Plants

Cultivation and care of banana trees

The Muses, or better known as banana trees, are plants of the Musaceae genus. Some are known for their rich bananas, and others for their ornamental beauty, but what they all have in common is that they grow very fast. In a very few years they can reach six meters.

They are very easy to care plants, which should never lack water, since they live near marshy lands and wetlands, in tropical jungles around the world.

Origin and characteristics of banana trees

Banana trees are megaforbias, that is, giant perennial herbs, belonging to the genus Musa, originating in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, but which have managed to become naturalized in the Middle East, Africa, America and the Mediterranean. They present a rhizomatous underground stem from which the leaves are born. These are simple, whole and generally large, measuring up to 3 or 4 meters.

The flowers are hermaphroditic or unisexual, and are grouped in spikes or panicles with spathe. When a stem blooms, it dies, which is why at least one sucker must always be left behind, which sprouts from the rhizome. The fruits have the shape of a berry or capsule, inside which we can find -but not always- dark colored seeds.

Main species

Musa acuminata

Image – Wikimedia/ Miya.m

Known as the Malaysian plantain or red plantain, it is a native Australasian herb. It reaches a height of 7 meters, and has a tendency to produce numerous suckers from the rhizome. The leaves are long, up to 3 meters long by 60cm wide. The fruit, called a banana, is a false edible berry about 8 to 13cm long and up to 3cm in diameter, rarely containing seeds.

It resists very weak frosts down to -2ºC once adult and acclimatized, but prefers mild, warm climates.

Related article:Red banana (Musa acuminata)

Musa basjoo

Image – Wikimedia/ Illustratedjc

Known as the Japanese banana, it is a species native to southern China that reaches a maximum height of 8.2 meters, although the normal is that it does not exceed 6m. Its leaves are up to 2 meters long by 70cm wide. The fruit is a false berry about 10cm long by 2-3cm wide, inedible.

It resists up to -15ºC, but at those temperatures only the rhizome survives if it is well protected. The aerial part (stem, leaves) is maintained as long as the temperature does not drop below -4ºC, although it may suffer damage.

Muse paradisiaca

Image – Wikimedia/ David J. Stang

Known as plantain, banana, banana, banana, mole or banana, it is a herb that grows to a height of 7 meters, with leaves up to 3 meters long by 90cm wide. The fruit is a false berry between 7 and 30cm long and up to 5cm wide, edible.

You don’t like the cold too much. It is a plant that will grow well in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate climates where the temperature does not drop below -3ºC.

What is the care of banana trees?

Location

The banana trees will have to be planted in a place in the garden where they have a lot of direct light, and where they can grow without problems. You have to think that they are plants that take up a lot of space, so it is advisable to plant them at a minimum distance of 3 meters from other tall plants.

Distance between banana trees

If we take into account its characteristics (stems up to 30cm thick, leaves up to 4 meters long, production of suckers) the ideal would be to plant them at a distance of about 6 meters. But I will also tell you that if you are going to remove said suckers, that distance may be less, 4-5m.

Earth

  • Garden: in well-drained land. If the one we have compacts easily, we can make a bigger hole of 1m x 1m, and with the earth that we have removed, we can mix it with perlite for example.
  • Pot: they are not plants that can be in pots for a long time, unless we get one of at least 60cm in diameter (at least) for more or less the same depth.

Irrigation

It needs frequent waterings, every day in spring and summer, and about four times a week in autumn-winter. In the event that it rains frequently in our area, we can water from time to time.

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If you want to pay, it is advisable to use an organic fertilizer, such as guano or manure from some herbivorous animal (cow, horse,…), since it is about plants whose fruits are for consumption.

If a chemical fertilizer is used, it is very important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and respect the safety period that must be left before harvesting the fruits.

We will pay them from spring to early fall.

Multiplication

Banana trees are plants that multiply by seeds and suckers. Let’s know how to proceed in each case:

Seeds

The seeds are sown in summer-autumn, as soon as they have been extracted from the fruits. Do not wait for spring as they have a very short viability period.

The step by step to follow is as follows:

  1. First, we will fill a seedling tray (sold here ) with seedbed soil (sold here ).
  2. Then we will sow a maximum of two seeds in each socket.
  3. Next, we will sprinkle some sulfur to prevent fungus.
  4. Finally, we will water and place the seedbed outside, in semi-shade.

Keeping the substrate always moist but not flooded, they will germinate in about 10 days.

Young

They can be separated at the end of spring, using a small hand saw and then planting them in other parts of the garden or in pots with universal substrate mixed with perlite in equal parts.

When to cut the bananas from the banana tree?

If they are for family consumption, we can collect them when they are already yellow. But if we see that it has many, we will cut some even if they are a little green and we will wrap them with newspaper for a few days.

Related article:When is the banana harvested

Rusticity

Most of the species of banana trees do not tolerate frost, except one, the Musa basjoo, which can bear up to -15ºC.

They can be kept near the sea, a little sheltered, but during the first two years it is possible that their leaves are damaged by the saline wind. As they are strengthened, they will produce leaves that are increasingly resistant to salt.

What are they for?

Image – Wikimedia/ Mokkie// Musa x paradisiaca »Ae Ae»

Ornamental

They are very decorative plants, which bring a tropical touch to the garden. They are very easy to care for and are very grateful, since as long as they have plenty of sun and water, as well as a well-drained soil, they will grow that will be a pleasure to see them.

Edible

There are several species of Musa that produce edible fruits, such as the Musa acuminata or the Musa paradisiaca. These fruits are eaten as a dessert, in fruit salads, ice creams, smoothies, juices… The nutritional value of banana, per 100 grams, is as follows:

  • Calories: 94 kcal
  • Proteins: 1.2 gr
  • Fat: 0.3 gr
  • Carbohydrates: 20 gr
  • Fiber: 3.4 gr
  • Iron: 0.6 gr
  • Magnesium: 38 mg
  • Potassium: 350 mg
  • Phosphorus: 28 mg

Other uses

It is common that in their areas of origin (and in other parts of the world) the leaves are used as an umbrella. As if that were not enough, the fibers of some species, such as Musa basjoo, are used to produce textiles.

Where to buy banana trees?

We will get them in nurseries and garden stores, both physical and online. Also here:



Musa Tropicana (MUSA…

€ 16.50

View deal

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