Plants 101

How to Care for Banana Trees

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn all about how to care for banana trees.

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It’s not just apple, pear, or cherry trees you can plant to enjoy their fruits. It is possible to grow a fruiting banana tree, but not without a bit of work. Intermediate gardeners and beginners looking for a challenge will enjoy the rewarding experience of learning how to care for a banana plant.

There are about 70 various species of banana trees. Most of these species grow best outdoors; some can grow 12 to 20 feet tall. Research the different varieties to choose the best type of banana tree for your USDA Hardiness Zone and available space, and pick whether you would like a fruiting or ornamental variety of banana leaf plant.

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn all about how to care for banana trees. With research you can enjoy these striking tropical plants indoors and out.

Banana Tree Care

The banana tree effectively transports you to a tropical paradise, with its solid trunk topped with flat, delicate leaves. This trunk can shed bark, giving it the recognizable appearance of a palm tree or other warm-weather species.

A banana tree’s leaves can reach more than one foot in length and easily tear. The flapping foliage features vibrant green leaves without any variegation or other leaf design. Some of the leaves stick straight up, while others reach to the sides.

This plant can produce edible fruits, but many will not taste like the bananas you grab at the grocery store. Many of these banana leaf plants produce a plantain, a starchy fruit that resembles a banana. Unlike bananas, plantains taste better when they are fully cooked. Plantains are indigenous to Southeast Asia and are used in world cuisines.

Proper Light Sources – How Fast Does a Banana Tree Grow?

This tropical plant drinks up the sun and prefers to be blasted by rays for at least six hours each day. Plants requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight daily are considered full-sun plants. While morning sunlight works, the hotter afternoon rays are even better for a banana tree.

A banana tree can grow very rapidly during the warm months and drinks up the sun, water, and nutrients. In addition to choosing a location with plenty of sun, also make sure your banana tree is protected from wind to help it grow.

How long does a banana tree take to grow? A banana tree will reach its full maturity in as little as nine months to one year.

How Often to Water a Banana Plant

This rainforest plant requires a lot of water to thrive. While overwatering can be a problem that leads to root rot, it is essential to keep this plant evenly moist. Pay close attention to your banana tree, especially during periods of warm weather. If your banana leaf plant is experiencing a lot of heat, you may have to water this plant every day.

Humidity

When you’re learning how to care for banana trees, water and humidity are crucial elements. In addition to potentially watering your banana tree every day, it is recommended to mist your banana tree daily as well.

Grab an ordinary spray bottle and gently mist your banana leaf plant to help provide moisture for its leaves. If this hands-on approach doesn’t work for you, purchase a humidifier to provide passive, consistent moisture for your tropical indoor houseplants.

Temperature

Temperature extremes are the enemy of your banana plant. Those who like to keep their thermostats a little warmer will make a happy home for a banana plant. Ideally, this houseplant grows most quickly in an environment with a temperature consistently between 75 to 95 degrees.

Place your banana plant in a consistently warm room to help it grow even faster. A laundry room, bathroom, or kitchen provides the warmth and humidity this plant loves.

Soil

Banana trees need a lot of nutrients to fuel and sustain their rapid growth. While we already covered the heavy moisture and sunlight needs, the soil is another area where gardeners must be prepared to do a bit of extra work.

Outdoor banana plants can take a half-pound to three-quarters of a pound of fertilizer when they are young. As they mature, fertilizer needs for banana plants triple. Gardeners should be prepared to deliver a heavy amount of nitrogen-, phosphorus-, and potassium-rich fertilizer to their banana plants every month.

Indoor banana leaf plants require less volume of fertilizer but still need regular feedings. While other indoor houseplants ask for little to no fertilizer, this step is crucial for a thriving banana plant.

Common Problems

Banana trees can host a variety of different pests that can damage your banana tree. Insects pose the largest threat to a thriving banana plant. Many of these insects affect outdoor banana trees but can be carried indoors as well.

The most common problems for indoor banana trees are root rot and powdery mildew from overwatering. If you underwater your plant, pay attention to wilting.

Aphids

This ordinary insect can infiltrate many plants, and banana trees are no exception. In addition to being very effective disease transmitters to the rest of your indoor plants, aphids destroy foliage and leave it curled and shriveled up.

Black Weevils

Black weevils bore into the trunk of your banana leaf plant and leave a telltale oozing sap behind. If you see this sap on your banana tree, take action with pesticides to remove this threat. Unfortunately, this is the best way to remove black weevils.

Nematodes

The nematode, or roundworm, is the most common infestation to face banana tree plants and the most numerous multi-celled organism found on the planet. If you fear your plant or its fruit is rotting or decomposing, nematodes may be to blame.

Specialized anti-nematode products will help remove the parasitic worms from your plants. Also heating the dirt to more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit is an effective, natural fix; this only works on manageable volumes of dirt.

Mealybugs and Red Spider Mites

These sap-sucking insects are common to banana trees. Watch for the telltale fuzz of mealybugs to catch a nasty infestation. Often black weevils and these insects will appear in tandem.

Scarring Beetle

If your plant is producing fruit, watch for the damaging effects of a scarring beetle. This pest invades the fruit of the banana tree and quickly ruins your hard-earned harvest.

Thrips

Another insect that threatens the plant’s fruit is thrips. These small, skinny, winged insects stain the bananas and split the fruit’s peel, making the bananas inedible.

Level of Difficulty

Beginners looking for a challenge or experienced intermediate gardeners will appreciate the increased level of difficulty with a banana tree. Expect a more rigorous fertilizing, watering, and pest monitoring process than with more basic houseplants.

Conclusion

Banana leaf plants bring the unmistakable feeling of the tropics to your outdoor landscapes and indoor spaces as well. Be sure to allow plenty of room for this plant to thrive indoors and outdoors, with lots of direct sun and plentiful water. Beware of the many bugs attracted to this plant.

Leave time to mist, fertilize, and provide additional care to your banana tree.


Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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