Flowerdale Nursery  & Landscaping
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Flowerdale Nursery & Landscaping

Banana 



Bananas Musa acuminata & paradisiaca hybrids are giant tropical herbs.  Bananas are native to Southern Asia, India, & Australia. Bananas are one of the most popular & widely grown & consumed fruits around the world.  Home grown Bananas are a real treat, often boasting complex fruity sweet flavors not found in the supermarket varieties. Most modern Banana varieties are seedless (or have small vestigial seeds) however the original wild plants have large seeds. The foliage & tender “stem hearts” are edible & are used in cooking.   There are two types of Bananas; “Dessert” type Bananas are eaten ripe from the plant, while Plantains are best suited for cooking. In general Plantains are larger more robust plants than traditional Dessert Bananas.  All types of Bananas are excellent accent plants that bring the tropical look to the landscape. Dwarf Banana variety’s make great container plants. Bananas are well behaved with roots that are shallow & will not damage pipes of masonry.  The Banana makes a fiber that is used to make textiles & paper.

What Bananas Like

Exposure: Bananas grow well in full sun & will tolerate partial shade.  Bananas look better when their foliage is not tattered excessively by strong winds (however this does little harm to the plants).  Bananas are frost tender & are severely damaged when temperatures drop to 25 degrees or lower. The roots of Bananas are hardier to cold than the rest of the above ground plant, the root will often re sprout new stems. Roots are hardy to 20 degrees for short periods. The best areas for growing Bananas are the relatively frost free climates of Southern California zones 18 through 24. Bananas luxuriate in heat & dislike cold wet conditions. 

Soil:  Bananas grow best in loamy rich well drained soil amended with compost. Bananas have shallow feeder roots that absorb water & nutrients quickly. Bananas resent being planted in saline, heavy, or poorly drained soils.  Adding a layer of organic compost, once or twice a year as mulch will also increase the soils fertility.  

Irrigation:  Bananas require irrigation about three to four times a month during warm weather & active growth. During the winter irrigate once a month only if rains fail.  Bananas are sensitive to salts in the water (causes leaf tip burn) to remedy this irrigate deeply so that salts do not build up in the soil; compost mulch also works well to absorb these salts.

Diet:  Feeding Bananas once a season (or once every three months) provides evenly spaced feedings that will sustain growth year round. Fertilize with organic granular fertilizers.  We recommend Dr. Earth Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer. 

Pruning: The stem that produces the flower & fruit dies after the fruit ripens. Removing the spent stem will encourage new stems to form at the base of the old stem. Remove all dead foliage & spent stems to prevent disease. Thin out clumps so only the strongest & most vigorous stems remain. Bananas can be divided easily; this is best done in spring.

Harvesting:  Bananas produce large clusters of fruits that hang down from the stem spring & summer. The fruit are ready when they turn color & become slightly soft to the touch. You can remove single fruit or the entire fruit cluster at the time of harvesting. Store bought Bananas are often much more yellow (due to gassing) than home grown Bananas (which are more brown when ripe).  From the time a Banana is planted it usually takes between 15 to 30 months before the plant matures & produces fruits. Fruiting Bananas must be staked to prevent them from falling over.

Pollination:  Bananas are self fertile.

Frost Protection: When the temperature drops below 32 degrees but stays above 28 to 25 degrees we experience a “light” or “white” frost.  This type of frost causes superficial damage to young growth.  When the temperature drops below 28 to 25 degrees we then experience a “black” or “killing” frost.  This type of frost causes greater damage to the plant tissues.  The duration of any frost is also important to consider.  The longer the temperatures are below freezing the greater the damage.  There are several ways to protect tropical fruit trees from frost damage: 

·         Covering your plant with a sheet or tarp-like material will provide protection from temperatures down to 20 degrees.  Note, any foliage that touches the frost barrier may be damaged.

·         Circulating the air using fans is also helpful for frost protection down to 20 degrees.

·         Believe it or not, spraying your plants with water can actually insulate the plants.  Liquid water itself will provide heat, & as water freezes into ice it gives off heat.

·         Provide some sort of external heat source.  Active sources include heaters, while passive sources absorb heat during the day & radiate it out at night.   Examples of passive heat include barrels of water, stacks of boulders, & the earth itself.

Varieties

Cardaba- This plantain type banana is hard to find. It originates from Thailand & is widely grown there. The creamy green fruits are angular & thick; they are versatile being good eaten ripe from the tree or cooked.  This banana grows 8 to 12 feet tall.

Cavendish- This is the most common “dessert” variety of Banana grown. It is disease resistant & is a reliable producer. The fruit is similar to what we think of as a “classic” banana. Dwarf Cavendish fruit when only 4 to 6 feet tall!  Regular Cavendish grows to 15 feet tall.

Goldfinger- This is a relatively new “dessert” variety from Australia. The fruit are attractive & are high quality. Goldfinger is very disease resistant & is tolerant of less than perfect growing conditions. It grows 12 to 15 feet tall.

Ice Cream- An excellent “dessert” variety producing large fruits to 9 inches. They are sweet, aromatic, with a creamy texture. This is one of the best tasting bananas. Ice Cream produces large plants that grow 15 to 20 feet high & wide.

Manzano- This “dessert” type Banana has a unique apple like flavor. The graceful plants grow 10 to 12 feet tall & wide. Fruit reach 6 inches & ripen creamy yellow with large brown splotches.  From the day it is planted it takes 15 months to bear fruit.

Mysore- A “dessert” variety comes from South East Asia & is known for its tasty small fat fruit formed in huge clusters. The flavor is sweet & tangy & is great cooked or eaten ripe from the tree. The skin is very thin. The plants grow 15 feet tall & wide. 

Rajapuri- From India a wonderful “dessert” variety that is perfect for small gardens. The plants grow to 8 feet tall & wide. The clusters of sweet high quality fruit are supported on stocky sturdy plants. The foliage is extra large but wind resistant.

 

 

 

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