Q. How do I care for a banana plant outdoors?
Growing a banana plant is fun and easy with the right variety. You may want to choose a dwarf variety, such as 'Super Dwarf Cavendish' or 'Dwarf Red', that is suitable for growing in a small home garden. There is even a 'Super Dwarf' that grows to only 3 feet tall, for those who are really cramped for space.
When growing your banana plant (especially for fruit), never allow more than three stems--one large, one medium and one baby stem for best management. Use a sharp knife to cut off other stems. Cut somewhat below the soil line. You will have to cut off unneeded stems regularly.
Use a high-potassium fertilizer when you feed. Buy a formulation similar to 5-10-10 or 10-20-30. Water often and deeply. Again, make sure there is good drainage too. Never let your banana plant sit in a pool of water, which can cause rot.
Mulch your bananas thickly...say about 2-3 inches of mulch (for added moisture retention).
As the plant grows, the older leaves will yellow as new leaves appear. You can elect to do nothing and the yellow leaves will shrivel and become re-absorbed into the plant as food. If you do not like the appearance of yellow leaves, use a sharp knife to cut them off.
If you want to overwinter your container-grown bananas, move to a sunroom or an above-freezing garage or cellar. Also, banana plants grown in a garden can be dug and lifted out of the ground before winter and stored in an area that stays above freezing. The plant will have yellow leaves, but the trunk and some of the roots will be alive for the next growing season. This is one way to grow bananas in the North. This method also helps to contain their size, so they are manageable.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service