Banana Plant

Asked April 8, 2020, 5:20 PM EDT

Can you please tell me if some of my banana plants are dead or will they come back to life? The pulp is white and I’m not sure if that means dormancy or plant death. Thank you.

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Here are some tips for growing a Banana Plant. You may need to cut back the dead growth to allow new suckers to form.

Broad-leafed, tropical banana trees make a boring backyard seem like a tropical oasis. Gardeners find cultivating these plants satisfying because they quickly expand into impressive trees. Grow banana trees along a property line for a natural privacy barrier or plant a single tree in a container to add shade to a porch. Easy-going banana plants adapt to their environment, but the plant's basic needs include regular attention if you want to grow tasty fruit. From planting to preparing for winter, banana trees thrive in the right conditions. Most banana plants prefer U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10 with the exception of the Japanese Musa basjoo, which survives with heavy mulch in zone 5.

Choose a sunny location if planting the tree in the yard. Banana trees need 12 hours of bright sun a day. Dig a hole in the ground twice as large across as the tree's container and 1 1/2 times deeper than the pot.

Mix soil for the banana tree planting using a 5-to-1 ratio of well-draining soil to perlite. Do not use potting soil or peat, as banana trees find this too moist. Spread 2 to 4 inches of manure in the bottom of the hole. Fill the hole half full with the prepared soil.

Water the banana tree after planting and every two to three days thereafter. Test the soil to check for dryness by pushing your finger about 1/2 inch deep into the soil. If the soil is dry at that depth, the tree needs water. Banana trees require plenty of moisture except during cooler months. During winter, water only once a week.

Fertilize banana trees weekly during the growing season. Use a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer to encourage plump, full fruit.

Provide a sun shade if you see sun damage on the leaves. Use a posted canopy that filters the sun. Remove the canopy after the leaves heal.

Cut trees down to the ground with pruning shears to winterize them. Cover the pruned tree with mulch to protect the roots from cold. Protect the tree from extremely cold temps by covering it with plastic sheeting.

Growth usually stops by mid-November and starts by mid-February.

The first hard frost will kill the leaves. Remove them. Cut the trunk to about 24 inches with a pruning saw. In spring, the growing tip inside the trunk will begin to grow. Cover the base and cut end of the plant with the dead leaves. Colder areas need a mulch at least 24 inches deep.

Remove any mulch in the spring after growth starts. Dead plant parts can be chipped and used as a soil amendment. If it gets unusually cold, wrap trunks with fiberglass insulation and cover with plastic to prevent freezing. Flowering can start at any time but must start by April if fruit and flowers are to mature.

Offshoots can be left in place to form a broad clump. Or they can be safely transplanted after they are 2 feet high or more, during late May, June or July. Only the newest leaves will survive.

Hope this helps!