How to Care for Red Banana Plants

Overview

The red banana tree, also known as the "blood" banana, is known for its smaller, sweeter red-skinned fruits and lush tropical foliage. A native of Central America, the red banana is a fast grower that spreads through underground rhizomes. It is an ideal addition to tropical gardens in temperate climates such as Florida, Southern California and parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. Caring for a red banana tree is relatively easy, although there are certain elements critical to the plant's survival.

Step 1

Keep the red banana tree watered so that the soil is always moist. Do not let the soil go dry. At the same time, don't saturate the ground, either--too much water, as is the case with most plants, can lead to root rot and various other ailments.

Step 2

Fertilize regularly, once a month, with a balanced fertilizer such as 8-10-8. Red banana trees are hearty feeders and need nutrients, particularly for fruit and flower production. Spread the fertilizer evenly around the plant in a circle extending four to eight feet from its main trunk. Use up to two pounds for a mature plant, and one pound for a younger plant.

Step 3

Periodically check the soil with a testing kit. Red bananas do best in well-drained mildly acidic soil with a PH between 5.5 and 6.5, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers. If the pH is any higher or lower, the red banana tree might have trouble absorbing critical nutrients like phosphorous, calcium and magnesium. If there's not enough acid in your soil (pH of 7 or above) amend with peat moss. If there's too much acid (pH of less than 5) add ground limestone. Follow the directions on the bag to ensure you use the proper quantity.

Step 4

Once the red banana tree has borne fruit, it's time to completely cut down its stalk. According to the California Rare Fruit Growers, "when the fruit is harvested, cut the fruiting stalk back to 30 inches above the ground. Remove the stub several weeks later. The stalk can be cut into small pieces and used as mulch."

Tips and Warnings

  • Red banana trees are very susceptible to wind damage. If your plant is in an area with high winds, consider replanting next to a building or wall to give it some protection.

Things You'll Need

  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Soil tester
  • Peat moss
  • Limestone

References

  • Desert Tropicals: Red Banana
  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Banana
  • PlanTea: Acid or Alkaline?
Keywords: growing red banana tree, blood bananas, caring for banana trees

About this Author

Thomas K. Arnold is the publisher and editorial director of Home Media Magazine and a regular contributor on entertainment to "USA Today", "The Hollywood Reporter," "San Diego Magazine" and other publications. An alumnus of San Diego State University, Arnold has appeared on such TV shows as "CNN", "E! Entertainment" and "G4's Attack of the Show" to discuss home entertainment and technology issues.