Name: banana (Musa species and cultivars).
Plant type: perennial growing from a large rhizome.
Height: 5+ metres but 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.
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 trees are well known for the following characteristics:
Banana trees are an excellent fruiting plant for the home garden, make a great landscape backdrop plant and are an attractive foliage plant.
Bananas are considered as a tropical and sub-tropical plant, however, they can grow in protected micro-climates in warm temperate and even cool temperate 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 tree:
Follow these tips and your banana tree will thrive:
Bananas today are largely sterile so propagation is generally conducted by division. 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.
You do want to leave at least one strong sucker per plant as a banana will die once it has fruited, the pup you retained then becomes the new plant.
Excess suckers can be carefully removed and replanted into pots or in your garden to establish new plants.
Which suckers to choose? Professional growers say that the “sword suckers”, these have very narrow leaves, tend to make the best plants.
The biggest problems with banana trees come from wildlife taking the fruit, which can be managed using nets. They may suffer from root rot if the soil is too wet.
If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
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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