If your grocer says, “Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today,” it is not surprising because the banana is the world’s second favourite fruit, surpassed in popularity only by the apple. Once only grown in tropical climates, the great news is that several types can be grown in northern areas as well as from the south.
Because it takes two months or longer to reach adulthood, some northern gardeners grow the banana plant just for its spectacular ornamental foliage. However, in the hobby greenhouse, even northern growers can attain a fruit harvest and reap the extra benefit of seeing the awesome manner in which fruit is produced.
Probably due to its elevation, the banana plant is often incorrectly referred to as a banana tree. Actually, however, the banana is the largest herbaceous perennial and belongs to the monocotyledons of the Musaceae family, which also includes palms, grasses, and orchids.
Bananas grow from rhizomes, which are stems that take root and ship shoots (suckers) up through the soil. Banana plants might also be propagated through suckers (also known as pups or ratoons) that grow from the main stem of the banana plant. If you have difficulty in locating banana rhizomes at the neighborhood nursery, you can locate them in many garden catalogs in addition to Internet garden outlets.
Site and soil
The banana plant grows best in full sun in soil that offers excellent drainage. Good drainage is vital since soaked roots may die in under an hour. Additionally it is important to shield the banana plant from heavy winds which may tatter the banana plant foliage.
The banana plant is a really heavy feeder. Soil ought to be nutrient rich, slightly acidic, and loamy sufficient to keep moisture and retain nutrients from leaching beneath the shallow roots of this plant. Amendments of good organic compost and green sand or kelp meal can help to maintain the banana plant’s high nutrient requirements.
Planting Banana Rhizomes
Dig a hole about a foot wide and ten to twelve inches deep. Set the rhizome from the hole so the marriage between it and the sucker stem are about six inches deep. If your website isn’t flat, the eye of your banana rhizome should be on the uphill side of your pit. Fill the hole with soil and tamp down firmly to remove any air pockets. If planting more than 1 rhizome, plants will need to be spaced at least ten feet apart so that each receives the advantage of full sun. Water your planting carefully to maintain the rhizome healthy until the plant is established.
Banana Plant Growth
Due to its rapid expansion, the banana plant is one that you almost can sit back and watch grow. When the banana plant is about three-quarters increased, it generates several suckers in its base. Remove all these, save one, by trimming them at ground level with a sharp knife. The saved shoot is known as a follower. It will become your banana plant’s main stem after the mother plant fruits.
The “back” of the banana plant is in fact a densely packed set of concentric leaves, a pseudostem. After the banana plant has increased about thirty leaves, the fruit stem stays through them from the rhizome and emerges as a terminal inflorescence (a group of flowers at the tip of the stem). The fruit stem matures a few months after its development. Flower bracts soon cover the stem and then roll back almost daily, each exposing a “hand” of bananas. At the start of their development, the small hands grow down, but as they grow, they turn their palms towards sunlight and seem to be growing upside down. This phenomenon is known as “negative geotropism”.
A banana bunch is ready to cut when the fruit is plump and round with no clear ribs. At this time, the flower bracts will be quite dry and readily break off from the fruit tip. To harvest bananas, the stem of the bunch ought to be cut well over the top hand of bananas.
Bananas ripen by self-producing warmth and ethylene gas. To maximize your banana crop, pick individual green palms to ripen them . Seal the hand in a plastic bag with a different ripening banana or a fruit like a red apple. The hand uses the gas created by the ripening fruit and accelerate the procedure. Place the bag in a cool dark place, like a cabinet (a fridge is too cold!) . After 24 to 48 hours, remove the ripening fruit. The hand of bananas should have the ability to complete the ripening process by itself.
After harvest, cut the mother down plant to floor level. The “follower” will take her place for next year’s banana growing!