Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Profile

Written by Iris

Oct 09 2021

Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Profile
Banana Tree (plantain tree) produce large, elegant leaves and an occasional bunch of fruit that certainly lends gravitas to any garden or greenhouse. Although Banana Tree (plantain tree) are delicate plants, some species are hardy and can leave the outdoors in winter, especially in the milder parts of the UK, so it's worth experimenting in the garden.

Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Picture

 Banana Tree
Plantain tree - one of the best indoor trees

Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Info

Common Names Banana tree, plantain tree
Botanical Name Musa spp.
Family Musaceae
Plant Type Herbaceous, perennial
Mature Size 2–30 ft. tall, 1–15 ft. wide (varies widely by species)
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic

Banana Tree (plantain tree) History

Banana trees have been cultivated for thousands of years and their origin seems to be the Malaysian peninsula, New Guinea, and Southeast Asia. Banana trees can reach a height of 7 to 30 feet, depending on many factors such as variety, amount of sun, soil, and overall climate. In fact, Banana trees are a hybrid of two species of banana: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. 

Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Distribution Area

Bananas and other tropical fruit like pineapples are grown in the tropical regions of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Most tropical fruit available in British supermarkets is exported from Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa.
Banana Tree

How to Grow and Care for Banana Tree (Plantain Tree)

How to Grow Banana Tree (Plantain Tree)

  • With Seeds
File one side of the Banana tree seeds lightly and soak in warm water for 24 hours
Sow individually, 1cm (3/8in) deep, in pots of seed compost. Place in a warm location, at a temperature of 21-24ºC (70-75ºF). Germination of fresh seed is quick, but older seed can take up to six months
Gradually move seedlings into more light and increase watering and feeding to encourage growth
  • With Corms
Banana trees are vegetatively propagated, most often from suckers (shoots that grow from a bud at the base of the plant) or from corms (underground bulbs known as rhizomes). The use of whole corms is very laborious so it is more common to grow from small pieces of corm. Planting The desired pieces of the plant are usually planted 30–60 cm (11.8–23.6 in) deep in the soil and should generally be planted at the end of the dry season or the beginning of the wet season. Plant spacing is dependent on the cultivar being planted. Frequent weeding is required until plants are tall enough to shade out competing plants and should be started about 6 weeks after planting. Banana trees are fast growing and require the frequent addition of nutrients as well as additional irrigation in the dry season.
  • With Division
Most Musa species produce offsets or suckers, which may develop into fruiting stems under suitable conditions. Banana trees may also have to be thinned every few years to prevent crowding in the clump. In spring, dig down to the rhizome and detach the sucker carefully, with as many roots as possible. Remove some of the lower leaves and pot in a container just large enough to take them.

How to Care for Banana Tree (Plantain Tree)

  • Light Care
If you're growing banana tree you should keep it in a spot that receives the sun most of the day but preferably sheltered from the wind.
  • Soil Care
Growing Banana tree requires well-draining soil, sandy soil that is rich in organic matters and compost. Buy a good quality potting mix for your banana tree. The soil pH should be around 6 – 7. If your soil is alkaline mix sulfur to decrease the pH.
  • Water Care
Banana trees are tropical and originate in rainforests, so they need a lot of water and plenty of moisture in the air.
  • Temperature and Humidity
Banana plants love humidity, and you may need to go the extra mile to keep their leaves from getting brown, crispy tips, especially in winter. You can try grouping banana plants together with other humidity-loving tropicals to concentrate the humidity in the air as the plants transpire water through their leaves.
  • Fertilizer Care
Banana tree is a fast growing plant and it requires heavy feeding to grow at its full strength. Fertilize young Banana tree when it establishes well with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to help it grow faster. Once your banana tree in pot becomes mature enough to produce fruit, fertilize it with 15:5:30 fertilizer regularly.
  • Pruning Care
Before the banana tree fruits, prune it so there is only one main stem. After Banana tree has been growing for six to eight months, leave one sucker (small shoot at the base of the stem). The Banana tree will replace the main stem in the next growing season. After the fruit is removed, cut the main stem down to 2.5 feet. Remove the rest of the stem in a few weeks, leaving the replacement sucker intact. More about Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Care & Growing Tips.
Banana Tree

Uses of Banana Tree (Plantain Tree)

Banana trees are eaten as a vegetable and are cooked prior to consumption. Banana trees are an important component of many dishes in Western Africa and Caribbean countries. In addition, the leaves of Musa species can be used as a source of fibre for thread, cloth string, thread or can be used as thatch and roofing. The Banana trees are also grown as an effective source of shade for other crops.

Varieties of Banana Tree (Plantain Tree)

Ensete ventricosum AGM: Can be grown outdoors in frost-free areas. Erect, narrowly oblong leaves to 3m in length, with red midrib beneath.
Musa basjoo AGM: Often grown permanently outdoors in sheltered gardens in milder parts of the country, although it has been known to survive in sheltered northerly gardens.
Musa × paradisiaca ‘Rajapuri’: Deep green leaves and may produce edible fruits. Quite hardy and wind-resistant.  
Musa sikkimensis: Bronze markings on the young leaves and trunk. The foliage is fairly wind-resistant.
Musa acuminata ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ AGM: Large leaves, sometimes marked red.
Musa acuminata ‘Zebrina’ AGM: Grown for its red-striped foliage. Suitable for container cultivation.
Musa balbisiana: Attractive bluish-green leaves.
Musa itinerans ‘Yunnan’: Slender stems and wide arching, blue-green leaves.
Banana Tree

Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Common Pests/Diseases

Owners of banana trees need to stay vigilant of the many pests and diseases that can afflict a banana tree. Pests include the following:
Aphids: These pests cause curled and shriveled foliage and can also transmit other diseases that will affect any fruit produced.
Black weevils: If you see jelly-like sap oozing from the plant, you may have black weevils that can be eliminated with pesticides.
Nematodes: This is the banana tree's most common pest that will rot the plant and fruit.
Sap-sucking insects: Mealybugs and red spider mites are also common to banana trees.
Scarring beetle: This pest invades bunches of the plant's fruit and can be eliminated with pesticide.
Thrips: This pest will stain and split the peel of the plant's fruit.
There are many diseases common to banana trees in large orchards and are taken care of with commercial fungicides and pesticides. As for indoor potted banana trees, be on the lookout for root rot, leaf-spot disease, wilt, and powdery mildew.

Banana Tree (Plantain Tree) Companion Plants

Sweet Potatoes: These low-growing root vegetables provide a leafy ground cover that shields the soil, helping to prevent weeds and retain moisture.
Lemongrass: A natural pest deterrent, this aromatic culinary herb will keep annoying bugs at bay, while also helping to block weeds from forming.