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How to Grow a Banana Tree
Banana Tree from Twisted Sifter who got it from freefly flunky on Flickr

How to Grow a Banana Tree

After Marsha’s write up on How to grow Bougainvillea this week, our first tropical garden question came in about planting bananas. 🙂 I do not have any fruit trees in my yard, but have a few friends who do and I think it is a great idea to supplement your shopping. One friend who lives up north has Avocado trees in his yard, a great way around the illegal avocado season – haha. To read a funny thread on illegal Mexican avocados click the following link: Ambergriscaye.com Belize forum and look for SF Jeff’s reply to my avocado question. It’s very funny and so true at certain times of the year. My friend Dennis and I have been “secret backroom” avocado shopping on Ambergris Caye a few times.

Planting Banana Trees

Can you tell me the best way to go about planting banana trees in my yard?
I was thinking to go with 4 – 6 ft tall plants to start with.
What type of soil is best?
I have heard that banana trees are not supposed to be planted near plantains and that grey water is ok for them, is this true?

Thanks in advance for your answer.
John

I added my 2 cents at the end of John’s question – how do you tell the difference between banana and plantain trees.

How to Grow a Banana Tree

planting banana treesIn answer to your questions on banana tree care, yes bananas love gray water but not any with much bleach.  Be aware; they will spread on their own and can interfere with any plumbing in the area with their roots. Over the years they will take OVER a large area.

For planting, three foot high plants would be the max. Any higher and all you have to do is get a sharp machete and chop off the stalk about 2 to 2.5′ from the base and it will start to grow immediately from the center doing no harm. Once a banana has fruited it will produce no more bunches and must be cut down to ground level. Others will be popping up to replace that one around the same area.

Soil, well 1/2 black dirt and 1/2 sand will work fine to a depth of about 18″ for best results. They sometimes do grow just in the sand.

The way to tell the difference between a banana and a plantain is by the “skin” on its trunk. Bananas have some brown “streaks” in the skin and plantains are a much darker brown or black.

Cross-pollination is possible and over the years it may happen so do your best to keep them as far away from each other as possible but, pollen is everywhere.

Marsha

how to a grow banana tree

Banana or Plantain – what’s your guess?

belize banana

My guess is plantain tree

belize banana

I was wrong. They are Bananas 🙂

3 comments

  1. Leaves on plantain and banana plants are colored similarly, they are slightly varied in shape. Plantain leaves are similarly shaped to shoe soles, while banana leaves tend to be longer, more tubular and sometimes even sword-shaped. Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_8693015_do-banana-plant-plantain-plant.html

    Try taking smart phone pics of your trees and show them to a local garden shop and expert for easy identification.

  2. How can you tell the difference between a Banana tree and a Plantain tree? Also how do you know if you have a lemon lime tree or Avacodo tree? I live in Florida and I have these two plants in my yard and they were planted here before I moved here so I was wondering what type of plants they were?

  3. Does Belizean cuisine traditionally include banana flowers in their cuisine? Some Asian cultures eat the flower as well, and I was curious if banana flowers are available at the local markets. In your article, you mention, once a banana tree has fruited, it won’t fruit anymore and needs to be chopped back to ground level. Does that mean cutting the flowers before the tree fruits will prolong the tree? In other words, can you delay fruiting by continuously cutting off the flower? Great site and I love the new series on gardening and plants!

    Best,
    Homero
    Austin, Texas

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