Everyone loves bananas, they are incredibly good for you and full of energy.
Most people don’t realize it is possible to grow a dwarf banana plant indoors as a houseplant.
In the wild banana plants can grow up to 30 feet tall however they are still technically a plant as they don’t have any woody tissue, you can keep them much smaller by choosing a dwarf variety and pruning it.
You can successfully grow bananas if you live in an apartment as I do or if you have a conservatory you could grow a bumper crop.
In this complete guide, I am going to tell you how I grow big bunches of bananas in my apartment and anyone who follows these instructions will also know how to successfully grow them practically anywhere.
The easiest way to grow a dwarf banana plant indoors is to buy a corm or sucker from a store and plant it in a loam-based compost. Place it somewhere that gets 6 – 12 hours sunlight, water it every couple of days and use fertilizer once per week.
What variety of banana plant is best for growing indoors?
When you are deciding what type of banana plant you want to grow indoors you should be aware that not all varieties produce fruit.
Also, remember that full-size banana plants can get rather large so I would always recommend a dwarf variety for growing indoors.
Different varieties of banana plant have different tasting bananas so you might want to investigate that before deciding what variety to go with.
The most popular variety of bananas for growing indoors is the ‘Super Dwarf Cavendish’ variety as it only grows to about 1.2 meters.
Other varieties suitable for indoor growing are the ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ (2.7 meters), ‘Dwarf Lady Finger’ (2.7 meters), ‘Gran Nain’ (2.4 meters), ‘Dwarf Brazilian’ (4.6 meters), ‘Dwarf Jamaican’ (2.4 meters), ‘Williams Hybrid’ (2.4 meters) and the ‘Rajapuri’ (3 meters).
Should I grow a banana plant from seed or buy a young seedling?
Bananas grown for mass consumption are not normally grown from seeds but from a seedlings/ sucker or from a bulb that is called a corm.
In the wild, there are bananas that are grown from seeds but the resulting fruits are filled with er seeds although the fruits are alleged to taste better.
When I am growing bananas I always buy a seedling or corm as it is a lot simpler and I definitely prefer seedless bananas.
If you know someone who grows a banana plant you could always ask them for s sucker as lots are produced and most of them will end up in the bin.
Alternatively, you could buy a dwarf banana plant seed or corm from the internet or a local shop.
I definitely know you won’t be able to grow a banana from a banana you have bought in a shop so don’t even try.
How to germinate a banana plant
If you have decided to grow bananas from a seed, here is what to do.
Soak your seed in warm water for a day or two, this softens the hard coating and allows the seed to grow a sprout quicker.
Plant your seeds in a pot about a quarter inch deep and give it a good water so the soil is damp, banana plants like damp soil but not totally soaked.
Keep your pots somewhere that doesn’t get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
The length of time before green sprouts appear depends on the variety of banana plant you have decided to grow.
Some will germinate in 2 – 3 weeks and others will take 2 – 3 months so be patient and always start more than one seed as they don’t always germinate then only keep the healthiest one.
If you have decided to start a banana plant using a corm simply put it in the soil about ½ inch deep and give it a water and follow the above instructions.
What sort of pot should I use for a banana plant?
You should start your banana plant in a container that is not too large and re-pot it when it outgrows the container as it will stop growing at this point.
An ideal size for starting is a 6 – 8-inch pot and make sure it is wide enough to have 3 inches in between the corm or main stem of the plant and the side of the container.
The next size pot would be a 10-inch pot then increase the size of the pot by 6 inches every couple of years.
Always make sure the pot you are using is deep enough for the roots to grow and has good drainage.
What sort of soil should I use for a banana plant?
Bananas will grow in practically any soil but to be sure to grow a healthy plant that produces tasty fruits you should provide the ideal conditions for your plant.
The ideal soil you should use would be a loam-based compost, this is a compost that is a mix of sand, silt or clay and organic matter.
Sandy loam compost is especially good at absorbing water and moisture so will stay damp, just how your banana plant likes it.
How much light does a banana plant require?
Banana plants grow best and quickest when they have 6 – 12 hours of sunlight daily.
If you don’t have that much sunlight in your house don’t worry most people don’t and still manage to successfully grow banana plants indoors.
The less sunlight your plant has then the slower it will grow.
If in doubt then buy an indoor LED grow lamp, they don’t cost much and are very affordable to put on a timer, that’s what I do. You might want to check my articles on cheap Led lights that work and Led grow lights strips to see what good options are available.
How often should I water my banana plant?
Indoor plants kept in a pot or container will always require more water than a plant grown outside.
Banana plants do like lots of water and I water mines every 2 – 3 days and also give the leaves a misting every morning during the growing season but it depends on your local climate.
Don’t let the soil get completely dry in between watering, the aim is to keep it constantly damp but not soaking wet.
Make sure you always use a well-draining pot as standing water will inevitably lead to root rot and that is never good.
What temperature is best for indoor banana plants?
Bananas grow naturally in tropical climates so they do like hot and humid conditions.
The ideal temperature for growing banana plants is 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19C) at night and 80+ degrees Fahrenheit (26C) during the day.
If your temperature gets below that don’t worry as they are hardy plants, just as long as they don’t have to suffer any frosty conditions they should be fine.
I don’t take much notice of the temperature in my house and my banana plant does just fine at pretty standard household temperature.
What is the best fertilizer for a banana plant in a pot?
During the growing season, I would recommend fertilizing your banana plant once per week.
I use a fertilizer that is high in potassium, magnesium, and nitrogen as this will help to promote growth in your plant. You can either use a liquid fertilizer or a granular fertilizer that will dissolve into the soil when you water it.
