DESCRIPTION

The banana is an edible fruit, botanically a berry, produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called plantains. The fruit is variable in size, color and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. The fruits grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant. Almost all modern edible parthenocarpic (seedless) bananas come from two wild species Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific names of most cultivated bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, and Musa paradisiaca for the hybrid Musa acuminata M. balbisiana, depending on their genomic constitution. The old scientific name Musa sapientum is no longer used.

 

HOW TO GROW 

1.Look up your area’s temperature and humidity. Humidity should be at least 50% and as constant as possible. Ideal daytime temperatures are between 26–30ºC (78–86ºF), with night temperatures no lower than 20ºC(67ºF). Acceptable temperatures are warm and very rarely reach lower than 14ºC(57ºF) or higher than 34ºC(93ºF).

  • Bananas can take up to a year to produce fruit, so it’s important to know what range of temperatures it will experience throughout the year.
  1. Find the sunniest area in your yard.Banana plants grow best with 12 hours of direct, bright sunlight each day.They can still grow with less (more slowly), but you should determine where in your yard receives the most sun.
    3. Choose an area with good drainage. Bananas require a lot of water, but are prone to rotting if the water does not drain adequately.
  • To test drainage, dig a hole 0.3m (1 ft.) deep, fill with water, and allow to drain. Refill once empty, then measure how much water is left after 1 hour.Approximately 7-15 cm water drainage per hour is ideal for banana plants.
  • A raised garden bedor adding 20% perlite to the soil assists drainage.
  • This is especially important if you are using a banana plant that does not yet have leaves, or had the leaves removed for shipping. Leaves help evaporate excess water.
  1. Allow sufficient space.While banana plants are technically herbs, they are often mistaken for trees for a reason. Some varieties and individuals can reach 7.6 m (25ft.) in height, although you should check the source of your banana plant or local banana growers for a more accurate estimate for your locale and variety.
  • Each banana plant requires a hole at least 30cm(1ft.) wide and 30cm (1ft.) deep. Larger holes should be used in areas of high wind (but will require more soil).
  • Keep banana plants at least 4.5m(15ft) from trees and shrubs (not other banana plants) with large root systems that may compete with the bananas’ water.
  • Multiple banana plants help each other maintain beneficial humidity and temperature levels, as long as they are planted at the correct distance. If you can, plant several plants in a clump with 2–3m(6.5–10ft.) between each one, or a large number of banana plants 3–5m(10–16ft.) from each other.
  • Dwarf varieties require less space.

5.Consider growing it indoors. If your outdoors environment is inadequate, you’ll need an indoor location with similar requirements (12 hours bright light and constant warm temperature and humidity).

  • You’ll need a large planting container sufficient for its adult size, or be willing to transplant the banana into a larger pot whenever necessary.
  • Always use a pot with a drainage hole in a location where water can drain well.
  • Consider a dwarf variety if you don’t have sufficient indoor space.
  • Use half the amount of fertilizer when growing a plant indoors, or cease entirely if you don’t have room for a larger plant. (This may be suitable for a houseplant you don’t intend to harvest fruit from.)
  1. Select your planting material.You can acquire a banana sucker (small shoot from the base of a banana plant) from another grower or plant nursery, or buy one online. A banana rhizome or corm is the base from which suckers grow. Tissue cultures are produced in laboratories to create higher fruit yield. If you’re transplanting a mature plant, prepare a hole appropriate to its size and have an assistant help you.
  • The best suckers to use are 1.8-2.1m (6–7ft) in height and have thin, sword-shaped leaves, although smaller suckers should work well if the mother plant is healthy Big, round leaves are a sign that the sucker is trying to make up for a lack of adequate nutrition from the mother plant
  • If the sucker is still attached to a mother plant, remove it by cutting forcefully downward with a clean shovel. Include a significant portion of the underground base (corm) and its attached roots.
  • A rhizome (corm) without notable suckers can be chopped into pieces. Each piece with a bud (proto-sucker) will grow into a banana plant, but this will take longer than using a sucker.
  1. Trim the plant.Cut off any dead, insect-eaten, rotting or discolored sections of the plant. If most of the plant is affected, dispose of it away from other plants and find another planting material.
  • If using a sucker, remove all but a few centimeters (1–2 inches) of the roots. This will limit the chance of disease. You can also remove any leaves in excess of five and/or cut the top of the plant off with a slanting cut to increase the amount of sunlight that warms the soil for root growth and rot prevention.
  1. Dig a hole for each plant.Remove any plants or weeds that are growing on the planting site, then dig a circular hole 30cm wide and 30 cm deep (1ft. x 1 ft.) A larger hole will provide greater support for the plant but require more soil.
  • If planting indoors, instead use a planting pot this size or larger.

