Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Banana Trees

I am amazed that the banana trees we planted about 30 years ago are still standing and producing.  We planted them in a protected area in the woods among other trees and on the north border of our Back Forty. In this area, the banana trees are protected from the winds and the weather.  The wind will blow right through the leaves and tear them into strips but they will remain green.

The leaves will reach a length of about 9 feet and about 2 feet wide.  The banana trees are susceptible to cold weather and frost, not to mention a freeze.  We know that we've had frost when the leaves turn brown and brittle; however, the rhizomes will survive and put out new shoots.

The banana trees require a lot of fertilizer; we didn't know.  They have received food from mulching that have occurred naturally and thus obtained their nutrients.  Occasionally we add more mulch.  Mostly, they have been left to fend for themselves and they have done fairly well.

They say that the banana trees need little water.  We've been putting the outfall of the water from our heating/cooling system into the area where the bananas grow.  Was that a wrong thing to do! At the most, they need a good soak a couple of times a year.  I'm going to leave the banana trees alone and let Mother Nature take care of them.  She knows best.

The long showy purple flower is the male part and it is called the "tail."  When you actually see the bananas, the tail may be chopped off:  it is no longer needed.  We have left it because it is rather unusual and quite handsome.

After the harvest, the stalk is supposed to be cut down to the ground to grow new suckers.  The stalk will eventually topple over and fall if left alone.  The banana trees have few pest problems but it is recommended that you choose a plant bred for your climate.  The Musa hybrid, another name for our banana tree, does provide ornamental appeal and the fruit is an added delight.  The fruit is stubby but oh! so sweet.

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