We must be going bananas…this is our third Plain Gardening episode on bananas! We talked about growing and pruning, and now it’s time for the fruit. Gardening expert Bill Finch says now is a time to be patient.
Older banana plants may fruit early. Once the bananas emerge, it can take up to 90 days for them to mature and fatten up. In the meantime, a large reddish flower will develop at the bottom of the stalk. Bill says some people like them—the flower is large and unusual—but if you don’t care about the aesthetics, you can cut it off and allow more of the plant’s energy to go toward making bananas.
Taking off the large flower also means removing a large weight that could cause the tree some problems in windy tropical weather. If you cut any part of a banana tree, it’s drippy. And the fast-flowing sap is hard to get out of clothing…so wear old garden clothes for this job.
The little banana-looking structures just above the flower are an old mechanism that the banana plant used to use to pollinate itself. Don’t worry if that part doesn’t develop any further.
Once you’ve harvested the fruit, cut the banana stalk down to the ground. New ones are probably sprouting up around the old stalk, and they’ll be next year’s banana producers.
If you’ve ever wondered why no one grows bananas from seeds, it’s because we humans have cultivated bananas for so long, we’ve eliminated their ability to cross-pollinate. They no longer make seeds!
Learn more about bananas…in fact, go bananas and call Bill’s radio show Sunday mornings from 9-11 on 106.5FM or email firstname.lastname@example.org.