The short stature of dwarf banana plants makes them particularly suitable to be grown in containers or as accents in the garden. As long as weather is warm, soil is moist and organically rich and sunlight is plentiful, banana plants (Musa spp.) will grow quickly, with many paddle-like leaves sprouting from stiff, trunk-like stems. In frost-free tropical regions, the dwarf banana plant is evergreen, while in regions with mild winters but subfreezing temperatures, the banana plant will die but grow back in spring once the soil warms.
Select a location where the banana plant will receive full to partial sun no less than four hours each day.
Ensure the soil in which the banana plant will be grown is fertile, deep, moist but well-draining and not alkaline in pH. A loam or sandy soil that is rich in organic matter is ideal. Heavy clay soils should be tilled and organic matter added to improve its texture and drainage.
Consider growing the banana plant in the ground in regions where frosts never occur or where winters are mild but mild subfreezing temperatures occur. In USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 through 15, the banana plant will survive outdoors. In regions colder than this, the banana plant will be completely frozen during the winter and will need to be dug up in autumn and overwintered indoors.
Provide warmth and fertile soil during the growing season. The warmer the soil and air, the faster and more robust the foliage. Compost in the soil is a terrific way to make the ground more fertile, but occasional applications of a balanced granular slow-release fertilizer (10-10-10) is good, as are infrequent liquid fertilizer applications per the product label directions.
Planting the Dwarf Banana
Roughly measure the size of the root ball of the banana plant, whether bare-rooted or in a container purchased from the garden center. Especially note the depth of the root ball, from its bottom to the top of the ball's soil line.
Dig a hole the same depth as the banana plant's root ball with a shovel in either the ground or a decorative patio container. Make the hole twice as wide as the root ball, if space allows.
Add compost or other rich organic matter to the pile of soil removed from the hole. Mix it with the shovel so it is well incorporated. This is particularly important if the native soil is very sandy or has heavy clay, as the organic matter will improve the tilt, texture and drainage of the soil.
Set the banana plant in the hole, ensuring it rests at the same depth in the hole as it had been growing. Do not plant too deeply. Add or remove soil from the bottom of the hole as needed to match the root ball's top to the top rim of the hole.
Replace soil around the root ball, filling the hole. Do not place excess soil atop the root ball and base of the stems or leaves.
Tamp the soil down around the root ball with your hands and finger, compacting it lightly. Add more soil as needed to attain the correct soil level that matches the top of the root ball.
Scatter leftover soil evenly in the garden area, or create a small berm moat around the plant to catch irrigation water. Container soil may be bagged and used for other projects.
Gently water the newly planted banana plant with a hose or watering can. Add enough water so that the soil is moist but the water drains from the soil within five to 10 minutes.
Scatter compost or organic mulch atop the watered area around the banana plant. This top dressing will help retain soil moisture, keep soil temperatures moderate and reduce weed competition. A layer 3 to 4 inches deep is ideal, spread 12 to 24 inches outward from the plant but kept 2 inches away from contact with the plant stems.
Things You Will Need
- Garden shovel
- Hose or watering can
- Popular varieties of dwarf banana include Dwarf Cavendish and the very short-growing Extra-Dwarf Cavendish, which matures no taller than 3 feet and is perfect for containers. This latter cultivar is also known as Dwarf Parfitt.
- Although banana plants can overwinter in the soil in cold but mild winter regions such as USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7, 8 and 9, they may not flower and fruit in these areas if the summer is not long and warm enough. If your garden is in a USDA Zone colder than Zone 7, the banana plant must be brought indoors to overwinter and be replanted outside in spring after the danger of frost has passed.