Banana Planting and Care
Bananas are unlike other fruit trees because they are not actually trees, they are very large BUNCHING GRASSES. Planting a banana tree is actually planting a single stalk of a grass, that will then form into a clump of stalks of grass.
This makes bananas unique in a few ways:
- Bananas stalks don't need to be pruned
- Once a banana stalk has produced fruit, the stalk dies and is replaced by new stalks
- Bananas can be easily divided to create new clumps
#1 Plant in the right season
Banana plants are at most high risk for critical damage in the winter when temperatures reach nearly freezing. Plant bananas as early as you can during your regions warm season to give them the longest possible warm weather window to get established. For California residents, this window starts around March. The latest you will likely want to plant is July.
#2 Choose a warm location
Banana plants are at most high risk for critical damage in the winter when temperatures reach nearly freezing. Keep subtropicals healthy and surviving through the winter by choosing a warm location in your garden where the ground DOES NOT FREEZE.
Urban and suburban environments have lots of "heat sinks" that will help your bananas warm through the winter. Concrete and asphalt store up heat during the day and release it at night, use this to your advantage. Plant next to a building, next to a concrete or brick wall, next to a concrete patio, next to a driveway or any other large mass of stone-like material.
Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant's root ball. Gently remove the plant from its container, loosen the roots, and place it in the hole. Position the plant at the same depth it was in the container and backfill with soil. Water thoroughly after planting. DO NOT ADD COMPOST TO THE PLANTING HOLE.
#4 Amend the Soil
Bananas prefer highly fertile soil, and soil in most home gardens has been damaged from construction and years of dehydration and sun exposure. Improve soil quality by amending it with organic matter such as compost. Add a 3 inch thick layer of compost in a 5 foot diameter around your newly planted banana.
Apply a 3 inch thick layer of wood chip mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Keep the mulch away from the plant's stem to prevent rot.
Water newly planted bananas deeply to establish their roots. Water regularly to maintain soil moisture.
Maintain consistent soil moisture by watering bananas regularly, especially during dry spells. You can water as often as every day during the hot summer months.
Remove dead or damaged leaves as needed to promote air circulation and prevent disease.
Harvest bananas when the fruits are fully mature and turn yellow with a slight green tint. Cut the entire bunch from the plant using a sharp knife or pruning shears. Handle harvested bananas with care to prevent bruising and damage.
#4 After Harvest
After harvesting, cut the main stem (pseudostem) down to the ground to encourage new growth. Leave any side shoots (suckers) that emerge to develop into new banana plants for future harvests.