Banana-rama: Grow Banana Plants

With care and shelter, this exotic ornamental will produce beautiful foliage for many years.

Colorful Banana Tree Underplanted with Lime Green

Colorful Banana Tree Underplanted with Lime Green

A colorful banana tree is underplanted with lime green lpomea and Celosia plumosa for an attractive summer patio display.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

A colorful banana tree is underplanted with lime green lpomea and Celosia plumosa for an attractive summer patio display.

Create your own leafy jungle with pots of bananas. The plants boast huge leaves that unfurl majestically from spring until fall, and they are ideal for large containers. If you place them in a sunny, sheltered location, and feed and water them regularly, bananas will put on an exotic display for many years. Plants will also need protection from frost in the winter.

Although these ornamental bananas won’t produce edible fruit if you grow them outside in your garden, the foliage more than makes up for it. Huge paddle-shaped leaves unfurl during the growing season from the top of a stout trunk to form a leafy, palmlike canopy. Natives of China, Japan and other parts of Asia, bananas fall into three groups: Musa, Ensete and Musella. Most have plain, jade-green foliage, but the leaves of some are attractively blushed or striped red, or variegated. To prevent them from blowing over in strong winds, bananas are best grown in large, heavy containers filled with soil-based compost.

Place pots in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot — the leaves of bananas shred easily if they are in a wind tunnel. Water plants regularly, but guard against waterlogged compost.

Feeding Plants 

Bananas are greedy plants and will grow taller and produce more leaves when given copious applications of fertilizer. Get the plant off to a flying start in the spring by applying a general fertilizer, and then add a liquid feed every time it is watered. Supplement this every month during the growing season by sprinkling blood, fish and bone over the compost surface and water it in well. 

Growing Tip 

If you have the space, bring bananas into a heated greenhouse, cool room indoors or sunroom. If you have no space indoors, the hardier types can remain outside if you cover the compost with a layer of bark mulch and wrap the pot with bubble plastic or fabric. Cut off all the leaves, then stack lengths of duct tubing around the stem, filling the gap with straw. Cover the top with plastic or a tile to keep rain out.

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