Growing Your Own Banana Tree or Banana Plant
I've always loved tropical plants. I purchased my banana plant probably fifteen years ago from a nursery outside of Conroe, Texas on my way home from a business trip. I planted it next to the house just outside my bedroom window. I have a metal roof and there was nothing nicer than to hear the rain coming down and the droplets hitting the roof then running on to the big leaves of the banana plant.
A couple of years ago we were experiencing more spiders than usual and the pest control man suggested we move the banana plant further away from the house. We did so and the plant just hasn't been the same since. Where it used to grow to about 8 foot tall, now it does good to get 2 feet tall.
I decided to look online to learn more about them. I actually discovered some interesting information that I thought I'd share.
Many people refer to the banana plant as a banana tree. Due to their large trunk (called a pseudo-stem) and tall size they are mistaken for trees. However, the banana plant is actually the largest of all flowering herbaceous plants. Bananas are native to Southeast Asia, but are grown in at least 107 countries.
I know you've noticed that bananas are sold in clusters at the store, but did you realize the cluster is called a hand? Each banana is then called a finger. These hand clusters grow in what is called a bunch or the banana stem.
In Asian cultures the banana is cooked and both the skin and inside are eaten. In Western cultures, we discard the skin and eat the inside raw. Then there's your mama's old fashioned banana bread made with over-ripened bananas someone forgot to eat. Bananas are also dehydrated whole or in slices called banana chips. Dried bananas can also be ground into banana flour.
The strings than run the length of the banana between the skin and inside are called phloem bundles. That's something I bet you didn't know. Impress your friends with that tidbit.
Have you ever dissected a banana? You can break it into three long pieces that are triangular with rounded outside edges. Try it. It's sometimes easier to try it with smaller sections of the banana.
Bananas are a valuable source of vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium.
Banana plants can grow up to 25 feet tall with leaves as big as 9ft long by 2 ft wide. Each leaf sprouts from the center of the stem and unfolds. When the leaf first emerges from the center of the stalk it is whole, but the wind easily tears the leaves.
Did you realize that the bright yellow color we consider normal for a ripe banana is actually a side-effect of the artificial ripening that is done to them? If they had been allowed to ripen naturally they would have been a less visually appealing brownish yellow.
Great Resources & Links
Nutrional Value of a Raw Banana
Banana, raw, edible parts
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Carbohydrates 22.84 g
- Sugars 12.23 g
- Dietary fiber 2.6 g
Fat 0.33 g
Protein 1.09 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.031 mg 2%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.073 mg 5%
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.665 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.334 mg 7%
Vitamin B6 0.367 mg 28%
Folate (Vit. B9) 20 μg 5%
Vitamin C 8.7 mg 15%
Calcium 5 mg 1%
Iron 0.26 mg 2%
Magnesium 27 mg 7%
Phosphorus 22 mg 3%
Potassium 358 mg 8%
Zinc 0.15 mg 1%
One banana is 100-150 g.
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
What Did I Learn From All of This?
From all the research I did, I figured out that the location of my banana plant probably isn't the best. I don't think it gets enough water where it's at, nor enough fertilizer. I think I'll move it back next to the house or put it in a large pot.