Banana plants (Musa) are available in many varieties and cultivars. It is not a tree but considered to be a herbaceous perennial. Bananas are the fourth largest fruit crop in the world, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers. The plant flourishes in tropical regions around the world where it can receive 10 to 15 months of consecutive frost-free months to produce fruit.
Banana plants can grow in a wide range of soils. The ideal pH is 5.5 and 6.5. They enjoy ample organic matter in the soil. The plants do not grow well in salty or coastal conditions. Dwarf varieties are easily grown in containers on patios or porches. The plants do not establish a deep root system so they are easily blown over during a wind storm.
The banana plant can tolerate temperatures that dip to 28 degrees F. The plant's rhizomes will perish if the temperature drops to below 22 degrees F. Growth of the entire plant will cease if the temperature falls below 53 degrees F. Growth will also cease if the temperature climbs above 100 degrees F.
The banana plant can never be allowed to dry out or it may not recover. They require large amounts of abundant water during the heat of summer. The plants will not tolerate standing water around their roots which can quickly cause root rot to develop. Apply 3 to 4 inches of peat moss or other mulch around the plants will help the soil retain moisture.
The banana plant requires abundant amounts of fertilizer to maintain its extensive foliage and rapid growth. Fertilize once a month using an 8-10-8 fertilizer. Each plant requires up to 2 lbs. of fertilizer per month. Water the fertilizer into the soil completely. The fertilizer should never touch the base of the banana plant since it could cause the plant to burn.
The propagation of banana plant occurs when the plant produces sucker growth from its base. The suckers develop into tiny banana plants known as 'pups'. The pups can be cut away from the parent plant when they measure 3 feet tall and be planted in separate location or container. When cutting the pup away from the parent plant make sure that there are a few roots attached to ensure good growth.
The bananas form on the plant in the late summer but are not removed until spring. The fruit is harvested when it appears plump and green. The entire clump is cut away from the banana plant.