Bananas are a delicious fruit, but can only be grown in specific tropical climates that offer enough heat and rain to allow the stem to grow. People often wonder whether or not it’s possible to grow a banana using only a store-bought fruit that is planted in the ground. After all, the banana should have seeds inside, right?
Another question people often ask is whether a banana plant can be grown indoors, where the climate is easier to control. There are multiple types of banana, ranging from small plantains to the dessert bananas most Western audiences see in the supermarket on a regular basis. This guide seeks to answer this and other questions by providing a comprehensive guide on how to grow a banana “tree” using easy to find items.
What You Will Need
The truth is that there are numerous misconceptions about the bananas bought from stores. Most of them have been genetically altered to not have seeds, which prevents the average customer from using one to grow their own plant. If you are interested in growing your own banana plant, you need to find something called the sucker, or seeds purchased from a third-party retailer like Amazon. Despite the sometimes high cost of bananas, the seeds are typically inexpensive and easy to find.
So, you will need:
- A banana sucker or seed
- Soil that is 40% organic matter
- Plenty of water
- A sunny spot in the yard
Whether or not you locate a sucker or seed, the instructions for growing your own banana plant will remain the same. It is also important to note that bananas are actually herbs, so they don’t grow on trees. Instead, they have long, thick stems that resemble tree trunks. Keep this in mind when planting, and follow the rest of these instructions.
Soak the Seeds in Warm Water
One of the most important steps for growing bananas from seeds is preparing the seed before it goes into the ground. To help the seed sprout, soak them in warm water for 24 to 48 hours. Sometimes you will see the hard outer shell of the seed loosen, and some tendrils might poke through. This is normal.
Banana seeds vary in size but don’t be worried if you can only find small ones. Also avoid planting multiple seeds in one location, as this can result in overcrowding, and the herb might not grow at all.
Prepare a Warm Outdoor Area
While the seeds are sprouting in the water, create the ideal outdoor area for the banana plant. This should be a bed in a super sunny area, or a pot or planter that can be moved indoors and outdoors but always kept warm. Use potting soil mixed with 40% organic compost to create the ideal solution for banana growth.
If you choose to plant outdoors, be prepared to transplant the bananas if you live in a cool climate. This is not a hardy herb, and it will not survive the cold winter months common in temperate and colder climates. During the transplant, keep the soil damp and remember to give the bananas time to acclimate to the indoor environment.
Plant the Seeds
After soaking the seeds, bring them to the potting area and bury them ¼ in. deep in the soil. Then, cover the soil with more compost. The ground needs to then be watered so that the soil is damp, but not soaked. Bananas prefer acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5, so consider using a test to determine the soil’s pH and invest in a good quality fertilizer to adjust levels accordingly.
Maintain the Right Conditions for Growth
Once the banana seeds are in the ground, keep the soil damp for at least two weeks. This facilitates the growth of the plant and helps ensure it will remain strong and healthy. Since bananas need an inordinate amount of potassium to grow healthy roots, consider making your own organic compost by combining household waste matter like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and even bits of decomposable paper. This should be spread evenly across the surface of the banana plant’s space in the garden or pot in the house.
Bananas take a long time to grow. Sometimes they will start to sprout through the soil in as little as two weeks or as long as two months. Try to keep the soil damp throughout this time and keep the temperature consistent around and over 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you keep the plant indoors, consider using a heated propagator.
Additional Tips and Tricks
The banana plant can often test an individual’s patience because it takes a while for the fruit to blossom, especially for someone who lives in a colder climate. While there are several varieties of banana meant to be grown in cooler, hardy climates, these are typically not eaten and are meant to be ornamental. For a regular tropical variety, the following tips and tricks can help the plant remain healthy and strong.
- Plant the banana early in the year to get enough time to grow
- Soak the seeds in damp paper towels
- Plant in pots to keep the herbs indoors during winter
- Use your own compost to raise soil potassium levels
- Don’t use meat, fish, or eggs in the compost
- Plant multiple seeds in different locations to increase your chances of success
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and are now able to grow healthy bananas that you can enjoy without fears of human exploitation, ridiculous shipping prices, and the ever-present fruit flies at the supermarket. As someone who loves bananas, it’s great to be able to grow my own varieties and actually see what a banana is supposed to look and taste like when not genetically engineered to be a ‘dessert banana.’ Feel free to leave any suggestions or comments below, and share the article if you like it.
Now go bananas!
How do you get seeds from a banana?
Most banana varieties sold in the United States contain no seeds at all. Some varieties that contain seeds are commonly found in Asia or Africa.
You can harvest these seeds for planting by:
- Use a sharp knife to make a shallow incision into the banana peel. Try not to cut into the flesh, simply break the peel for an easy opening.
- Once opened, spread it in readiness to remove all the flesh and seeds contained inside. Wear plastic gloves to keep the sticky fruit sugars away from your hands.
- Squeeze the banana flesh with one hand and pluck out the exposed seeds with the other. Banana seeds will be oblong and hard. Their appearance is dark brown or black and they vary in size and shape.
- Finally, rinse the harvested sees in warm running water to remove any remaining banana flesh. Place them in a small bowl lined with a paper towel to air dry them.
What are the black seeds in a banana?
The black seeds in the middle of the banana are seeds. The bananas we eat have seeds that are immature and won’t develop even if they are planted. The wild bananas contain hard seeds that can be grown.
Why are there no seeds in bananas?
Most of the fruits we eat have seeds of some sort. But bananas are special, they have no seeds. It is believed that bananas do not have any seeds because we don’t need them.
Bananas are propagated vegetatively so they are all sterile clones. All of the bananas in the grocery store are a single breed called cavendish. The quality is consistent as they are all genetically identical which makes them prone to disease and parasites.
Can banana trees grow in pots?
Yes, it is possible to grow a banana tree in a pot.
There are banana varieties that can withstand temperature drops and do well in containers. They are popular among the fans of exotic tropical plants in the garden. Dwarf varieties of banana trees can grow anywhere between 2-4 meters high. The ordinary banana trees can reach up to 15 meters high.
How long does it take to grow a banana tree?
A banana tree takes a good amount of time to grow from the time you plant to the time you harvest it.
It takes about 6 months to see the first flower emerge. Leave the leaves around the flower to protect it from sunburn.
The purple flower petals continue to grow and curls drop off to reveal a hand of bananas under each.
You may get about 4-12 or more full hands under each flower. There will be a petal that has tiny banana-like fruits which are male fingers. The male fingers just drop off and die leaving the stalk only.
The bananas take about 2 months to grow to maturity. It is best to support your banana tree to protect it from snapping off.
Bananas are ready to be picked when they are well rounded with ribs with the little flowers at the end are dry and fall off easily. You can pick them green or allow them to ripen.