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Botanical Name: Musa spp.
Family: Musaceae

Habit: Large growing, tender perennial with edible fruit. Very large leaves, thick stems, spreads by suckers to form large clumps. Banana clusters will set and produce fruit in zones 9 - 11. Spread: 5-10 feet. Planting spacing: 5-10 feet. Height: 5-20 feet (some even taller).

Culture: Bananas do well in full sun in most any well drained soil. Nothing special is needed if planted in healthy, well-drained soils. The leaves may be trimmed off at transplanting, or the top may be cut off 1 to 2 feet above ground, but this really is not necessary. Container-grown banana plants are simply transplanted without trimming. Use the basic organic program. Bananas require good watering and fertilization. Some suckers may be cut off at or below ground if the clump gets too large for the area. Few pests cause extensive damage to bananas. The most common problem is tattering of the leaves due to wind. Lower leaves that hang down the trunk can be cut off if desired.

Don’t let the roots stay too wet in the winter or they will rot. Bananas need approximately 15 months above 28° to bear fruit. Planting Dates: Spring through fall. Troubles and Solutions: Freeze damage and no fruit production zones 8 and lower. Planting Method: Divisions or transplants. Propagation of bananas is by suckers, which are produced profusely at the base of each plant. Preferred sucker size for transplanting is 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Harvest and Storage: Harvest the fruit whenever and if ever ready. To store the plant for the winter in zone 8 or colder, cut the top off and throw into the compost pile after the first light freeze. Cover the stumps with a thick layer of mulch to protect the roots from winter temperatures. The fruit stem normally requires 3 to 4 months to mature following its appearance. However, do not expect the bananas to turn yellow on the stalk. Maturity is achieved when the individual bananas become full and rounded, after which they can be cut and hung or placed in a warm area to ripen to good eating quality. Once a stalk of bananas begins to ripen, the entire stalk will ripen in a few days.

Notes: Bananas can be brought into production in greenhouses. If you have chickens, feed them the discarded banana leaves. They love em! After the first frost, bananas, elephant ears, hoja santa and other large leaf perennials should be cut off leaving 2-3" stump. Then cover the stump with shredded much. Unless the roots stay too wet during the winter from frequent rains or poor drainage, the plants will be back next spring to once again put on a show. Some gardeners put a piece of old carpet over the stump and the mulch on top of that if they concerned about the moisture rooting the crown of the plants.

Health benefits: The health benefits of the banana are numerous. They are high in potassium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure, and fiber, which helps prevent heart disease. Unripe bananas are green. Not only are they safe to eat they have more health benefits than the riper yellow banana. However, they also have some drawbacks that might make the yellow banana a better choice.

Bananas are picked when they are only 75 percent ripe to prevent them from splitting open during shipping. As bananas ripen they gives off ethylene gas. This gas is such a powerful component of the ripening process that it can be used to ripen other produce, such as tomatoes, if placed in a sealed container with bananas.

Green bananas are higher in starch than yellow bananas. Yellow bananas, by contrast, are higher in natural sugars such as sucrose, glucose and fructose. This is because the ripening process converts the banana's starch into sugar. The type of starch contained in green bananas is resistant starch, which makes you feel fuller and helps you burn fat more quickly. Drawbacks of green bananas include stronger taste and waxy texture. Green bananas contain proteins that limit the body's ability to digest complex carbohydrates.


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