Contrary to popular belief, banana trees aren’t truly trees. They’re large annual herbs. Although many people associate these plants with hot, humid tropical places, it is possible to successfully grow them in many agricultural zones. However, regardless of what the climate in your area is like, there are several things you should know if you want to keep your banana plant healthy and happy. It may even produce fruit for you!
Lighting and Temperature
Banana trees require an abundance of bright sunlight, so it’s best to grow them outdoors if you want them to reach their full potential. If they get slight shade for part of the day, that’s fine, but at least 12 hours of full sun each day is optimal. In cooler areas like Philadelphia, however, you must take care to protect your tree from cold winds.
Soil and Watering
Bananas like a loamy and well-drained soil. This is most important near the surface because banana roots are shallow-growing and tend to spread outward. They also like plenty of water. It’s recommended that you add rich organic matter to the soil and surround the plant with a thick layer of mulch. Try not to water the plant so much that it’s standing in a puddle.
Banana trees are heavy feeders. It’s best to provide them with a rich compost or aged manure to give them the nutrients they need. Otherwise, you should give them a fruit tree fertilizer with every watering. Furthermore, keep weeds away from your plant as they will rob it of precious nutrients.
Pruning and Maintenance
There’s no need to prune a banana unless you wish to scale it back or if you want to cultivate new plants. All dead leaves, flowers and fruit should be removed immediately. Once your banana tree finishes producing fruit, the main plant will die. It’s recommended to cut it back to the ground. Fear not, though. New shoots will spring up from the base and become new ‘trees’.
If you want keep bananas alive year round in an area with cold winters, choose one of the cold-hardy varieties such as Saja, Ice Cream, and Musa Basjoo. However, even these cultivars must be protected during the winter. Simply cut them down to the ground and cover them with a generous layer of mulch, followed by a sheet of thick plastic. On the other hand, you can also bring the whole plant, or even just its root ball, indoors for the winter. Just replant it in a pot and place it in a sunny, draft-free window.
If you have a large banana plant, cut off all of its leaves before you dig it up. Carefully remove excess soil from the root ball and place it in a container of slightly moist sand. Because the plant will go dormant, you don’t need to fertilize or water it during this period. If you find that you’re having trouble getting your tree out of the ground, call Rick’s Tree Service. We’ll have it out in no time.