Starting Banana Seeds - Knowledgebase Question

Arlington Heights, IL
Question by ebarnas
January 23, 1999
I am looking for any information regarding tips on starting banana plants from seed. I have been able to grow them in my garden - up to nine feet during the growing season, but I have not been successful in getting new seeds to germinate. I generally start in February, but can only get one of ten seeds to germinate, in time for spring planting in the garden.

Answer from NGA
January 23, 1999


Your banana tree can be either 'Musa' or 'Ensete', neither of which generally produces viable seeds. If you're getting seeds to germinate, your plant is more of a tropical palm than a true banana. Seeds are absent in edible fruit, but present in inedible fruit. Musa paradisiaca produces a drooping flower stalk with powdery purple bracts and seedy, inedible fruit. This plant can be started by seed, but Musa and Ensete are generally propagated by cuttings that are rooted in moist potting soil in the spring. Since you've had some success in germinating the seeds, let's try to enhance the conditions to get even better results. Seeds must be fertile, and completely mature for any chance of germination. Choose seeds from fruit that is completely ripe. Remove the pulp and allow the seeds to dry at room temperature. Then soak for at least 2 hours in warm water before sowing. Sow just on the surface of moistened seed starting mix and press in with your hand. Cover the trays or pots with plastic wrap to help hold in moisture, and cover the tops of the pots with cardboard to exclude light. Then put the pots in a warm area, such as on top of the refrigerator. Keep the temperature at 75F and viable seeds will sprout in 60-180 days. Check the trays every week or so, add moisture if necessary, and remove any seedlings that appear, transplanting them to individual pots and providing bright light. Hope the above helps increase your stock of banana trees.

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