Bananas have many different growth stages from planting to fruiting and harvesting.
The production of bananas is a long process and banana plants grow in three different stages which are the vegetative stage, flowering stage and the fruiting stage.
In this article I’ll explain the many different stages of banana plant growth along with some tips to help you to grow an abundant crop of bananas in your backyard garden.
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Banana plants are best suited to tropical or subtropical climates and they need a sunny spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day with protection from the wind.
The ideal temperature range for growing bananas is between 65 F (18 C) and 80 F (26 C) for most of the year.
The growth cycle of the banana plant has three main stages: vegetative growth of the plant (6 months), flowering (3 months) and fruiting (3 months), which means the timeframe from planting to harvesting is at least 12 months or longer if the weather is cool.
Cavendish and lady finger are the two main types of bananas that can be grown in backyard gardens.
Cavendish are the most common type of bananas found in grocery stores.
Lady finger bananas are smaller and sweeter than cavendish bananas and they don’t turn brown as quickly when they’re cut.
Banana plants are grown from plantlets that are taken from the mother plant.
Before planting, dig some compost or aged manure into the soil.
The plantlets are then planted in 4 inch (10 cm) holes and spaced out at least 2 metres apart.
After planting, the soil around the plants needs to be kept moist until they begin growing new roots, which can take up to 10 weeks.
Banana plants aren’t trees, they’re perennial herbs that grow from a large underground rhizome.
Instead of a trunk, banana plants form pseudostems, which are tightly packed overlapping leaf sheaths that support the plant.
The leaves of banana plants are large and can grow up to 2 metres long.
The oldest leaves are found at the base of the plant and they become smaller as you move up the pseudostem.
New growth is tightly packed with overlapping leaf sheaths which gives it a cigar-like appearance.
During this stage of growth you’ll need to check the plants regularly for signs of bacterial leaf spot and mosaic virus.
Banana plants can also be affected by root nematodes, and borers.
You’ll also need to give the plants plenty of water during this stage, especially if there isn’t much rainfall.
Banana plants begin to flower when the plant is about 9 to 10 months old but it can take up to 18 months for the plants to bloom if the weather is cool.
The flowers are covered by a large purple or green bract that it sheds as it matures.
The first flowers to appear are female and the fruit will begin growing without the need for pollination.
After the female flowers have bloomed the male flowers will begin forming.
After banana plants have bloomed they will begin to produce fruit.
It usually takes about three months for the fruit to fully develop.
Banana plants can produce 200 or more bananas each, depending on the size of the plant.
The fruit grows in large bunches with multiple rows of bananas called hands.
Each hand can contain up to 20 bananas.
Banana plants take about three months to produce fruit after blooming.
Bananas will attract birds, flying foxes, possums and other pests so it’s a good idea to place an open ended bag over each bunch of bananas to protect them.
Cut the bunches off the plant while they’re still green and leave them to ripen indoors.
Bananas are likely to split if you leave them on the tree until they’re fully ripe.
Green bananas usually take about a week to ripen, depending how warm the weather is.
Ripe bananas that have been stored at room temperature will last about a week and it’s best to eat them when the skin is yellow with a few brown spots.
Plant care after fruiting
After harvesting the bananas, the mother plant is cut down and you’ll have other suckers coming up to take its place.
Leave a couple of the suckers there to grow and replant the rest somewhere else in the garden or give them away.
So there are the different stages of banana growth that you’ll see in your garden.
Watching the growth cycle of bananas is interesting and it’s satisfying to grow your own bananas.
It’s also a great educational experience for kids to see where their fruit comes from.
There are many different varieties of bananas that can be grown in your backyard garden, so pick a few varieties to plant and enjoy your own fresh organically grown bananas.
Have you tried growing bananas at home? Let me know in the comments below.