How to Grow Bananas
For many growing bananas is one of the ultimate tropical paradise like dreams. Although we often refer to them as trees, banana's don't really grow on trees but on plants.. A banana plant certainly looks like a tree, but it is actually the largest herbaceous perennial and belongs to the same family as grasses, palms and orchids. They don't grow by seed, but rhizome, so if you want a banana growing in your garden you'll need to get the rhizome from a specialist nursery or from an online store.
Bananas in their natural habitat
Bananas are often found growing on steep slopes because their roots can die within an hour of being waterlogged. Growing in steep country means that no matter how much it rains, the soil will never remain saturated. They also prefer the tropics, but many gardeners who have a greenhouse or a mini climate such as a sunny corner near a shed can grow bananas successfully. They need full sun, good soil and shelter from prevailing winds.
Soil and Nutrients
The banana plant is a gross feeder so the soil must be slightly acidic and nutrient rich with a high mineral content. This means plenty of compost and manure. Kelp meal and green sand will help to provide the correct nutrients. Plant the rhizome in a hole about a foot square and deep, but keep the union between the rhizome and sucker around 6 inches deep. The eye of the rhizome should be on the uphill side if your site is not level. If growing more than one, the plants need to be at least 10 feet apart.
More About Caring for the Plant
Do not over water the plant - it needs minimal watering until established. Once it has grown to around three quarters of its mature size, you'll notice several suckers coming from around the base of the main stem. Cut off all of these at ground level except one. That one will become the replacement plant for next year. It is called the follower.
The plant will grow about thirty leaves before the fruiting stem appears. It will take three or four months to mature, depending on your climate. It is intriguing to see the flower bracts rolling back to expose the tiny banana hands. These don't remain tiny of course, and as they grow they will start to turn upwards.
Picking the Final Reward
Bananas are usually picked while still green and allowed to ripen in a sealed plastic bag. Adding a red apple or another ripe banana will hasten this process due to the gas they emit. You'll know when to pick them by the flower bract that is easy to break off the tip of the banana. After the crop is harvested the plant should be cut down leaving the follower to take its place.