Banana Plant

Growing bananas doesn’t take much effort, but it does require that you simply get a couple of things right once you first get started…

Banana plants offers many benefits:

  1. They make great windbreaks or screens,
  2. they can keep the sun of the recent western side of your house,
  3. they utilize the water and nutrients in waste drains (think washing water or outdoor shower),
  4. the leaves are often fed to horses, cows, and other grazers,
  5. the dried remains of the trunks are often used for weaving baskets and mats.

But once I shop around friends’ gardens then I see some pretty sad looking banana plants growing there. It helps to know what bananas like and dislike if you would like them to be happy!

Banana plants like:

  1. Rich, dark, fertile soils.
  2. Lots of mulch and organic matter. LOTS. Just keep piling it on.
  3. Lots of nitrogen and potassium. (Chicken manure!)
  4. Steady warmth, not too hot and not too cold. (Bananas are sissies when it involves temperatures…)
  5. Steady moisture, within the ground and within the air.
  6. The shelter of other bananas! That’s the foremost overlooked aspect by home growers…
  7. Banana plants dislike:

Strong winds

.Extreme heat or cold.
Being hungry or thirsty.
Being alone and exposed.
More detail on all that below.

Banana Varieties

Cavendish is that the variety that you simply know from the supermarket. If you reside near a banana-growing region, this is often the variability you see within the plantations. it’s a stout plant that produces large heavy bunches.

Lady Fingers are very tall and slender plants and have smaller, sweeter fruit. they’re often grown by gardeners as ornamental plants with the tiny fruit being a bonus.

Plantains are cooking bananas. they’re drier and more starchy. you employ them green such as you would use potatoes, and that they taste similar.
80% of all bananas grown within the world are plantain varieties! they’re a crucial staple food in many tropical countries.

There are many other exotic varieties, but those above are the foremost popular and most ordinarily grown.

What I describe below and most of the photographs on this page ask Cavendish bananas but the recommendation applies to all or any other varieties also .

How Do Bananas Grow?

Bananas aren’t real trees, not even palm trees, albeit they’re often called banana palms. Bananas are perennial herbs.
(Gingers, heliconias, and bird-of-paradise flowers are distant relatives of bananas. they’re within the same order, Zingiberales.)

Banana trunks consists of all the leaf stalks wrapped around one another . New leaves start growing inside, below the bottom . They push up through the center and emerge from the centre of the crown. So does the flower, which finally turns into a bunch of bananas.

Here may be a picture series showing how the flower looks initiallyand the way the bananas appear and curl towards the sunshine.

Those pictures were appropriated the course of a couple of days. you’ll just about watch this happen. But now it’ll take another two months approximately counting on the temperature, for the fruit to fill out and eventually ripen.

A banana plant takes about 9 months to get older and produce a bunch of bananas. Then the mother plant dies. But round the base of it are many suckers or pups, little baby plants.

At the bottom of a banana plant, under the bottom may be a big rhizome called the corm.

The rhizome has many growing points and people become new suckers/pups. The suckers are often began and transplanted, and one or two are often left in position to exchange the mother plant.

Great, so now you recognize what to try to to once you’ve got bananas growing in your garden, but how does one start?

How To start Growing Bananas

First, you would like to form sure that you simply can actually grow bananas where you’re.

You need a tropical or warm subtropical climate. Bananas can handle extreme heat (if they need enough water), but they don’t love it they will handle cool weather for a brief while, but they don’t like that either. Below 14°C (57°F) they only stop growing.

If the temperatures drop any lower the fruit suffers, the skin turns greyish and therefore the leaves can turn yellow. Frost kills the plant above ground, but the corm can survive and should re-shoot.

The ideal temperature range for banana growing is around 26-30°C (78-86°F).

You need tons of water to grow bananas. the large soft leaves evaporate tons and you’ve got to stay up the availability . Bananas also need high humidity to be happy.

Where I live the commercial banana growers water their plants two or 3 times each day with sprinklers to stay up the humidity within the banana plantation!

