It also becomes the world’s favorite banana that can easily be found in the market. In 2014, scientists discovered that the Cavendish RGA2-3 is a relatively disease-free variety compared to other types of banana plants.
Moreover, the variety is obtained from a genetic modification that allows farmers to produce 30% higher yields with less issues. Like the previously discussed banana tree variety, Cavendish needs lots of water and sun exposure. So, choosing a planting location is essential.
The Best Place to Grow Banana Plant
Planting location is one of the most critical factors to ensure your banana tree thrives. As full sun plants’ lovers, they generally require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight exposure with moisture 50% or higher better. Regarding the soil, most banana plants will grow best on deep, fertile, moist, and well-draining soils.
Despite not being fussy about the soil types, loamy clay soil with good drainage will give you excellent performance and fruits. In addition, it also prefers slightly acidic soil with an average pH of around 6.5-7.0. Don’t make the soil too acidic, as it can make the banana plant prone to Panama disease.
Furthermore, choosing the right variety according to your climate is vital. For the colder climates, we suggest Musa bajoo. Meanwhile, you can grow other types in tropical areas with warm temperatures and high moisture.
The Stages of Banana Growth
Like other plants, banana trees also go through several phases of growth to reach its maturity and eventually fruiting. They take approximately 9-12 months to fully develop which is divided into three stages as follows:
1. Vegetative Growth
The first stage is vegetative growth. Generally, your banana tree will take around six months to finish this stage. At this development, the sucker or seeds will grow a false stem or pseudostem for the initial 15 months. But mind you, these must be frost-free months as cold temperatures will slow their growth. Particularly for the non cold-hardy varieties.
Depending on the varieties, they will reach their mature height, about 20-40 feet tall. After this, they grew to their full size within six months in the following years. Besides the stem, the leaves plant also extends from the banana leaf midrib.
In addition, you must give intensive care during the vegetative growth as it is susceptible to bacterial and viral diseases such as Mosaic virus and leaf spot. Also, provide regular watering, especially when they grow in the hot summer month.
2. Flowering Stage
If you start planting banana plants in cold climates, you will need to wait for 18 months until they are ready to bloom. Lucky for those who grow them in tropical areas, the banana tree will produce big purple flowers at only 9 or 10 months old. The first flowers that appear are females, completely wrapped in purple bracts with layers of hands.
Furthermore, new bracts will shed every day. And as they shed, the male hands will form during the flowering stage. It will go on as they mature and enter the fruiting stage. Unlike other fruiting plants, bananas don’t need pollination to produce fruits. They will bear fruits no matter what every year!
3. Fruiting Development
Now, let’s talk about the most long-awaited part, fruit production! After the flowers bloom, they need about three months to fully develop into fruits. The banana trees commonly have around 6 to 15 hands per stalk. These hands will turn into fruits, bearing about 10 to 20 fruits. So, you will have approximately 200 bananas in one tree, even more!
That said, it’s not without reason that banana fruits are always on supermarket shelves despite the seasons. They can grow in tropical and subtropical countries with different seasons. Hence, the stock will be abundant throughout the year.
Growing Banana Plants
If you are interested in growing bananas, know that bananas can be propagated through seeds and stems (suckers). Follow the guides below to know step-by-step how to grow banana plants that suit you best!
1. How to Grow Banana Tree Without Seed (from stem or sucker)
Growing banana plants from suckers or stems is actually easier. Unlike the seeds removed from the fruits, you can take the small shoots from the mother plant and grow them whenever you want. But how to do it?
- Observe your planting location. Make sure you choose a site with a minimum of 6-8 hours of full sun exposure and fertile, moist, well-drained soil to ensure healthy plants.
- Choose the best suckers. You can remove ones whose height is 6-7 feet (1.8-2.1 meters). Shorter shoots are OK as long as the parent plant is healthy.
- Leave around 1-2 centimeters of the roots. Cut off the rest of the parts as they can increase the risks of diseases.
- Prepare a hole. Dig around a 30 wide x 30 deep cm hole outdoors. You are allowed to make a bigger one, but of course, you will require more space and soil. Don’t forget to remove weeds before digging to prevent nutrient competition during growth.
- Loosely fill it with fertile soil. Don’t add potting mix, as it may not be suitable for your banana tree. However, those intended for cacti will work great as an alternative. Give space around 1.5 inches of the surface to provide good drainage.
- Put the sucker inside the hole. Ensure the leaves stay at the top and the soil cover the roots up to an inch. Add the rest of the soil while firming it with your hands. But remember not to make it too packed to encourage drainage.
- Fertilize the plant monthly during its initial growth. You can use compost or manure to provide additional nutrients.
- Add water after fertilizing. It will help your plant to absorb nutrients better as the water dilutes the fertilizers.
