The Q&A Archives: Bananas

Question: I live in North Florida and for the first time my banana trees are producing bananas. When do I pick them? How do I store them? Also, how many Banana leaves does a banana tree have to sprout before the tree starts bearing fruit?

Answer: Allow the fruit to reach maturity if frost doesn't arrive first. If temperatures drop into the low 40's before you can harvest ripe, yellow fruit, cut the bunch from the vine and bring it indoors. Hang it in an out of the way spot like a garage or closet and place a plastic bag around it to seal it up. A dry cleaning bag works great for this. Put a ripe apple or two in the bag and leave it for a couple of weeks. The ethylene the apple gives off will cause the banana to initiate ripening. Then just wait and watch until the fruit looks ready to eat.

It is not the number of leaves that causes fruiting as much as the number of frost free months the banana tree (actually an herbaceous shoot) grows. It takes about 18 months before a banana will fruit. There for in the lower south, a mild winter last the last one mean bananas the following year.

Enjoy your banana!

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