A banana tree in the garden
Bananas, the long sweet fruits that we are used to consuming throughout the year, grow on very particular plants: they quickly reach 2-3 meters in height, presenting themselves as trees, but in fact they are huge perennial grasses. From a full-bodied corm, a bulb-tuber, which often develops only semi-submerged from the earth, sprout long leaves with petiole, of enormous dimensions, gathered in tufts; in practice the petioles of the leaves, grouped together, give rise to a stem, which can be confused with the trunk of a tree, to whose top the enormous fronds are waved.
The leaves of banana they can be up to 4-5 meters long, and broad in the maximum portion up to 50-60 cm; they are bright light green, slightly leathery. The new leaves sprout from the center of the package formed by the old ones, then outside the head we will have only adult leaves, and in the center only young leaves. THE banana trees they produce very large inflorescences, consisting of a false flower similar to an enormous onion, consisting of appressate bracts, of a lively color, often red, at the base of which sprout flowers, both female and male.
The flowers of banana they are not particularly flashy, and the feminine ones have the inferior ovary, or petals and sepals develop above the ovary, and therefore when they wither remain on the upper apex of the long berry. Plants grown in Italy hardly produce edible fruits, especially if grown at home or in greenhouses, but there are dozens of varieties of banana in the world.
Some fruit varieties can produce sweet and fragrant fruits even in the hottest areas of Italy, others, purely decorative, produce fruits full of seeds, not edible, but of a bizarre color; other varieties are still grown only for their particular colored foliage, or for the very small dimensions, which make them excellent plants to be cultivated in pots.
Growing a banana tree
Before understanding how to grow a banana tree, it is good to remember that there are dozens of varieties of banana, which may present different climatic requirements, even if generally all of them banana trees have similar cultivation needs; therefore we remember that some species and varieties are purely houseplants, of dimensions that do not exceed two meters if cultivated in pots, other varieties live outdoors in the summer and then in greenhouses throughout the winter; very few varieties can withstand short frosts, and should still be placed in a sheltered area of the garden, unless our house is in an area of Italy where the winter climate is particularly forgiving, as happens in some areas of Puglia, Calabria or of Sicily.
Let us not forget that banana trees are perennial herbaceous plants, with fast and vigorous growth, as these can be grown leaving the aerial part lost during the winter, to reappear in spring; it often happens to see banana trees in decidedly non-tropical areas, such as the shores of Lake Garda.
Bananas are ruined, even a lot, by the cold winter wind, or from the intense frosts, from the snow, from the frost, this does not necessarily mean that the corms die in autumn, indeed, often large banana trees grow for years, with only a few leaves darkened by the cold or ruined by the wind, even in areas with climate inclement winter.
It also happens in Italy that some years follow each other with decidedly inflexible winters, and therefore it is not necessary for our garden in the Po valley to feel excluded from the possibility of cultivating an exotic and particular plant, which reminds us of the jungle.
THE BANANO IN BRIEF
Name, genus, species
Musaceae, gen. Muse
|Type of plant||Perennial herbaceous|
|Height||From 60 cm to more than 5 meters|
|Foliage||Persistent or semi-persistent|
|Foliage color||Green, purple, dark brown|
|Flowers||White, yellow or pink|
|fruits||Yellow or pink; rarely edible|
|Maintenance||From medium to high|
|irrigations||Frequent, no water stagnation|
|humidity||Alta; low in winter|
|Substrate||25% garden soil, 25% universal soil, 25% compost or mature manure, 25% coarse sand|
|fertilizing||Granular or liquid for green plants|
|Growth||From medium to fast|
|Resistance to cold||Hardly rustic to medium rustic (depending on the species)|
|Exposure||Full sun or light shade|
|Container||At least 30 cm x 30|
|Propagation||Picking suckers, cutting, sowing (difficult)|
|Pests and diseases||Cochineal, red spider mite, virosis, root rot|
Planting a banana tree
The best time to proceed is from April to June, depending on our geographical location.
The banana appreciates the deep and rich soils, but they must be well-drained at the same time.
To obtain the best results it is good to dig a large hole and place a draining layer of gravel or expanded clay on the bottom. We then spread a cloth of non-woven fabric to isolate that part from the upper substrate. We insert the plant and fill it with the following mixture: 25% of garden soil, 25% of universal soil, 25% compost or mature manure, 25% of coarse sand. We compact and irrigate abundantly.
THE BANANO CALENDAR
|repotting||March-April (every 2 or 3 years)|
|Fruiting||November (specimens at least 3 years old)|
|Protection / withdrawal||From October to March-April|
|Granular fertilizer (full ground)||March and June|
|Liquid fertilizer (pot)||From March to October, every 15 days|