The Q&A Archives: Banana Plant

Question: About 4 months ago,I purchased a banana plant. I desparately need hjelp with its care. It is near a window getting 8 hours of sunlight per day. I've been watering it once a week but now it's leaves are turning brown. There is a "baby" coming up near the main stalk. Am I over or under watering it? Should I repot the baby? What type of fertilizer does it need? How often? Can I take it outside for the summer (northern California), providing I haven't killed it already. Please help!

Answer: Banana trees are actually herbaceous shrubs, with a large stem that resembles a trunk, and large, frond-like foliage. True bananas grow from the species 'Ensete', but most commonly grown Banana trees are 'Musa', which do not produce edible fruit. Culture for both Ensete and Musa are the same; give full sun and lots of water. The tops of either plant may die down, especially in cold weather, but new growth will begin in the spring. Both are very fast growing and need frequent, deep watering during the growing season (spring - summer). Because the leaves are sensitive to cold weather, it might be that your plant is showing stress from winter weather, or from wind, which tends to dry the foliage out. Cut brown leaves off and destroy them. Then keep the plant well watered and wait for new growth in the spring.

Instead of repotting the offset, you can encourage it to grow and eventually become the new stem. Once it's a little taller, cut back the original stem of the plant and allow the new stem to take over.

You can take your plant outdoors during the spring and summer months, then take it back indoors during the coldest winter weather.

Fertilize during the growing season with a diluted liquid fertilizer, every 3-4 weeks.

I'm sure your plant will be just fine!

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