Banana plants grow in clumps called stools or mats. Bananas propagate by the production of suckers. After the flowering and fruiting, the main trunk dies and is replaced by a sucker. Under the right conditions, most banana plants will flower and fruit within one to two years of planting. The quality of banana fruit depends on the variety of banana plant. Some varieties are suitable for eating fresh while others require cooking.
Banana plants grown in light shade will do well; plants grown in full sun produce more flowers and fruit. They need well-drained soil and will not tolerate standing water. Bananas are a tropical plant, and grow in subtropical regions with protection during freezing weather.
Fertilizer and Water
Mature bananas are heavy feeders, using 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer a month during the summer. The addition of organic matter benefits the plants, as well as extra potassium in the form of 0-0-22 or 0-0-63 applied according to label instructions. Mulch the plants with organic yard waste. Bananas need plenty of water and should be irrigated every two to three days when the weather is dry.
Harvest bananas while still green and allow them to ripen after harvest. When the green fruit has plumped and is rounded in shape, the bananas are ready to cut. Cut the whole bunch and hang in a warm place to ripen.
Bananas prefer a warm to hot climate and are damaged or killed in freezing weather. Protect banana plants during freezing weather by covering them in old blankets. Plants that are killed during freezing weather will often re-grow from the roots. Give the plant a push. If the trunk is soft and falls over, cut the plant back to the mat. If the trunk is strong, trim away dead leaves. New leaves will emerge and possibly flowers as well. Excess wind can also damage banana plants, shredding the leaves and drying out the foliage.
Weed control is very important to banana plants. Weeds compete with the roots for nutrients. A thick layer of organic mulch feeds the plants and helps eliminate weeds.