2. How to Grow Banana Tree from Seed
Bananas in the market are mostly without seeds due to genetic modifications. But if you eat one, it means you just consumed the wild variety. And the best part is, you can grow a banana tree from the seeds! Wanna know how?
- Remove the seeds. You can separate the seeds from the flesh or buy the seeds from a local nursery. Choose one that suits you better!
- Soak them in warm water. Warm water will accelerate sprouting. Pour the water into a bowl, then put the seeds in it. You must wait for around 48 hours until the sprout. Change the water when the temperature cools down.
- Prepare a seed tray. To the tray, add potting sandy and loamy soil. Make sure it is fertile and rich in organic matter to provide the sprouts with nutrients as they grow. Als, it is better to use organic compost to mix it with the soil.
- Sow the seeds in the tray. The soil must cover the seeds about ¼ inches from the top.
- Water the soil. You can use spray to make sure it is damp but not too wet. Soggy soil can lead to root rot that will fail the growth.
- Maintain the temperatures. It is better to have a thermometer to track the temperatures. Your banana seeds will need 5 hours of warm temperature where the soil must be at least 60°F. However, it highly relies on the varieties.
- Patience is the key. Seedlings usually take 2-3 weeks. So, don’t be too rushed! Allow the seeds to sprout properly.
How Much Water Does a Banana Leaf Tree Need?
Banana trees are heavy feeders. In addition to requiring fertilizer to grow well (though it is optional), they also love water. Without proper watering, the leaves of bananas can turn yellow before they slowly die. Therefore, it is critical to provide regular watering of at least 1-1.5 inches per week.
During the hot summer months, you may increase the frequency from once a week to 2 or 3 days. But be careful not to overflow them because they are prone to root rot. You can check the soil surface to know when they need water. If it is already dry, then you can offer deep watering.
What Kind of Fertilizer Do Banana Trees Like?
As we mentioned, the banana tree is a heavy feeder. Thus, it requires fertilizer to support its growth. Well, it is optional, but we highly recommend it to stimulate fast-rate growth! Fortunately, they are not picky about the types of fertilizers you can add.
Like others, these perennial plants prefer balanced fertilizers, for example, the 8-10-8 NPK fertilizers. The fertilizer content already includes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are needed during their growth.
Nitrogen will help encourage green, healthy, and lush leaf growth. Meanwhile, potassium ensures health by protecting the plant from diseases as it matures and produces fruits. Also, it will help regulate the water, so your bananas can distribute it better through the plant. In addition, phosphorus will stimulate root growth and fruit production.
To apply the fertilizer, you can create a fertilizer ring by digging ground around the plant. Then, add the fertilizer and mix it with the soil. Next, water the area to dilute the fertilizer and improve nutrient absorption.
How Long Does It Take for A Banana Tree to Bear Fruit?
Generally speaking, banana trees will spend 9-12 months reaching their mature stage. From that point, they will also start producing fruits. Sadly, they will die after fruiting. But as perennials, they can regrow from the corm or suckers, which will emerge near the mother plant. And that’s one of the reasons you can have bananas all year round.
However, it depends on the climate you live in. Bananas will likely slow their growth when the soil temperature drops below 68°F. As a result, the maturation and fruiting stage also takes longer. For example, Musa bajoo (the cold-hardy species) takes 12-24 months to fully develop before fruiting.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How tall does a banana tree get?
Banana trees can grow up to 16-40 feet, depending on their varieties. Dwarf cavendish, for example, will reach its maturity at 16 feet tall. Generally, a banana tree only needs around 9 months to reach such a height.
Do banana trees attract rats?
Not only humans, but rats are attracted to banana trees. They can easily climb on the trees and enjoy the ripe bananas. Besides, the long and broad banana leaves are also a comfy place for rats to take shelter. In addition, the rhizome also drew the mice to stay underground. With that being said, banana trees can also invite snakes!
Should you cut the brown leaves off your banana plant?
If you notice droopy and brown banana leaves, you should cut them off. It is crucial to divert energy to encourage new growth. You also need to prune them when you notice wilt and dry leaves with discoloration as it may be signs of disease infection.
Why are the leaves on your banana tree turning yellow?
Yellow leaves are a common issue of the banana tree. It can be one of the signs for your plants that they are overwatering due to overwatering. Generally, it happens during rainy weather. This condition is also exacerbated by bad drainage. Hence, it is crucial to ensure they grow on well-drained, loamy soil to thrive and prevent waterlogging.
How many years does a banana tree live?
The banana tree can live up to 6 years. However, they usually die after fruiting, which takes 9-12 months after planting. The green, spongy stem will turn brown before dying. Then, new shoots will grow near or under the dead branch.
What is the lifespan of a banana tree?
A banana tree will bear fruit 9-12 months after the bud grows or planting. Then, it will take another 4-6 months until the fruits reach their full size. After that, the stem will die and regrow from the new shoots that grow underneath. However, the plant itself can last from 6 to 25 years!