The best thing to do is look for a fertilizer that is specifically for tropical plants, if you can’t find one then use a balanced fertilizer that is 20-20-20.
During the autumn and winter months, I reduce the amount I fertilize to only once per month.
How to prune an indoor banana plant
Pruning a banana plant is important as it promotes growth and will lead to your pant producing more fruits.
You should prune your plant twice per year, once in the spring before your plant starts to grow and once after you have harvested the fruits for the season.
The main purpose of pruning your banana plant is to remove the excess suckers that grow up the stalk from under the soil.
You want the plants’ energy to mostly go into the fruits and not these excessive suckers.
Remove the suckers with a sharp knife, cut from the sucker all the way down to the soil.
These suckers can be planted to start a new plant.
Make sure the knife you use is sharp as this will ensure the scars heal quicker.
Always leave 5 or 6 suckers as they are what will produce the fruits.
After you have harvested your bananas you should cut off the suckers that the seasons fruit came from as they only produce fruit once.
When it comes to the leaves, remove any deaf ones only when they are completely dead and shriveled up.
How to pollinate a banana plant?
The good news is that edible banana plants are self-fruitful, this means they pollinate themselves.
You literally don’t have to do anything to help pollinate your plant.
One plant will pollinate itself so unlike some fruits you don’t need 2 to pollinate each other.
Should I thin out any heavy clusters of bananas?
There is no need to thin out bananas when they appear on your tree.
This is because the suckers they grow from will only produce one bunch.
As long as you have properly pruned your plant to only allow 5 or 6 suckers per season it should produce just the right amount of fruits to grow big and tasty specimens.
You may need to use a wooden stake you can tie your tree to if it starts to bend due to the weight of the fruits.
When to pick bananas from a plant
It seems fairly obvious to most people that you harvest bananas when they go ripe and yellow but this is not always the case.
Most bananas fill out then go from dark green to light green and then to yellow.
This is not always the case as some varieties will be sweet and ripe and good for eating but stay green and never go yellow.
You should check for the variety you have chosen to grow what the appropriate signs for harvesting are or you could just go by the taste test.
How to store freshly picked bananas
Unripe – If you have picked your bananas and they are not quite yellow yet there is a way to store them that will speed up the process.
Put your bananas in a brown paper bag and to speed that process up place another ripe piece of fruit in the bag and your bananas should ripen in one day, alternatively just place your bananas next to some ripe fruit.
If you just leave your yellow-green bananas at room temperature then they should ripen in a few days.
Ripe – If your bananas are ripe and you want to stop them from getting overripe too quickly you should wrap the end of the bananas where they all join together in a plastic wrap, this slows down the ripening process.
You should store ripe bananas in the fridge as the cool temperature also slows down the ripening process and extends the life.
If you want to keep your bananas for several months simply peel them and put them in a sealable plastic bag or container and put them in the freezer.
If you don’t peel them before freezing they will turn into a gooey mess when defrosted.
What to do if your banana plant stops producing fruit
If your banana plant is not producing bananas then there are several areas you should consider when trying to figure out why.
The first thing you should check is that the variety you have chosen to grow is a variety that produces fruit as some banana trees are ornamental and don’t produce any bananas.
Next thing to consider is what the temperature you are keeping your plant in is like as if it is too cold (below 60F) it may stop growing and won’t produce any flowers or fruit.
You may have to check the pH of the soil as bananas like the pH to be between 5.5 and 7.0 if it is too low then you should add some organic matter like wood chips or decaying plant leaves and this should sort it.
Check your feeding routine banana plants love water and like to remain damp all year round and should never be let to dry out.
Give the leaves a regular misting with water as this helps create a humidity that the plant loves.
Make sure you never leave your plant in standing water that may gather in the saucer under your plant as that may cause root rot and that could prevent growth.
Make sure you are using a fertilizer that is high in potassium and aren’t over or under applying it.
To grow a banana plant outdoors
To grow a banana plant outdoors the ideal area would be somewhere that receives sun all day has good drainage and some shelter from the wind.
Make sure you choose a variety of banana plant that is suitable to your local climate.
Before planting dig a hole that is approximately 30 cm wide and 30 cm deep and practically fill it back up with a loose rich soil that has organic matter mixed through it.
Plant your corm, sucker or young plant in this hole and gently pat down but not too hard as you don’t want the soil to be completely compact.
Use the same watering and fertilizing routine as you would for an indoor plant.
Common banana plant problems and how to solve them
Banana plants are hardy but like all plants, from time to time they can be affected by a disease that you will need to quickly figure out and take the required action to make your plant healthy again. Some of the diseases are:
Sigatoka – Sigatoka also known as leaf spot is found in poorly drained soil. It starts as small, pale spots on the leaves that enlarge to about half an inch and will turn a purpley black color with a grey center. If this disease spreads over your whole plant it will look like it has been burnt in a fire. To cure this disease use an orchard grade mineral oil but it may take a whole season to get your plant back healthy again.
Black leaf streak – Black leaf streak is a more deadly form of sigatoka. Some varieties of the banana plant are more resistant to this disease than others. Use orchard grade mineral oil to try and treat this disease but the chances of actually curing this disease are limited.
Banana Wilt – Banana wilt or Panama disease starts in the soil and travels through the root system then the corm and into the leaves. The leaves will turn yellow and it will spread from the outer leaves towards the center of the plant. There is no remedy for this if your plant gets this it is basically a dead man walking. It is transmitted through water, wind, and soil so it shouldn’t affect banana plants grown indoors.
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