You need very rich soil. If you don’t have good soil to start out with, make some. Incorporate lots and much of compost and many of 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 would like room so you’ll plant enough of them together. Bananas need shelter from wind. Growing many banana plants together increases the humidity within the middle, evens out temperature changes a touch , and it shades and cools the trunks. You don’t want to cook the flower that’s forming within the middle…

If you get an opportunity check out a billboard banana plantation somewhere. the surface rows, especially the western side, always look sad. the simplest bananas grow on the within .

You should plant bananas in blocks or clumps, not single rows and definitely not single plants. If you’ve got little or no room you’ll grow a couple of banana plants together and grow something else on the surface to guard them. But you are doing got to give them that sheltered jungle environment if you would like them to be happy.

(Now, please don’t send me any longer emails letting me know that you simply are successfully growing a solitary banana plant during a tub on your patio or in your greenhouse or wherever. this is often a permaculture site. We aren’t 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 assist you grow it only for fun and under sub-optimal conditions also .)

Planting Bananas

You can not grow the standard bananas from seeds. These banana plants don’t produce viable seeds like wild bananas do.

The best way is to start out with the above mentioned suckers or pups. Know someone who grows bananas? ask them. Every banana plant produces tons more suckers than you would like , so people usually have plenty to offer 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 therefore the first banana bunch are going to be smaller.

Cut the sucker from the most banana plant with a pointy shovel. Cut downwards between the mature plant and therefore the sucker. you’ve got to chop through the corm. It’s tough .

Make sure you get an honest chunk of corm and lots of roots with it. Chop the highest off the sucker to scale back evaporation while you progress it and while it settles into its new home.
Remember, the growing point is at rock bottom of a banana plant. you’ll decapitate the sucker. it’ll grow back.

Another option is to obtain a touch of the rhizome and chop it into bits. equally that has an eye fixed are often planted and can 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 5 metres between them.

The spacing depends on your layout. My bananas grow during a block of several double rows. Within the double rows the spacing is 2 to 3 metres, now with two plants in each position, suckers of the initial plant. My double rows are four to 5 metres apart.

even have a banana revolve around an outside shower with two metres at the foremost between individual plants, and that they are growing during a haphazard way.
If you’ve got just one clump of a couple of banana plants you’ll put them even closer together.

Keep your banana plants moist but not too wet within the youth or they’ll rot. They don’t have leaves yet to evaporate water, in order that they don’t need tons of it.

Maintaining Your Banana Patch

The most common explanation for death for bananas is lack of water.
The most common cause for not getting fruit is starvation.
Banana plants pass in strong winds.

Protect them and feed them and water them and every one are going to be well. aside from that bananas don’t need much maintenance.

Just remove any dead leaves and hamper the dead plants every now then .

You get bigger fruit if you remove all unwanted suckers, only keeping the simplest one.
After the initial planting you’ll leave two on healthy, vigorous plants. Beyond that it’s better to stay one sucker per plant on the average . Otherwise your patch will become too crowded.

The best suckers are those with the tiny , spear shaped leaves, NOT the beautiful ones with the large round leaves!

Why? A sucker that’s still fed by the mother plant doesn’t got to do much photosynthesis, so it doesn’t got to produce big leaves.

And a sucker that’s well taken care of by the mother plant will produce better fruit and be stronger than one that had to struggle on its own.

A mature plantation is just about self mulching. Just throw all the leaves and old trunks etc. back under the plants. you’ll also grow other plants within the understory to supply more mulch. (I use cassava, sweet potato and crotolaria).

You just got to sprinkle on some fertiliser every now then to exchange what you took out of the system once you took the bananas. Bananas are high in potassium, so ideally the fertiliser should be, too. Keep the fertiliser on the brink of the trunk as bananas don’t have big root systems.

Growing Banana Fruit

You may see your first flower emerge after about six months, counting on the weather. Leave the leaves around it, especially the one protecting the highest 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 may be a “finger”.

You may get anything between four to a dozen or more full hands. Then, under subsequent 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’ll eventually reach the bottom.

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.

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 anymore. 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!

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