Tropical Style And Tasty Fruits? This Is How To Grow Bananas

Gardening has become a popular hobby for many people. From growing your own broccoli, chillies and garlic to even trying your skills on watermelons and sweet potatoes. Why don’t you go a little tropical? According to some horticulturists, bananas are thought to be the world’s first fruit. Their origins can be traced back to Southeast Asia, including the Malaysian, and Indonesian rainforests, where many wild banana varieties are still growing today.

Banana treeOne such variety is Musa. It is the most common banana plant in the UK. While it’s grown for its massive, dramatic leaves, you can still get to see fruits sprout. No matter how big your garden is, there is a banana tree that will fit. And you might know how to plant a tree but can you actually grow one? What are the pros and cons? And does it require a lot of maintenance? This guide aims to answer all of these questions and walk you through the whole process from planting to harvesting

Types of banana that can grow in the UK

Musa basjoo

Banana growers love this one for its massive leaves, which can reach 3 metres in length. In the summer, if the conditions are good, banana flowers will bloom, followed by little fruits that aren’t edible. This variety has been awarded the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society or RHS.

Musa Lasciocarpa

It has conventional banana leaves, but its yellow blossoms in the summer are more spectacular than its Japanese cousin. This banana had been thought to be extinct until it was recovered in the Himalayas. This variety has also received the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

“Rajapuri”

It is a hardy cultivar that thrives in windy conditions. It can also produce fruits that are edible thanks to its lush green foliage. Most of the time, it can reach up to 2.5 m in height.

Dwarf Cavendish

It is a smaller variant with big, slightly reddish leaves. This dwarf banana can grow up to 2m in height. 

“Zebrina”

It is a medium-height cultivar with highly decorative red-striped leaves.

Best conditions and planting site for bananas

Bananas thrive in humid tropical or subtropical climates. A few cultivars may live in cold climates as well. The ideal temperature for banana cultivation is between 25 and 27 degrees Celsius. To create a flower stalk, plants need 10 to 15 months of frost-free weather. When temperatures drop below 11°C, most types stop growing. 

Bananas in crates

Bananas grow best in full sun, but when temperatures are extreme, the leaves and fruit can sunburn and scorch. Check the growing needs of the variety you want to cultivate. Some types do better in partial shade in specific climates. This is why the Musa variety does well with the UK’s climate.

Plant bananas on soil that is rich in compost, loamy, and well-drained. A soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal for bananas. Also, keep in mind that bananas are vulnerable to wind damage, and they can be uprooted and blown over.

Plant bananas in a clump or block of multiple plants for the greatest results. Planting in blocks helps shallow-rooted plants to support one another. Block planting also raises the humidity level. Plants in the centre or blocks produce the most fruit because they are protected from strong winds. A block could consist of five rows of five plants apiece, with each plant spaced around 1.5 metres apart.

How to plant bananas the right way

Follow these instructions to learn more about the journey of planting banana trees:

1. Soak the seeds in lukewarm water

Preparing the seed before planting is one of the most crucial processes in growing bananas from seeds. Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 to 48 hours to help them sprout. The seed’s hard outer shell may loosen at times, allowing some tendrils to poke through. This is quite normal.
Banana seeds come in a variety of sizes, so don’t be concerned if you only find small ones. Planting numerous seeds in the same spot can result in overcrowding, and the plant may not grow at all.

Wild banana varieties

2. Prepare a warm outdoor space

Create the optimum outside location for the banana plant while the seeds are sprouting in the water. This could be a sun-drenched bed or a pot or planter that can be moved indoors and outdoors while remaining warm. To develop the optimum solution for banana development, combine potting soil with 40% organic compost.
If you decide to plant bananas outside, be prepared to transplant them if you live in a cool region. This is a delicate plant that will not survive the harsh winters found in moderate and colder climates. Keep the soil damp throughout the transplant and allow the bananas to acclimatise to the indoor atmosphere.

3. Plant the banana seeds

Bring the seeds to the potting area after soaking them and bury them deep in the soil. Then add extra compost. The soil must be watered to the point where it is wet but not drenched. Bananas love acidic soil, so use a test to measure the pH of your soil and invest in a decent fertiliser to adjust levels as needed.

