Many know banana trees from tropical greenhouses or vacations in warm countries. However, it is largely unknown that these impressive plants also grow in our climate. In recent years, hardier varieties have been bred, so that planting out is definitely possible, even if winter protection is still needed. Alternatively, however, bananas also thrive in buckets, which makes overwintering easier, provided there is enough space. What you need to know, read the following text.
Table of Contents
- Specialist designation Musa
- Banana family
- About 70 species
- Grow in tropical and subtropical areas
- Some species and hybrids form edible fruits
- Evergreen perennial plants
- Have a rhizome from which runners sprout
- Form a non-woody stem, can grow up to 10 m tall
- Large, simple, entire leaves
- Inflorescence mostly pendulous, sometimes erect
- Green, brown or red bracts
- Several flowers in one or two rows
- Botanically, bananas are berries
- Many species are monocarpic, meaning they die after they have fertilized
- Children grow into new plants
The care of banana plants
Most banana plants are cultivated as container plants in Central Europe. Although one sees more and more specimens planted out, they receive special protection in winter. There are areas and there are well-protected places where bananas can survive the winter outdoors, but without protection it is not possible. Keeping them in buckets, on the other hand, is not a problem, at least until the plants grow too much.
Planted bananas also produce fruit, but these do not ripen here. Our summers are too short for that. This can be done in a bucket. Fruiting lasts 2 to 5 years.
Bananas in the tub and also planted out are best in a sunny position. It is important to have a place where the wind cannot damage the leaves. They tear and tatter quickly and then no longer look so decorative. Bananas in pots also like to be outdoors in summer. However, pure housing is definitely possible.
- Always as bright as possible, even in winter
- In summer, the banana likes to be outside – get used to the sun slowly!
- Definitely sheltered from the wind
- Bananas love warmth, sun and fresh air
- Indoor plants should always be close to the window. It is important to ensure, especially in summer, that there are no burns (curtains)
- High humidity, if possible 50% and more. Pay particular attention to this in winter, because the plants do not tolerate dry heating air well.
- Place as airy as possible, but no draughts!
Banana plants usually get along well with standard soil. This can be made a little more permeable with lava grout, pumice or grit. It is important that the soil is not permanently wet.
- Permeable and without waterlogging
- Normal potting soil mixed with perlite, clay granules or grit
- It is important that not only organic substances are included, but also a lot of mineral ones.
- The additives allow oxygen to reach the roots and excess water can drain off easily
- For planted specimens, also ensure good drainage.
A drainage layer is especially important for pot-grown bananas. Excess water must be able to drain off. Waterlogging is bad for the roots, which rot quickly. In addition, because of their rapid growth, banana plants often need to be repotted.
- With potted plants, drainage is important.
- Don’t plant too deep
- It is better to use smaller containers than those that are too large
- Don’t let offshoots get too big, rather cut them off in good time and separate them
It is important not to plant the bananas too young. They must be strong enough to survive the winter. They must be at least one year old, older is better.
- Plant out in August at the latest so that the bananas can grow well.
- A well-protected place is important
- Dig the planting hole big enough and loosen the soil nicely
- Water the root ball and place the plant in the hole
- Fill in the soil, mix well with mineral components.
- Protect young plants from direct sunlight for the first 2 weeks
watering and fertilizing
Bananas need plenty of water during the growing season. When kept in buckets, it usually has to be watered more frequently, because in addition to the normal water requirement, evaporation comes from the large leaves. Since waterlogging is harmful, the high demand must be compensated for by more frequent watering.
- Water regularly and plentifully during the growing season.
- The larger the plant and the leaves, the higher the water requirement
- Lime-free water is best
- Absolutely no waterlogging
- Do not let the substrate dry out, this will damage the roots
- Always pour from above, not into the saucer.
- Pour Penetrating!
- In winter, wait until the soil separates from the edge of the pot before watering. The bananas hibernate and need significantly less water.
- Also water planted bananas regularly, penetratingly, but not quite as frequently.
- Spray with water several times a day in summer and especially in winter if you keep it indoors
- Alternatively, humidifiers also do a good job.
- Fertilizer is always only weak, but all year round, at least for potted plants.
- Fertilize weekly in spring and fall
- Fertilize monthly in fall and winter
- Only use half of the specified fertilizer
Overwintering tub bananas
Potted plants overwinter best indoors. It depends on the species, whether they would rather have it warm or a little cooler. Sufficient light, on the other hand, is important for everyone. Planted specimens need good winter protection.
- Most species do best with temperatures around 10°C.
- Some types are also suitable for warmer rooms. Here, however, great attention must be paid to pests.
- Temperatures around 20°C are recommended. High humidity is important, which is why banana plants thrive in bright bathrooms.
- A lot of light is important in a warm location. Additional lighting can also prove useful.
- In cool hibernation, not so much light is needed.
- No temperatures below 5°C, at least not for long.