9.Mostly fill the hole with loose, rich soil. Leave several centimeters (a few inches) of space at the top to encourage drainage.

  • Do notuse potting soil, nor your regular garden soil unless you are sure it is suitable. Soil mixes intended for cacti can produce good results, or ask other growers of the same banana variety.
  • The ideal soil acidity for bananas is between pH 5.5 and 7. Acidity pH 7.5 or higher can kill the plant.
  1. Place the plant upright in the new soil.The leaves should be pointing upward and the soil should cover the roots and 1.5–2.5cm (0.5–1 inches) of the base. Tamp the soil down to keep it in place but don’t pack too firmly.

    11. Fertilize monthly a short distance from the trunk. Use store bought fertilizer, compost, manure, or a mixture of these. Add fertilizer immediately after planting in an even ring around the banana plant and repeat at monthly intervals.

  • Young plants require 0.1–0.2kg (0.25–0.5lbs) each month, rising to 0.7–0.9kg (1.5–2lbs) for an adult plant. Increase gradually as your plant grows.
  • If the temperature falls below 14ºC(57ºF) or if the banana plant hasn’t grown since last month, skip the fertilization
  • Fertilizers are usually labeled with three numbers (N-P-K) representing the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus (Potash), and Potassium. Bananas require very high amounts of Potassium, but the other nutrients are important as well. You can use a balanced fertilizer (three numbers roughly equal) or a fertilizer that addresses deficiencies in your soil
  • Do not use manure produced in the last few weeks, as the heat it releases while decomposing can damage the plan
  1. Water frequently but avoid overwatering.Underwatering is a common cause of banana plant death, but overwatering can cause the roots to rot.
  • In warm growing weather without rain, you may need to water your plant daily, but only if the top 1.5–3 cm (0.5–1in.) of soil is dry. Test with your finger before watering.
  • Reduce the amount of water per session if the plant is sitting in water for long periods. (That can cause root rot).
  • In cooler temperatures when the banana is barely growing, you may only need to water once every week or two. Remember to check soil moisture.
  • Leaves help evaporate excess moisture, so be careful not to soak (just moisten) a young plant that has not yet grown leaves
  • Water the ring of fertilizer as well to help it soak into the soil.
  1. Add mulch.Remove dead leaves and banana plants and chop them up to place around the live plants. Other yard waste and wood ash can also be added to return nutrients to the soil.
  • Check the mulch regularly and remove any weeds that are growing. These can compete with the banana plant.
  1. Keep an eye out for discolorations, dying leaves, and pests.If diseased plants are discovered, identify and treat them immediately, or uproot them. Insect pests should also be controlled as soon as they are found. Nitrogen and potassium deficiencies are the two most common nutritional problems for bananas, so learn to recognize the signs.
  • Signs of nitrogen (N) deficiency: very small or pale green leaves; reddish pink leaf sheathes; poor growth rate; small fruit bunches
  • Signs of potassium (K) deficiency: rapid appearance of orange/yellow color on leaves followed by leaf death; small or broken leaves; delayed flowering; small fruit bunches
  1. De-sucker your plants.Once your plant is mature and has several suckers, remove all but one to improve fruit yield and plant health.
  • Cut all but one sucker off at ground level and cover the exposed plant with soil. Repeat with a deeper cut if they grow back.
  • The surviving sucker is called the follower and will replace the mother plant after it dies.
  • Exceptionally healthy plants can support two followers.
  1. Support the plant to avoid toppling of the plant due to strong wind or bunch weight.by using rope or bamboo sticks.
    17. Wait for the purple flower to emerge. The typical banana plant flowers in 6-7 months under ideal conditions, but may take up to a year depending on the climate.[26]
  • Never remove the leaves around the flower, as they protect it from the sun
  • Do not confuse this with the Banana Bunchy Top Virus. See Tips below.

