Banana trees can add a tropical flair to any area. These plants are very popular and thrive best in warm, humid areas - generally zones 8-9, where the temperature is over 85 degrees and the humidity is 50% or more. However, these hardy, tropical fruit trees can be successfully grown north of these zones with a little more work and care, especially as container plants.
Here's some information to help you choose a type of tree and learn how to grow it:
- First, determine your available space for growing the banana trees. Choose a type of tree that will fit best in your space. Should you purchase short, stocky trees or tall, lanky ones?
Then, decide if you want your tree to bear edible fruit, or if it should just be ornamental. If you have decided on one with edible fruit, then you must decide what type of fruit you would like: dessert fruit or bananas meant for cooking.
- Tall ornamental banana trees include Bordelon, Itinerans Var Gigantea, Maurelli, Monkey Fingers, Japanese Fiber and Sekkimensis.
- Short ornamental bananas include Blood and Chinese Yellow.
- Cavendish Dwarf is a short tree that produes edible fruit.
- Tall, edible banana trees are Double, Goldfinger, Ice Cream, Iholene Red, Apple, Mysore, Orinoco, Rajapuri, Rose, Saba, Thousand Fingers, Valery and Williams Hybrid.
- Cooking bananas include African Rhino Horn, Ele Ele and Hua Moa.
- If possible, plan a trip to a well-established nursery, preferably one that specializes in fruit trees, to make your purchase.
- Choose a tree that is between 12 and 14 inches high and free from any diseases or insects.
After choosing the type of tree that is perfect for you, and the threat of frost has passed, it is time to plant it following these simple steps:
- Before planting trees, decide on the perfect location, if you haven't already. This place should have good drainage, should be protected from the wind and cold weather and should have no more than 30% shade.
- Dig a planting hole measuring three feet wide by four feet deep.
- Measure the height of the pot currently holding the tree.
- Using the measurement above, replace the soil in the planting hole with organic matter such as peat moss, potting soil, compost, manure, kitchen scraps and/or pine bark mulch mixed 50/50 with the soil that has been previously removed.
- Carefully remove the tree from its pot and loosen the root ball.
- Gently place the tree with its loosened root ball into the prepared planting hole.
- The soil should be replaced at the same level over the tree as it was in the pot, or maybe a little higher than that.
- Fill the remaining space around the tree in the planting hole with the remaining organic matter and soil mixture.
- Next, gently pack down the organic matter and soil mixture.
- Water the newly planted tree to settle the roots and eliminate any air pockets that may have formed in the disturbed soil.
- After watering, fertilize with half a cup of slow-release, balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 with micronutrients.
If you follow these steps for choosing and planting the perfect banana tree, and follow general care tips, you should have a beautiful addition to your landscape in no time. After you start growing bananas you can harvest them for any number of delicious recipes.