June 5th, 2007
Banana Plantation: Update 2007

photo: banana plantation before
2007-06-02. A year later. The banana plantation is a success!

Dateline: June 2, 2006
Like so much of my garden, the banana plantation evolved out of unrelated events rather than by forethought or design. Last fall I got the stonework on the front of the house repaired. That so improved the look of the house that the yard looked grungy by comparison. So I cleared the flagstone path of St. Augustine grass which encouraged AJM to move the stones to the backyard and motivated me to buy stones for a new path. After Christmas I carted home loads of ground up Christmas trees and and heaped it over the remaining St. Augustine grass and monkey grass.

photo: banana plantation before
2005-10-26. Before.

On another front I attempted to divide my Musa lasiocarpa because the mother plant had died. Most of the pups snapped off at the root an I thought they were dead. I replanted the largest one in the same place, potted another, and put three more without roots into pots. I put a couple into water in a vase inside the house and threw the rest into the spare shower where they could keep warm over winter. To my amazement they all survived.

As far as I can tell Musa lasiocarpa is like some large fleshy above-the-ground bulb. The roots anchor it in the soil, but it sure doesn’t need them to live…at least it can get by over the winter.

Now that it’s warm, all the banana plants were putting out new growth. Where to put them? Ah. Here’s a bare spot. Voila! Banana plantation.

photo: banana plantation after
2006-06-01. After.

Still to do: build a short fence to separate the banana plantation from the driveway. I love the little wattle fencing that they make in England. I don’t have a willow tree, though. So I will have to come up with something similar using native materials.

Update: June 2, 2007
It’s taken almost six months since the first winter freezes for the bananas to start leafing out again. Despite all the water of this very wet spring, it’s temperatures in the 90s that seem to get them going.

photo: banana plantation before
2006-11-27. Just before the first freeze. Notice how this spot goes from full shade to full sun after the leaves fall.

photo: banana plantation before
2006-11-29. I wrap yellowing leaves around the stalks for extra insulation and then mound up cedar elm leaves to cover the banana stalks.

I will have to think what I can plant in the interim period from November to May. Overwintering annuals like snapdragons or violas might be nice as they’re finishing up right about now when the bananas leaf out. However, I do like the simplicity of having just the bananas. Still in winter and spring, until the trees leaf out, this is a very nice sunny area in a prominent place. I should do something more with it. Hmmm…what a wishy-washy gardener I am!

PS. Austin garden bloggers…for those who want them there’s definitely passalongs in your future.

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Banana Plantation: Update 2007”

  1. From M2 (Austin):

    Ooo! Promising!

    Any chance for bananas?

    No. Musa lasiocarpa doesn’t produce bananas. Some other kinds of banana plants do, but only if they have two years without a freeze–rare in Austin. We might get only one freeze a year, but it’s enough to kill most banana fruit. Do you want one? I have one plant left. — mss

  2. From Jeff Morgan (England):

    Read your Musa lasiocarpa article with interest as I have one which I purchased about 3 years ago. (Yet to flower). Must admit I have been lucky over the winter periods as I did not protect it; just left it to its own devices. It took some time to recover this spring but now the leaves are growing strong and the pups are beginning to grow. Will endeavour to protect it this winter.

    Encouraged to read about your luck with the puppies but does that mean that you have to wait until the plant flowers and begins to die before removing and planting the pups?

    Would appreciate your response on this as each year the pups come and die in the winter.

    Jeff, you asked if you had to wait until the mother plant died to remove the pups. In my experience, no. I did that because at the time I didn’t know how to uproot the pups without hurting the mother. As it turns out, the plants can survive for quite a long time without roots in a dormant state, if not allowed to freeze. Think of them a being above ground bulbs.

    As long as the pups are big enough to have several future leaves encased in the heart, those leaves will grow in warm weather. Cut the pups off as close as you can to the mother plant. The outside leaves will probably die. I peeled off any the dead casings until I got to the firm, green growth. I think you could remove any pups that are large enough to have a firm trunk. — mss

  3. From abd rahim bin mt isa:

    pls provided me hou to plant banana & location suitable to plant

    distant from 1 plant to another



    I just stick the stalk in the ground and mound dirt up around it so it doesn’t fall over. Depending on the size of the stalk that’s probably about 5 inches (10 cm) deep. Very quickly roots will sprout to hold the stalk upright on its own. The leaf spread is about 4 feet (a little over a meter) so I planted them about 3 to 4 feet apart (about a meter apart). — mss

  4. From Janet (England):

    Don’t you just love how a special section of the garden happens completely by accident sometimes. I LOVE the banana plantation.


  5. From Ki (New Jersey):

    I wonder if you can grow eating bananas? They would add a nice tropical look to your garden, like the M. lasiocarpa and have a great, tall architectural look too.

    The M. lasiocarpa has a beautiful bloom. Wow. I’m glad you were successful in growing the pups.

    Some people do grow edible bananas in Austin. However, we have to have a winter without a freeze which we do infrequently. I don’t like the look of most bananas because their fronds droop and are easily shredded. M. lasiocarpa doesn’t have either problem. Plus tropicals seem out of place in our drought years–although you never know in Austin whether we’re going to have a desert year or a jungle year. — mss

  6. From Bek:

    I just found your blog by trying to find out how to protect banana plants. I bought mine this summer and we are supposed to get our first big freeze this week. Are you wrapping all leaves around the plant or just the yellow ones?

    The freeze was imminent so I bent down all the leaves down and wrapped them around the trunk to provide an extra layer of insulation. You can then wrap the trunks in burlap or whatever you use in your climate. Austin is fairly mild and we don’t have many hard freezes and when we have them they don’t last very long. The important thing is to keep the trunk of the banana from freezing. — mss

  7. From Anna, Montana:

    This info on banana plants is very interesting to me as my husband and I have considered growing an eating banana plant in Montana. So, obviously we have freezing weather every year and have considered an indoor greenhouse in order to grow a tropical plant like this. I came to this site because I was looking for info on garden design and had read some interesting stuff on garden design software at http://www.myeasygardening.com/landscape/. You seem to use an organic process to garden design based on other things occurring in the garden. Do you think software would be helpful for planning an indoor garden?

    I think software could help especially if it provided a 3D view from different angles. It just depends on what you like to fiddle with. I’m a very tactile person so I like to walk around the actual site. I find it difficult to get a sense of how things will look from two-dimensional sketches. Software modeling can provide a virtual 3D perspective that is a big improvement on pencil sketches. I think would be fun to play around with. If you try it, will you write back and share your experience? — mss

  8. From Vijayakumar:

    Is there a banana plantation in Texas?

    Back home in India, we take the inner stem of the mother tree and make juice of it. This juice is taken to remove the Kidney Stones. I am trying to locate one near dallas, texas for my friend. Any suggestions would be helpful.