Name: banana (Musa species and cultivars)
Plant type: perennial growing from a large rhizome.
Height: 5+ metres but some home and garden varieties from 2–4 metres
Foliage: very large, 2 metres long by 50+cm wide. Light, lush green, prominent veins and mid-rib.
Climate: tropical, sub-tropical, warm temperate and warm micro-climates in cool temperate. Look for cool season varieties in colder climates.
Soil: deep, rich with reliable moisture. Can adapt to virtually all but sandy soil.
Position: full-sun, protected from winds.
Flowering and fruiting: varies with variety and location.
Feeding: requires regular feeding with both controlled release fertiliser and organic matter such as well-composted manures.
Watering: must have reliable moisture but won't tolerate waterlogging.
Banana palms are well known for the following characteristics:
Banana palms are excellent fruiting plants for the home garden and their attractive foliage gives your garden a definitely tropical feel. In suitable climates they produce delicious fruit that is high in vitamins and minerals.
Banana palms are considered a tropical and sub-tropical plant, however they can grow in protected micro-climates in warm temperate and even cool temperate zones. In cooler areas, look out for cold climate bananas, which have been specially selected for growing outside traditional climate zones.
For best flowering and fruit development, plant in a position that will receive full sun.
In cooler areas try to find a sheltered location near a northerly facing wall. In these climates, growth will all but stop when temperatures drop below around 15°C. Once it warms up again they'll kick back in. Frost will damage leaves but they will reshoot come spring. Note that temperatures below –4°C will likely kill plants.
Ideally soil should be open, free-draining, rich and reliably moist however bananas will tolerate virtually any sort of soil except sandy or boggy.
Keep the following in mind when planting a banana palm:
Follow these tips and your banana palm will thrive:
Around the stem of plants you'll see pups or suckers start to appear. These need to be pruned off as they can sap energy from the main stem. Leave at least one strong sucker per plant as a banana will die once it has fruited, and the pup you retain then becomes the new plant. Excess suckers should be carefully removed.
There are two significant diseases of bananas that growers should be on the lookout for: banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) and Panama disease tropical race 4 (PDTR4).
If you are concerned that you have either of these diseases in your banana plants, contact your local biosecurity regulator for further advice.
Banana palms may also suffer from root rot if the soil is too wet.
Pineapple: easy to grow and will fruit even in warm temperate regions.
Lychee: superb evergreen shade trees with deliciously aromatic fruit.
Noni fruit: a tropical superfood with supposed magical powers.
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