How to Grow Banana Plants Without Going BananasDate Posted: 18 September 2018
How to Grow Banana Plants Without Going Bananas
I’m going bananas.
I am not quite sure what first got me into growing banana plants. Maybe my frequent visits to Guangdong Province, a sub-tropical region of southern China got me thinking about such things as mandarins, lychees and bananas, (see my earlier blogs “The value of repotting things!” and “Herbaceous Border Part II”.) all of which grow in vast profusion throughout the region. After a 70 minute hydrofoil voyage from Hong Kong to Zuhai a 3 hour car drive awaits. As I am being driven I spend a good part of the journey watching the fish farms, the factories, endless paddy fields and huge fruit orchards which border the motorway on both sides.
Whether the view, the advent of a new greenhouse or the launch of Japeto garden tools were my inspiration my interest in gardening was renewed I decided that I wanted to grow banana plants.
The decision to start a new herbaceous border allowed me to think that I could plant a banana right in the middle to provide the height that I wanted. Now that the plant has grown I derive great pleasure and calmness from watching the huge leaves swaying and dipping in the breeze.
But getting to this point took some doing and here’s why. Fully gown plants are expensive and I have found do not always achieve the required result. Seeds are a much cheaper option and these are readily available on the Internet. Being enthusiastic I ordered about 6 different varieties. However, getting them to germinate is another matter altogether and this does involve a heating mat and careful attention over quite a long period. Next year however I shall be able to grow new plants from the rhizomes which form in the ground and can be detached from the main plant and potted up. The seeds I have managed to grow are:
Musa Ornata (Ornamental banana)
Ensete ventricosum (Abyssinian banana)
Plants which I bought on the web are:
Musa Acuminata (Dwarf Cavendish)
Musa Lasiocarpa (Chinese yellow banana) Musa Basjoo (Japanese or hardy banana)
Of the above I think that I like the Abyssinian banana best. It has heavily ribbed dark green leaves which seem not to fade as fast as other types.
This is my first year of growing banana plants and so I am learning all the time. However daily watering, particularly as the plants begin to gain height, is essential, as is weekly feeding with a liquid fertilizer. It is also worthwhile removing the leaves that die off at the base of the plant with secateurs or snips.
All in all it has been an enjoyable exercise and one which has intrigued my family and friends. I hope to learn more about these fascinating herbaceous plants through the winter and shall certainly be hoping to grow more of them from seed.
PS Everybody asks when I shall get some bananas. My answer is that I am growing banana plants as herbaceous plants and have no expectation of getting any fruit.