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Banana trees are some of the more popular types of tropical plants that bring color to gardens worldwide if you’re thinking about growing one in your yard or indoors, here’s how to care for a banana tree.
Banana tree: care guide
Bananas grow on large herbaceous plants known as an inflorescence, which comprises many smaller flowering structures attached to a stem. More specifically, a banana tree comprises a trunk called a pseudostem, and the leaves that sprout from it are called a crown.
In their appearance and strength, banana trees grow from underground rhizomes, similar to ginger roots. When digging around the pseudostem base, you will come across the rhizomes and corms.
Photo by Severin Candrian on Unsplash
Bananas need full sun and protection from frost, making them perfect for tropical gardens, but they can also grow indoors. You’ll want to give your banana tree at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily because this plant cannot thrive in the shade or lower light conditions.
If your yard gets frost and you want to keep the plant growing year-round, it’s advised that you plant it in a container and move it indoors during the colder months. Your banana tree must be given ample space around it to grow as well. This means at least six feet from other plants and structures.
Banana trees grow best in a well-draining soil mix rich with organic matter. If your yard doesn’t have sandy or swampy areas, you can add sand to the top layer of soil for better drainage. You need to fertilize the plant at least once every 3 months from spring through summer and apply a thick mulch layer to the soil around it.
Banana trees are susceptible to many pests, so it is important to keep them well-protected. Always keep the area around your plant free of fallen fruits and leaves because these spots will attract beetles, ants, termites, snails, slugs, and other insects.
When the leaves on your banana tree begin to wilt and fall off, it shows that the plant is not getting adequate water or sunlight. If you’re noticing yellowing leaves somewhere on the plant, then it’s likely that you’re under-watering. While bananas like moist soil most of the time, they won’t survive in soggy soil that’s too wet. Make sure to keep the top inch of soil dry before watering your plant again.
If you’re noticing yellowing leaves at the bottom of the plant, it could be because there is not enough water in the soil, or your pot has drainage holes that are clogged with dirt. You should also check if the bottom of the pseudostem and corms have black, rotten areas because it could mean that your plant is getting too much water.
If you notice dried-up leaves or leaf edges with brown patches or holes, then you might be giving your tree too much fertilizer. When in doubt, always conduct a soil test to get more information on your plant’s needs.
If you’re looking for banana tree care tips, then it’s important to know that these plants do flower in addition to producing fruit. When the pseudostem begins to lean over with green flowers growing from the top, it’s a sign that this growth stage has begun. You should also know that the flowers will not appear much in the winter months when the plant is kept indoors.
After all of the flowers on your banana tree have died, they will be replaced with green fruits called hands or fingers. You can cut these off to harvest for food, but it’s important to know that you’ll need at least three bananas for this process.
If you want your banana tree to produce fruit, then you’ll have to let it flower. Remove any leaves shading the plant’s flowers to receive full sun. You should also know that your flowers will not be very noticeable during the winter months if the plant is kept indoors.
Bananas can grow in most conditions and soil types, so there are plenty of varieties to choose from. While all banana trees produce edible fruit, most varieties need a hot tropical climate to grow properly.
Some of the most popular varieties that grow best outdoors or indoors during colder months include:
Also known as the Wild Plantain, this variety is native to tropical regions in both China and Malaysia. You will need one male plant to produce fruit because it only contains small succulent fruit.
Also referred to as the Giant Plantain, this variety is mostly grown in Bangladesh for its edible fruit. While it does grow well in tropical regions, you can plant this variety indoors during the winter months.
This is a Japanese variety that can be grown outside in frost-free climates. It is the hardiest of all bananas, so it’s often used for cooking or ornamental purposes throughout Asia.
This is an unusual banana tree with green flowers and fruit edible when cooked. You should plant at least three banana trees in your garden to produce healthy fruit.
Bananas are fast-growing plants that require constant pruning to stay healthy and produce fruit. Most bananas will flower after about two years, but they can be harvested once the stalk has turned yellow. If you’re looking for banana tree care tips, it’s important to know that they should be pruned right after the harvest.
Pruning is also necessary for most banana trees grown indoors or in colder climates during the winter months. These plants will grow back the following spring with new shoots at the center of each pseudostem with proper care.
When your banana tree is dying, you can propagate the plant and grow a new one. This process will require cutting back the pseudostem of an adult banana tree down to around 12 inches tall and planting it in loose, well-draining soil. It’s best to let this piece sit for at least 6 months before digging it up and planting it in its permanent location.
Banana trees are not picky when it comes to potting. You should choose a container at least 16 inches in diameter and fill it with loose, well-draining soil. Adding sand will help the soil drain more efficiently. It’s important to note that banana trees grow much faster when pot-bound, so you should only report once every few years.
6. Common Pests & Diseases
Banana trees are not known for having many pests and diseases, but several types of fungi and nematodes can infect them if their soil is too wet or the plant is kept in shady locations. You should also know that slugs, snails, and other pests can easily take up residence in the folds of your tree’s leaves if they are not frequently inspected.
7. Winter care
If you live in cooler climatic areas where temperatures rarely get above 70 degrees F (21 degrees C), then you should bring your banana tree indoors or move it to an unheated greenhouse or sunroom. To ensure that your plant doesn’t start to rot, reduce watering and avoid fertilizing until the winter months are over.
8. Are banana trees easy to care for?
Banana trees may not be as popular as other fruit plants like citrus and avocado trees, but they’re easier to care for than many people think. The only exception is during the winter months when the plant needs to be grown indoors or in a greenhouse to protect it from frosty conditions. If you want fruit, you should let your banana tree flower by removing any leaves that are shading flowers beginning in late summer.
9. How tall do dwarf banana trees grow?
Banana trees grow very tall, but dwarf varieties only reach 4-5 feet in height. This means that you can grow them in containers or even indoors if they get enough sunlight. It’s also important to note that while dwarf bananas bear fruit, these fruits are typically smaller than regular ones and take longer to mature.
10. Can a banana tree grow indoors?
Bananas are tropical plants that require warm temperatures to produce fruit, so you should only try growing one inside if you live in a very warm or tropical climate. If it’s too cold outside, then you can still enjoy the foliage by bringing your plant into the sunroom during the winter months.