Knowing how to grow a banana tree will add tons of character to your property. A staple of the tropical garden, the banana tree is loved for its broad leaves and impressive stature. However, you might be fooled into thinking that this plant is only available in the hottest regions of the country. Even if you live in colder areas, you can still learn how to grow a banana tree outdoors. You can also learn how to grow a banana tree indoors as it also makes a fabulous houseplant.
Whether you’re wondering how to grow a banana tree to add to your garden ideas, or you’re looking for a new addition to your houseplant collection, this guide is sure to help you along the way.
How to grow a banana tree – right plant, right place
There are over 1,000 species of banana trees, but the most commonly chosen varieties for tropical gardening ideas are the Cavendish banana and the Musa Basjoo.
The Cavendish banana is a popular variety for growing outdoors, while its relative, the Dwarf Cavendish, is a popular houseplant variety.
If you live in growing zones 10a, 10b, or 11, you can learn how to grow a banana tree outdoors and harvest its fruit. If your banana tree is grown in a greenhouse, it could also fruit in slightly lower growing zones. Regardless, the temperature needs to be above 15°C for most of the year to fruit.
When grown in the best conditions, the Cavendish banana will reach a final height of about 16 feet with leaves about 6 feet long. Therefore, it is advisable to only plant this strain in a garden with plenty of space – do not plant near your house or neighbor’s property, or too close to your property lines to avoid later conflict or trouble. However, the positive thing about the banana being such a large tree is that it makes a great addition to shady garden ideas, offering plenty of privacy and sun protection.
Of course, you can still learn how to grow a banana tree even if you live in colder climates. If you live in zones 5 through 9, be sure to buy the Musa Basjoo variety. Also known as the cold hardy banana, this banana tree can only survive 6 years°Q. Although the foliage will die back after a frost, the rhizome will continue to survive underground and then quickly produce new growth in spring and return to its previous height.
Musa basjoo is slightly smaller than the Cavendish banana and grows to 9 to 14 feet tall, making it a bit more compact. Growing her in a pot restricts her growth to ensure a more manageable plant that will look great as part of your patio ideas.
How to grow a banana tree
The best way to grow a banana tree is to purchase an established tree. Growing a banana tree from rhizome is very time consuming; it can take almost 18 months to germinate and will grow quite slowly. On the other hand, an established tree grows exceptionally fast, in fact it is one of the best fast growing trees.
- Find a good job – Banana trees thrive best in full sun with minimal wind. They also need plenty of room to grow.
- Dig a hole – twice the size of the pot the tree is in.
- attachment – Place the root ball of your tree in the hole and fill it up with rich compost.
- Water daily – “Bananas need to be watered copiously as they lose water through their massive leaves. Water in the evening, water around the roots, not over the leaves, and check containers at least once a day and water even if it has rained,” advise experts at Hartley Botanic (opens in new tab).
- Feed monthly – Bananas thrive on nutrient rich compost and benefit greatly from a monthly feeding of 10-10-10 (NKP) plant fertilizer. They’ll also benefit from feeding them Epsom salts – just sprinkle a teaspoon on the compost at the base of the plant.
How to take care of a banana tree in winter?
Once your banana tree is potted, move it indoors or to a heated greenhouse during the winter months – bring it indoors a few weeks before the first frost.
When your tree is planted in the ground, you have a few options. If you live in a cold part of the country and your banana tree isn’t the hardy variety, it’s worth lifting and potting it up. You can prune it back to about 30 inches, leave it for two weeks, and then raise it into a pot filled with leaf mulch. Then store in a dark, frost-free place to protect it from inclement weather until late spring. Then transplant after the last frost.
If the weather is a little milder where you live and/or your banana tree is a hardy variety, prune it back to about 30 inches and cover it well with mulch and fleece to provide good insulation. This should protect the rhizome so the tree can sprout again the following spring.
Can I Grow a Banana Tree Indoors?
Yes, you can grow a banana tree indoors, in fact, for many homeowners this is the best way to grow a banana tree. If you want to learn how to grow a banana tree as a houseplant, look for a smaller indoor variety, like Dwarf Cavendish or Tropicana.
“The perfect houseplant for the warm summer months, banana plants combine beautifully with both bird-of-paradise plants to transform your conservatory ideas into a tropical dream,” says Anni-Noel Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Sproutl (opens in new tab).
“A great pet friendly choice, they also love lots of sun so can be placed on any tier but they really love a good south facing or window.” They thrive well in moist environments, so make sure they are watered and sprayed regularly to keep them in top shape.”
Can I grow a banana tree from a banana?
No, you cannot grow a banana tree from a commercial banana as they do not have viable seeds. This differs from the process of growing mangoes from seed or growing lemons from seed as these can be grown from commercially available fruit. Instead, it’s best to purchase an established tree that you can plant in your garden or pot for your home.
Are banana trees susceptible to pests?
“No, banana trees are not very susceptible to pests, but there are some that can cause problems. The banana aphid is the most common pest and can be controlled with insecticidal soaps or homemade bug sprays. There are also several types of spider mites that can infest banana trees, but they can be controlled with acaricides,” explains Lindsey Hyland, founder of UrbanOrganic Yield (opens in new tab).