Sunday, March 21, 2010

Goin Bananas!

Well, hopefully Winter is finally going Bye Bye. We are forecasted to be about 5-10 degrees below normal still, but that sure beats Snow and freezing temps!
I was reading an e-mail from my friend at Simply Bananas.
These couple of sentences really tell all about this Winter.
"The extended cold spells have no doubt taken its toll on the banana plants. Here at the Simply Bananas Banana Plantation, we had full freeze thru on all plants. As a result, most have been cut way down. The super cold hardy not-edible-fruit producing Basjoos have shown the most resilience showing green as early as last week.
We are recommending cutting the plants' stalk until the core looks fresh/alive. In some plants this may be very close to the ground. While its possible that all above ground growth may be damaged, the winter should not have caused any permanent damage to well mulched roots. I suspect that in the next few weeks we'll see new pups and other new growth".

I agree with what he said, I had even already done it before I got the letter. My banana plants where hit HARD this Winter. I have cut them all back to the ground.
I plan on hitting them with a good dose of Potassium later this week. Or maybe next week, depending on if I can get the yard cleaned up.

Bananas are actually very easy to grow. You can get fruit here in Charleston, if you pick the right variety.
The banana and plantain are native to southeast Asia, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. Bananas are believed to have been introduced to Africa in prehistoric times. Recent evidence suggests bananas were introduced into the New World, down in Ecuador, by southeast Asians around 200 B.C., and more recently by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in the early 16th century. The Portuguese introduced bananas into the Canary Islands and the Spanish to the Island of Hispaniola during the 1500s.
Simply Bananas is here in the Charleston area and grows: Pisang Raja, Saba, Orinoco, Raja puri, Ele Ele, Basjoo, and Ice Cream bananas. He discusses fruit and gets many e-mails from folks here that get fruit from the plants he sells. I have an Ice Cream Banana, though I have yet to get it to fruit. I am also growing it in a container, which makes my work even harder. I have some non-edible ones in the ground, they do fantastic. Maybe I should switch them.
I was doing the research for this article and came across some things bananas are good for that I had never thought of.
* They make great windbreaks or screens,
* they can keep the sun off the hot western side of your house,
* they utilize the water and nutrients in waste drains (think washing water or outdoor shower and runoff from your yard and street),
* the leaves can be fed to horses, cows and other grazers,
* the dried remains of the trunks can be used for weaving baskets and mats.

The NEEDS of bananas. They like rich, dark, fertile soils. They require a huge amount of water. The huge soft leaves evaporate a lot, and you have to keep up the supply. Bananas also need high humidity to be happy. Lots of nitrogen and potassium, think Chicken manure here. The most common cause of death for bananas is lack of water. The most common cause for not getting fruit is starvation. They like lots of warmth, not too hot and not too cold. Temperatures below 28 F may kill plants to the ground. However, new growth usually sprouts from the underground rhizome with the return of warm weather.
One thing to keep in mind is, they are not even trees! Yes, you have heard about the grove of banana trees. Banana trunks consists of all the leaf stalks wrapped around each other. New leaves start growing inside, below the ground. They push up through the middle and emerge from the center of the crown. So does the flower, which finally turns into a bunch of bananas. A banana plant takes about 9 months to grow up and produce a bunch of bananas. Then the mother plant dies. But around the base of it are many little baby plants also called pups. You can cut the pups out and plant them and have new banana plants or just leave them to form a thicket.
I mentioned earlier that I grow mine in Containers. You need a really large container! I water it more often and feed it more often than somebody that grows it in the ground. I do this because I rent and I can take it with me when/if I move. I can also change my landscaping around a little easier.
Hopefully, this has encouraged you to go out and try growing a banana. Even those in the bitter cold up North can give it a whirl. I will leave you with the wisdom of my friend at Simply Bananas.....After all...doesn't everyone want a bigger Banana?
Happy Growing!


  1. Did you have any rajapuris? If so, how did they do?

  2. Hey Rainforest, No haven't tried the Rajapuris. It's on my list to get though.