S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing
Banana Plants in Northeast Florida Gardens
Banana’s may be a tropical plant but their ability to grow quickly during the heat of the summer months makes them able to grow and produce fruit throughout the state of Florida.
The photo on the left is of a banana flower forming fruits in my Mother’s garden off of State Road 13 in the Switzerland area.
Banana plants thrive during the hot and humid summer months, growing from suckers at the base of last years stems to mature heights by August and September. With Blooms and fruit occurring at 10-15 months, all it takes is a warm frost protected area of the landscape or one mild winter season for your banana plant to bear fruit.
Uses for Banana Trees in Northeast Florida Gardens
Not only do banana plants make an excellent addition to your edible landscape, but their large leaves and exotic blooms add big bold texture that can turn even the most mundane landscape into an instant tropical paradise.
There are so many varieties of banana today from the strictly ornamental red leaf selections to bicolor leafed beauties that bear an abundance of fruit. Breeding of banana plants has come a long way, with cold tolerances increasing on some selections up to zone 7b, and many new dwarf selections available that make a perfect house plant!
So whether your like me and love to eat what you grow or your just looking for the perfect potted plant for your living room, pool deck or patio, there is a banana plant selection that is just perfect for you!
Dealing with Frost Damage on Your Banana Trees
Unprotected banana trees may freeze down to the ground when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. All of the banana plant selections here at S & J will grow and thrive in the Northeast Florida area, some will overwinter with little to no visible damage and others may freeze down to the base and regrow quickly when temperatures start to rise at the beginning of summer.
To give your banana plant a head start you may consider wrapping the base of the stems where they form a tree like clump near the ground or using a bale of pine straw to completely cover any newly emerging shoots in December before a hard freeze. That little layer of protection may get you quite a head start on next years banana plants.
If you, like me, prefer to let them be and deal with the cleanup in the spring, simply allow the winter to do what it will. The following spring when all danger of frost has passed, remove any old stalks and fertilize well with a tropical plant food or a general purpose fertilizer. Pick 4 or 5 well spaced newly emerging suckers, trim out the old base from last year and allow the selected shoots to take over by removing the unwanted suckers.
Banana plants grow quickly and will need monthly fertilizer applications during the growing season.
Planting Tips for Banana Plants in Northeast Florida
* Pick the future home of your banana plant in an area that is free of standing water, even a day or two of standing water after one of our Northeast Florida summer rains can ruin your banana plant permanently!
- Dig a large hole even when planting a small banana plant. It may be a bit of a chore at first but your banana patch will reward you generously for your efforts. Dig at least a three feet wide hole that is two feet deep.
- Rough up the outside of the root ball after removing it from the S & J Nursery container before you plant it into the ground
- Plant Banana plants into large holes and amend the soil that you will use to backfill the hole around the plant generously with compost.
- Make sure to leave a 5-6 ft area around your banana plant free of weeds, grass and other plants that may compete for water and nutrients.
- Water generously for the first few weeks and remember banana plants will require at least an inch to an inch and a half of supplemental irrigation each week during the heat of the summer.