4. Perform regular follow-ups (Maintain the right conditions)

Keep the soil wet for at least two weeks after planting the banana seeds. This promotes the plant’s growth and ensures that it remains strong and healthy. Consider generating your own organic compost from home garbage such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and even fragments of decomposable paper, as bananas require a lot of potassium to establish healthy root systems. This should be uniformly distributed across the surface of the banana plant‘s space in the garden or in a house pot.

5. Give it time to grow

It takes a long time for bananas to mature. They might take as short as two weeks or as long as two months to shoot through the soil. During this stage, try to keep the soil moist and the temperature around or above 15 degrees Celsius. Consider using a heated propagator if you keep the plant indoors.

Proper care and maintenance of banana plants

Banana plants care is simple. Here’s what you need to take care of:

A woman take care a banana plant

Light

Most varieties of banana plants prefer to grow in full sun, which means at least six hours of direct sunlight. 

Soil

Organically rich soil with adequate drainage and a slightly acidic pH is ideal for banana plants. They usually have a low tolerance for soil salt.

Water

Bananas are tropical plants that grow in rainforests and require a lot of water and moisture in the air to thrive. You need to know the right way to do it! They like being planted in groupings that are near together since this helps to keep the leaves moist. Therefore, water on a regular basis to keep the soil equally moist but not wet. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so avoid it at all costs.

Temperature and humidity

Warm, humid environments are ideal for these plants, but temperature extremes are not. Even the cold-hardy tree types demand regular temperatures of 23 to 25 degrees Celsius. Plants can swiftly die due to cold weather and dry circumstances so mist the leaves on a daily basis to increase humidity.

Fertiliser

Bananas are voracious eaters so you may want to apply a balanced fertiliser on a regular basis during the growing season. To increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, sprinkle compost into it once a year.

What about pruning?

Pruning can help your plant grow and develop more effectively, but only if you do it correctly:

  • Because the banana tree‘s leaves are broad and thick, pruning should be done with a sharp and clean knife or blade. This is due to the fact that it is impossible to remove leaves with your hands. For healthier growth and a more beautiful appearance, you need to remove any yellowing leaves.
  • Remove the outer leaves first, then progress to the inner leaves. The banana tree‘s stalk should not be chopped because it will damage the banana tree‘s growth and productivity. To avoid harming the yield, wait until the plant has flowered before pruning.
  • The main banana tree is often referred to as the mother plant, and you must keep it intact. If there are any offsets emerging away from the main trunk, remove them since they can grow into unwanted new plants.

How to harvest and store bananas

Banana plants bloom six months after they are planted. At the end of the stalks, purple flowers bloom. The flower petals curl back over time, revealing a handful of bananas. So, the fruit will basically be ready to harvest about 14 to 17 months after planting. 

A boy eating a banana Late summer sees the formation of fruit-bearing stalks, which are then dormant for the winter. The fruit will swell up in the early spring and ripen by mid to late spring. Fruiting stalks can form in the early summer and ripen in the autumn. When the bananas are full and still green, cut off the fruiting stalk to harvest it. 

Bananas transform from green to yellow as they mature from the stalk to the bloom. Fruit that has ripened on the tree can be harvested one at a time. However, do not leave ripe fruit on the plant for long periods of time because it attracts rodents. To finish ripening, hang the harvested clusters of banana fruits in a cool, shady spot. You can place them in plastic bags as well.

Common banana plant problems and what to do

Below are common diseases associated with banana plants:

  • Panama Wilt is a fungal disease caused by the Fusarium fungus and may turn the lower green leaves to yellow. Use a fungicide on the plants because infected plants are often killed by Panama wilt.
  • Yellow blotches on leaves can also be caused by bacterial leaf spot. These stains will deepen over time, and ultimately kill the leaf. Make sure the soil is well-drained and that any sick foliage is removed.
  • Anthracnose is a fungus that attacks leaves and edible fruits, leaving them black so we recommend using a fungicide to control it and always make sure that the soil is well-drained afterwards. Crown rot can cause the stalk of banana plants to rot from the soil lineup, so try to mulch the soil to maintain good moisture levels.

Now that you know how to grow a banana tree from seed, you can get started right away and you will soon have a robust, young plant that produces nutritious fruit. Banana trees have become a popular option that will add a tropical touch with their new leaves to every environment. It is something you never want to miss! Plus, it’s a great fruit for making your own ice cream as well! Don’t wait another minute!

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