Numerous types and variations of banana and plantain trees exist. Even though these tropical fruiting plants are usually referred to as trees, they are essentially herbaceous plants with no wooden stems. They have fleshy, tall stalks from which enormous, elongated, bright green leaves develop. Flowers normally bloom in the spring, followed by thick, elongated green or yellow fruit.
Regardless of the size of your yard or residence, there is a banana tree that will fit. In addition, given sufficient light, they make excellent houseplants, although they normally do not bear fruit inside. Generally speaking, banana trees have a rapid growth rate and should be planted in the spring.
|Common Names||Banana tree, plantain tree|
|Botanical Name||Musa spp.|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||2–30 ft. tall, 1–15 ft. wide (varies widely by species)|
|Soil Type||Loamy, well-drained|
|Flower Color||White, purple, orange|
|Hardiness Zones||9–11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Asia, Africa, Australia|
Banana Tree Care
While the majority of species thrive in warm areas, there are a few banana trees that are fairly cold-resistant. If you’re planting the banana tree outside, selecting the proper planting location is essential for making upkeep simple. This plant is highly susceptible to leaf damage from severe winds and should be grown in a protected place. Prepare the planting area by incorporating compost into the soil. And ensure that you have adequate space for the height and spread of your species.
During the growing season (spring to fall), banana plants are voracious consumers of water. Maintaining enough soil moisture may necessitate frequent watering, especially during warm weather. Additionally, the plants will require consistent fertilizing throughout the growing season. In late summer, bananas develop in a cluster known as a hand. When the fruit is still green but has begun to swell, it can be removed from the stalk and stored in a cool, dry location to finish ripening.
Most banana plants prefer full sun, which means at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. Some cultivars, however, scorch readily and perform best in partial shade.
These plants prefer organically rich, deep soil with good drainage and a pH that is somewhat acidic. They have a low tolerance for salt in the soil.
Banana trees are tropical and grow in rainforests, thus they require a lot of water and moisture in the air. They thrive when planted in groupings that are quite close together, as this helps the leaves retain moisture. Water on a regular basis to keep the soil equally moist but not saturated. Overwatering, which can promote root rot, should be avoided.
Related: Using Banana Water as Fertilizer: Why and How?
Temperature and Humidity
These plants thrive in warm, humid environments but dislike temperature extremes. Even the most durable, cold-tolerant banana tree types demand temperatures ranging from 75 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold temperatures and dry circumstances can cause plants to die back quickly. Mist the leaves on a daily basis to increase humidity.
Banana trees are voracious eaters. Throughout the growing season, apply a balanced fertilizer as directed on the label. Additionally, add compost to the soil once a year to increase the level of organic matter.
Types of Banana Trees
Banana trees come in over 70 different kinds and types, including:
- Musa acuminata: This species may grow to be 12 to 20 feet tall and is popular for its attractive foliage due to its paddle-shaped leaves that can grow to be 6 to 10 inches long.
- Musa ornata: Also known as the flowering banana, this species is mostly raised for its decorative appeal; its little fruit is not typically consumed.
- Musa basjoo: Also known as the Japanese banana, this species has a high cold tolerance and can grow to be 6 to 14 feet tall.
Prune the banana tree so that there is only one main stem before it bears fruit. After six to eight months of growth, remove one sucker (small shoot at the base of the stem). In the following growth season, this plant will take the place of the main stem. After removing the fruit, trim the main stem to 2.5 feet. In a few weeks, remove the rest of the stem, leaving the replacement sucker intact.
Propagating Banana Trees
Division is the most effective technique of dissemination. To divide banana plants, use a pointed spade to detach the suckers from the rhizome (horizontal subterranean stem). Wait till the suckers are at least 3 feet tall and have their own roots before doing this. Allow the surface of the rhizome section to dry for a day or more after separating a sucker from the parent plant. It will be ready for transplanting at this point in any suitable place.
Related: Can you Drink Water From a Cactus?
Potting and Repotting Banana Trees
Banana trees can thrive in pots, but for best growth, they will need at least a 15-gallon pot. Use a loose, organically rich potting mix and make sure the pot has drainage holes. One advantage of potting your banana tree is that you will be able to move it inside to protect it from cold and inclement weather. Potted banana trees, on the other hand, have higher watering and feeding requirements since they use up what is available in their limited soil faster than banana trees grown in the ground. Furthermore, they are unlikely to attain their full size and may not yield fruit. Nonetheless, many individuals favor them for beautiful foliage. Every three years, divide and repot container banana trees, detaching any suckers from the parent plant.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Banana tree owners must be aware of the various pests and illnesses that might affect their trees. The following are examples of pests:
- Aphids: These pests cause curled and shriveled foliage as well as the transmission of other diseases that harm any fruit produced.
- Black weevils: If you notice jelly-like sap pouring from the plant, you may have black weevils, which are treatable with pesticides.
- Nematodes: The banana tree’s most prevalent pest, causing the plant and fruit to decay.
- Mealybugs and red spider mites are both sap-sucking insects found on banana trees.
- Scarring beetle: This insect infests the plant’s fruit and can be controlled with pesticide.
- Thrips: This pest will discolor and split the plant’s fruit skin.
Many diseases affect banana plants in large orchards and are controlled with commercial fungicides and pesticides. When it comes to indoor potted banana trees, keep an eye out for root rot, leaf-spot disease, wilt, and powdery mildew.
Related: 15 Cute Succulents That Remain Small
Are banana trees easy to maintain?
To thrive, a banana tree requires ideal conditions (either indoors or outdoors). Giving your banana tree enough water and light is essential for its growth.
How tall are dwarf banana trees?
Because a banana tree can get rather large, consider the dwarf Cavendish banana, which grows 8 to 10 feet tall.
Is it possible to cultivate a banana tree indoors?
A banana tree, like the papaya plant, can make an excellent houseplant; but, don’t expect it to produce fruit while indoors. The plant requires tropical conditions outside to yield fruit.