- Water significantly less. Always wait until the soil separates from the edge of the pot, then water thoroughly again. Continue fertilizing, but only once a month.
Hibernation of planted bananas
No matter what type or variety of banana it is, none survives a Central European winter outdoors without protection. Leaves only tolerate about 0°C. They die when there is frost, which is not a problem, because as long as the root and stem survive, the plant will sprout again. The trunk tolerates temperatures between approx. -2 and -5°C. The rhizome varies from -10 to -20°C. As long as the rhizome survives, a banana will sprout again in spring. It is therefore important to protect the banana plant well. There are different methods for this.
Pack the banana plant well
- It is best to build a real framework around the banana
- Cover the bottom with a thick layer of straw and foliage
- Attach a styrofoam cover all around
- Fill the scaffolding with leaves and straw.
- Some plant lovers build a real wooden house around their bananas. You can find the best stuff by googling it.
- Heating is also possible.
- In the spring the plants are unpacked again. Withered parts must be carefully removed with a sharp knife.
Dig up banana plants and overwinter indoors
- Dig up the banana no later than the first frost
- To do this, cut off a generous radius around the plant with a spade so as not to destroy any offshoots that are just forming.
- Plant the bale in a suitable container and overwinter at about 10°C
- Plant again in May
- Cut the banana and pack the stump well
- When growth stops in autumn and the first frost is announced, cut off the dummy trunk to a height of 30 to 50 cm. It is best to cut through at an angle with a very sharp large knife.
- Then pack the stump well with leaves and straw, but in such a way that nothing can fly away.
- Unpack again in the spring and hope that the plant will sprout again.
Bananas are not actually cut. They thrive best when they can just grow naturally. However, it sometimes happens that the plants just get too big, they no longer fit into the winter quarters. Banana plants can also grow into stately plants in the bucket.
- Do not cut
- If the banana has grown so large that there are problems with space, simply raise a child to a new plant.
- Cutting smaller doesn’t work because the vegetation point from which the new leaves appear is at the top.
Bananas are most easily propagated by offshoots or Kindel. The bananas do it themselves. Otherwise, sowing is still possible.
Offshoots – on dwarf bananas
- Carefully separate daughter plants or children when repotting
- Plant separately
- Cultivate like a large banana
Sowing – for ornamental bananas
- Soak seeds overnight
- Sow in a sand-peat mixture
- Moisten and keep evenly moist
- Cover the jar with cling film
- Temperatures above 25°C
diseases and pests
Bananas are quite robust and not very susceptible to diseases. Most problems arise when wintering, whether indoors or outdoors. In the case of warm hibernation, there is also a risk of pests such as spider mites and scale insects. Mushrooms can appear outside.
- Yellow leaves – lack of nutrients
- Brown, dry leaf edges – indicate a lack of water or too dry air
- Loss of leaves – the banana is too dark or the soil is too wet
- Spider mites – air that is too dry
- Scale insects – appear when the plant is weakened
Hardy banana varieties
The best known and probably also the hardest type of banana is the Japanese fiber banana, the Musa basjoo. Although it does not produce edible fruit, it looks impressive in the garden. This species copes well with normal Central European winters and also grows when the temperatures are not that warm. The ‘Nana’ variety, also known as ‘Sakhalin’, is the most commonly bought. The ‘Saporro’ variety is also offered quite often.
The Derjeeling banana, Musa sikkimensis, is also suitable. This comes from India, Nepal, the Asian continent. This banana also bears fruits, but they don’t ripen because the summers are just too short. The fruits also contain numerous black seeds that cannot be eaten.
The Musa sikkimensis ‘Red Tiger’ variety also belongs to the Derjeeling bananas. It still has reddish irregular stripes on the leaves, very decorative. The varieties ‘Red Flash’, ‘Mainpur’, ‘Daj Giant’ and ‘Fire’ are sometimes available.
Musa itinerans, Musa balbisiana, Musa cheesmanii and Musa yunnanensis are also commercially available. These originate from the Japanese high mountain regions. However, they are not as hardy as is often stated.
Musa sikkimensis are not as hardy as Musa basjoo and are also prone to fungal attack. The Japanese fiber banana cannot be topped as a planted variety.
Frequently Asked Questions
How fast does a banana plant grow?
One can say that with an ideal location, good substrate and good care, a banana can grow 1 cm per day. The plants create up to 3 m in one year. In good years they put out a new leaf almost every week (7 to 10 days). But that is often different. Not every year is the same.
What is the name of the banana with the red leaves and is it hardy?
The Red Abyssinian Banana (Ensete Ventricosum Maurelli) is actually a houseplant. The special thing about this banana is the dark red coloring of the leaves. The plant can grow up to 4 m high and likes to be outdoors in summer, although it prefers a bit of shade. Avoid glaring midday sun. The banana does not form children, is propagated by sowing. It grows fast, but rarely blooms here.