Well as summer comes to an end, my tropical fruits and flowers articles will conclude with one of the yummiest fruits that is eaten around the globe – the banana.
There are mainly two divisions of bananas, the sweet eating types and the plantain which is cooked in many fashions.
The cultivars that have been developed around the temperate growing regions range into the hundreds. The cultivars are mainly grown from pups or set shoots off of the mother stalks with divisions of the rhizomes.
Bananas are doable here in the southland in warm/sheltered southwest facing spots in the garden and can range from six to 10 plus feet in height. The banana has a stately appearance and evokes thoughts of some tropical land, but can thrive and bear fruit here in our environment very well.
When mature, the banana’s main stalk will throw a cascading long flower spike and slowly the protective envelopes shielding the flowers will fall off exposing the petite banana flowers. When pollinated these flowers will eventually start the growth of the small banana fruits and by the end of summer into fall should develop into edible fruits for harvest. The fruit usually ripens 70-100 days after the individual flowers open, if pollinated.
The perennial rhizome likes rich, well drained soils and enjoys organic feedings. I supplement my bananas with fish emulsion and chicken manure. When they are actively growing in the warm summer months, give them adequate watering and mulch them heavily for good fruit production.
Some fruiting cultivars that grow well in the area are: dwarf Cavendish, dwarf Brazilian, gold finger, ice cream, apple and Williams.
There are also the African non-fruiting types of ensete ventricosum Maurelii which grows to 15 feet plus with exotic dark maroon-red foliage and is very large so give it space. This banana type will flower out the center of the terminal leaves, and then it dies and sometimes many side shoots grow from the base of the plant which can be divided and replanted.
So, I hope I have whet your appetite to encourage growing some fresh edible bananas for nothing is as tasty as picking yellow tree ripened bananas right from your own garden. Some folks in colder areas even have grown them inside their home with good light as a potted specimen.
If you grow the bananas, I’ll bring the ice cream for a banana split.
Try L&M Fertilizer or Fallbrook Garden Center here in Fallbrook for availability
Roger Boddaert, Maker of Natural Gardens, can be reached for horticultural consultation and creative landscape design at (760) 728-4297.