Banana plants are tough tropical plants that cannot tolerate any cold temperatures. They are fast growing upright plants. Banana plants are not trees, but a large herb that can reach 20 to 25 feet tall. The flower stalk produces groups of 10 to 20 blossoms. The banana fruit is a berry that develops into clusters called hands.
Banana plants are not true trees since they never form a woody stem. They are the largest herbaceous plants in the world. The trunk is actually overlapping leaf bases of giant leaves. The leaves and crown of the banana plant is pruned back to create a reasonable sized plant for a houseplant. Banana plants will survive being cut back to 6 to 12 inches tall.
Banana plants have been cultivated for thousands of years in southeastern Asia. It was introduced to Africa in prehistory times. Around 200 BC, southeastern Asians brought the banana plant to Ecuador.
Banana plants are extremely susceptible to frost so it does not grow outside unless planted in a warm climate. Bananas are grown commercially in Australia, Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, the Canary Islands and south Florida.
Bananas are eaten fresh, put in salads, used to create desserts, baked in bread and used to flavor candy. They contain high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. The plants are used in home landscapes and as ornamental plants. In cooler climates, banana plants are grown as houseplants.
Transplant banana plants is large pots filled with potting soil. Place them in sunny locations. Do not fertilize during the winter and water only once a week. The banana plant will not bloom during the winter because the days are too short. It needs supplemental light to cause it to blossom.
Wash the banana plant thoroughly with soapy water and a sponge whenever you move it inside from outside. Flush the soil with lots and lots of water. Allow the water the run freely out the bottom of the container to discourage pests like ants and sowbugs.
There are two main species of banana plants: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Most banana cultivars are hybrids of these two species.