APRIL 2003
Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas



Growing Bananas

By Dr. Julian Sauls, Extension Horticulturist
Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Weslaco, Texas

ananas are large, herbaceous plants which grow very quickly and provide a decidedly tropical appearance to home landscapes. The rapid growth and tropical appearance are responsible for the increased popularity of banana plants in Texas.

Propagation of bananas is by suckers, which are produced profusely at the base of each plant. Preferred sucker size for transplanting is 3 to 4 inches in diameter, but other sizes are successful.

The leaves may be trimmed off at transplanting, or the top may be cut off 1 to 2 feet above ground.

Container-grown banana plants are simply transplanted without trimming.

Click on picture to see larger image
Click on picture to see larger image
Bananas require good watering and fertilization; the latter can be either nitrogen alone or a complete balanced fertilizer. Some suckers may be cut off at or below ground if the clump gets too large for the area.

There are a number of varieties of bananas, including cooking types, fresh types, and ornamentals. Many of the banana plants sold in retail nurseries are of unknown variety. As ornamentals only, it does not really matter whether the variety is known -- only whether it is of standard (tall) size or dwarf.

Banana plants are quite sensitive to frosts and are readily killed back to the ground in very light freezes. Normally, new suckers will grow back the following spring.

There are virtually no pests that cause extensive damage to bananas. The most common problem is tattering of the leaves due to wind. Lower leaves which hang down the trunk can be cut off if desired.

Fruiting of bananas will normally require 10 to 15 months from the time a sucker emerges. Consequently, fruiting does not usually occur in frostprone areas, as the plants keep getting killed back to the ground. However, heavy fruiting occurs in most frost-free areas and in other areas following a particularly mild winter.

The fruit stem normally requires 3 to 4 months to mature following its appearance. However, do not expect the bananas to turn yellow on the stalk. Maturity is achieved when the individual bananas become full and rounded, after which they can be cut and hung or placed in a warm area to ripen to good eating quality. Once a stalk of bananas begins to ripen, the entire stalk will ripen in a few days.

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