A banana tree with flowers is a special highlight for owners of tropical perennials. Certain points you need to pay attention during flowering and bearing banana fruit.
- Banana trees bloom after two to five years at the earliest, depending on the temperature and light conditions
- Care should not be changed during the flowering period
- Flowers can bloom for 80 to 180 days, depending on location, warmth and amount of available light
- Fruit formation can be aided by removing a portion of the flower
- A successful harvest is not guaranteed despite good care in Central Europe
Congratulations. You have managed to get a banana plant to bloom. As soon as on your specimen (Musa) one or more banana flowers in colors ranging from beige to purple are visible, you need to pay attention to one important point: Do not change the care measures. Bananas form flowers only when they feel comfortable in the current location. That is, up to this moment you have done everything right, which shows you the banana tree about its flowering. Nevertheless, there are some aspects that you now need to pay even more attention to, because the plant has to spend more energy:
- do not allow to dry out
- Do not forget to fertilize
- optionally: administer potassium
Otherwise, banana trees are quite frugal during the flowering period and should not be pulled out of their routine per se. Since a banana tree takes between two and five years to flower in our local latitudes, a sudden change in circumstances would disrupt the growth rhythm. So sit back and with a little more luck you can enjoy a fruit.
While flowering is enchanting for a long period of time, things can be completely different with banana fruits. In fact, the biggest problem with perennials is the uncertainty of whether the banana tree will form a fruit after flowering. After flowering, the banana perennial must bloom for a period of up to 180 days before fruiting can occur. In well-maintained specimens, 80 to 100 days is sufficient. Fruiting can be recognized by small bananas, which have a dark color at the beginning. However, they do not guarantee that the harvest will be successful. To know if you can harvest the bananas in the end, you need to keep an eye on the following signs:
- Fruit size: 10 to 15 cm
- light greenish color
- plant is weakening a lot
- plant loses leaves
Far too often, the fruit rots right on the plant or it fails to ripen. For this reason, you should carefully check whether the fruit is getting worse. In most cases, the care measures were changed during ripening or the amount of light was reduced.
Note: If you are lucky and have enough light available, bananas in the winter garden may even ripen over the winter. If this is the case, do not change the current care measures so that the banana plant can have its rest.
Cut off the flowers?
There is a method how you can stimulate fruiting of a banana plant. With this one, it mainly comes down to cutting the remaining flower as soon as you see the first signs of a fruit. Since this part of the banana is very robust, you need the right tools. Suitable are:
- pruning saw
- electric branch saw
Don’t worry. If you proceed carefully, you won’t damage the perennial or the young fruit before you can harvest it. The following instructions go over how to cut the bloom:
- Put on protective gloves
- Tree sap from the banana sticks to your hands
- Place saw 1 to 2 cm above blossom
- Remove blossom
Do not cut too far into the stem to avoid damaging the young banana fruit. This method is completely optional and should be considered if a larger number of bananas are desired. You can use the same tools to harvest bananas, as they also grow on a sturdy stem.
Note: When cutting the blossoms, be sure to watch for the clear planting seed that emerges. If this gets on clothing or other textiles, the resulting stains can turn a deep reddish brown.
Mother plant dies
A typical phenomenon is the death of the mother plant after the banana tree has formed flowers or banana fruits. However, this does not represent the end of the actual plant. Before a banana tree can bloom at all, it usually forms children over the years. With these, the plant continues to reproduce on its own. If you do see any kindles, you should transplant them into their own pots just before the mother plant dies so that they can thrive. If it dies, you can simply discard the faded banana plant.
Frequently asked questions
Which species produce edible fruit?
If you choose an edible banana species, you have a small selection to choose from. Specifically as an indoor plant, consider the dwarf edible banana ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ (Musa acuminata ‘Dwarf Cavendish’). Also of note are the pink dwarf banana (Musa velutina), hardy Musa nagensium or Darjeeling banana (Musa sikkimensis). Before purchasing, be sure to check whether the banana perennials might become too large for your living space.
Can the flowers be used?
If there is no hope of maturing fruit, go ahead and harvest the banana flowers. These are cut off one to two inches above the flower base and can then be used in cooking. The Asian specialty must be freed from the petals similar to an artichoke, because only the core is edible. They are further processed in a savory way, for example in stir-fry dishes, salads or as a vegan fish alternative.
How long do harvested banana fruits have to ripen?
After you have had a successful harvest, you should allow the bananas, which are ideally still green, to ripen. In this way, the aroma improves. The duration of post-ripening depends on the temperature and available light. A dark, warm room with temperatures between 15°C and 20°C is ideal. Put another apple or pear with the bananas. The ethylene will help the ripening process until they are yellow.