Growing Bananas in Your Backyard

Even in temperate climates, you can grow bananas in your backyard. There are numerous edible and flowering types to choose from. In the northern climates, the plants must be grown in pots and brought indoors before frost hits the foliage. In South Florida, we can grow bananas easily in the garden, but the usual result of contented bananas is that they grow to a nuisance size too quickly. This can be remedied ( as you would expect me to say by now), by choosing the right varieties !  

Musa ornata
a flowering type

Musa 'Aeae'
one of the most desired bananas

Musa balbisiana
grown for fiber and flowers

Musa coccinea
a flowering species

Musa 'Pitogo'
Ping Pong banana

Musella lasiocarpa
Himalayan Banana
 I cannot say that there is a Banana Society, but the Rare Fruit Council members will gladly inform you about different varieties. As with almost every type of plant, there are numerous varieties to be had, from dwarf to giant to unbelievable. Some of the more recent introductions are plants with full-sized bunches of fruit on a small plant, sometimes as short as 7 or 8 feet. There are types with colorful leaves, some with unusual fruit types, and even some varieties with burgundy or striped fruit. There is a neat variety called Ping Pong, and another called Buddha Hands. There are bananas for eating, cooking, flower arranging, and fiber production. There are a number of varieties used as cut-flowers, too. For almost any size garden or container, there are banana varieties for you.

In most every type and species, bananas need copious amounts of water and fertilizer while in active growth. Bananas don't seem to be fussy about what type of fertilizer they get, they just need lots of it, and enough water and mulch to keep them from wilting on hot days. In the ground in warm climates, it would be difficult to overwater and over-feed these plants. Many years ago, I heard a commercial banana grower say that he placed a 50 pound bag of fertilizer next to each clump of banana stem, then turn on the water for several hours each night. It would be safe to say that he had really robust plants !

Musa 'Goldfinger'
one of the better tasting varieties
(A James Bond banana? )

Musa zebrina
'Blood Banana'
a foliage type
   One of the comments I hear about this blog is that there are so many varieties available that making a choice is becoming difficult. To this comment I say  "GOOD !" I would much rather have too many choices than too few. It may indeed be too hard to make an easy choice for landscaping in South Florida, but I suggest that for northern gardeners, the idea of growing beautiful bananas in containers is a welcome respite from the same old foliage plants we see in big-box stores. People choose amongst hundreds of choices for building homes, decorating kitchens, and choosing paint and trim styles. With so much good advice available on the Internet and from plant societies, why should choosing plants for a landscape be so much more difficult ?

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens  

1 comment:

  1. Which banana is the one that is commercially grown that we buy and eat everyday from our local food stores? and does it do well grown in south florida?
    (cuz i never see them grown here...only these mini banana fruiting plants)