18.Wait for the petals to withdraw and reveal banana bunches. This may take an additional 2 months or longer.Each bunch is called a “hand” and each individual banana, a “finger”

19.Once all bunches are revealed, remove the extra portions. The remaining flower bud and/or tiny extra banana hand are the sterile male portions of the plant. The hand should wither off on its own, but removing the flower bud will cause the plant to put more energy into growing fruit.

  • The male portion of the flower is called the “banana heart”. Some varieties of banana plants produce edible banana flowers that are popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, but not all are suitable for consumption.
  • Use a stick to prop up the plant if the bunches are dragging it down.
  1. Cover the bunch with plastic covers.This will protect the fruit from insects and other dangers, but they must be open at both ends to allow adequate air and water flow.
  • Tie the nylon or plastic sack with soft twine several inches from the first hand.
  1. Harvest bananas when the flowers or plant are dying.The small flower at the tip of each banana will become dry and easily rub off, or the banana plant will lose most of its leaves. This is a good time to harvest the fruit.
  • Cut a notch halfway into the tree, opposite the side of the bunch.
  • Carefully let the tree bend and cut off the bunch.
  • The fruit will ripen quickly once harvested, so you may want to pick some well in advance of harvesting so you don’t end up with excess fruit that will go to waste.
  1. Cut the stem of the tree and prepare the next sucker.Remove the top half of the banana stem once you harvest the fruit. Desucker the base using the same process as you have while caring for your plant.

Remember to leave one sucker to replace the now-dying mother plant.

PLANT CARE 

  • 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.

PESTS/DISEASES

1) Banana weevil (Cosmopolites sordidus): Weevil infestation has been implicated as one of the factors leading to yield decline of cooking bananas, through prevention of crop establishment and shortened plantation life. Damage to the plant is done by the larvae which tunnel in the rhizome and the yield loss increases with the crop cycle. The destructive effect of the weevil almost occurs simultaneously with the decline in soil fertility.

Control Measures: Common practices to control weevils are the removal of harvested corms and pseudo stems as a means of denying the pest major breeding sites

2) Nematodes (radopholus similes): Nematode root rot causes uprooting and lower bunch weight. Surveys have identified that damage is dominantly caused by uprooting than reduced bunch weight.

Control Measures: Soil fertility management action of mulching with organic wastes could compensate for or suppress nematodes damage by stimulating and improving root growth, increasing populations and activities of beneficial soil organisms antagonistic to the nematodes, or producing nematicidal compounds.
Alternatively, before planting of banana suckers, they should be ‘boiled’ in salty water. This is a common practice in Southern Nyanza, in which hot water salt solution is used and the sucker is dipped into the solution for 5 to 10 minutes, killing harmful organisms attached to the roots of the banana suckers.

HEALTH 

  1. Bananas are a caloric dense fruit. Consumption of just one banana anytime through the day makes one feel energetic
    2. Banana is a food most appropriate when small but nutrient dense food has to be given in situations of extreme weight loss or extreme fever where the body becomes weak and there is food aversion.
    3. They are a good source of potassium and magnesium which aid in maintaining normal blood pressure and are heart protective.
    4. The high potassium content promotes bone health too.
    5. Banana help counteract the urinary calcium loss caused due to increase ion potassium levels in the urine.
    6. Bananas have an antacid effect and are said to protect against stomach ulcers. They contain a compound called as protease inhibitor which protects the stomach from unfriendly bacteria which cause stomach or gastrointestinal disturbances.
    7. Bananas are also known to stimulate cell proliferation which thickens the stomach mucosa and is a barrier against stomach acids.
    8. Conditions like diarrhea can easily dehydrate the body and deplete the electrolytes. Consumption of banana helps to restore the lost potassium and helps maintain heart function.
    9. Bananas are rich in the soluble fibre pectin. Thereby it assists healthy digestion and eases out constipation.
    10. They are a rich source of fructooligosaccharides which act as a prebiotic and stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestine.  They protect us from harmful bacteria that cause gastric disturbances.
    11. Fructooligosaccharides also produce digestive enzymes which improve the ability to absorb nutrients.
    12. Bananas contain short chain fatty acids which are essentially needed by the cells lining the intestinal tract to stay healthy. This further improves the nutrient absorption.
    13. They are a good source of carotenoids which are antioxidants and have a protective effect against chronic disease condition. They also have a high content of antioxidant phenolic compounds.
    14. Banana is known to render a soothing effect. It has a compound called as tryptophan which on getting converted to serotonin improves mood.