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If it freezes every year you won't get bananas because it takes about 18 months for them to flower. Unless you live in a low spot or next to a mountain your bananas will make it through the winter some years. Nevertheless, you will be happiest if you plant them for the way they look rather than for just the fruit. If the fruit is exposed to a lot of hot sun it is likely to turn black and spoil before it gets fully ripe. So it is best to plant somewhere that this situation can be avoided or to try to create artificial shade over the bunch when it is on its way to ripening. As for the flavor of the fruit grown here, one can expect to get bananas as tasty or more tasty than those purchased in the super market.
Note: A photo history of growing a Rajapuri Banana can be found in the gardening forum.
The bananas on the left are on the Enano Gigante pictured above. The plant bloomed in late June and it only took two weeks for the bananas to reach the size in the picture, approximately 4 inches. The male banana flower can be seen at the bottom of the stalk, while the female flowers become the bananas. The flower nectar smells like a banana peel. Bananas are self fruitful, so there is no need for cross pollination.
Interestingly, bananas are not really trees. They are herbs, meaning that the stalk
is really not an individual plant but a stem of a larger organism. The core of the
banana is its root system, which is called a corm. Once a stalk has produced
fruit it dies and should be cut off. As can be seen, little bananas are always popping up.
Heat Tolerance and Sun Exposure
Fertilizing and Growth Rate
The enano gigante pictured above is fed one gallon of liquid miracle grow flowering plant food (mixed with water as per. recommended on the instructions), once every one to two months, during the warm time of the year. The plant's basin is flooded and then the fertilizer is poured into the water. A half inch layer of compost is maintained in the basin to help control weeds and to amend the top soil.
A Sample Banana Plant History In Phoenix
|3/2002||Planted from container, height = 2ft|
|5/2002||Second stalk appears, height = 2.5ft|
|7/2002||height = 4ft|
|5/2003||Photo taken of entire plant, height = 5ft|
|6/30/2003||Photo taken of fruit, bananas developing, stalk very bent with weight, lower stalk reinforced with stake, lightly fertilized to help plump up bananas|
|7/07/2003||Record high temperatures (over 110 degrees F.), banana stalk crimps above stake, bananas soon blacken and spoil|
|Theory||Possibly, the banana needed more water in hot weather, because water helps to keep the stalk rigid. Next time I will splint the entire stalk as soon as a flower appears to keep the stalk from leaning so dramatically. I will also put a white paper cone over the fruit, to keep the sun off, as soon as they appear. A larger grove of bananas would also help to give more shade to any bananas fruiting on the inside. It also might help if the plant doesn't flower in the absolute hottest time of the year. The middle of August would probably be a more ideal time.|
|7/10/2003||Broken banana stalk cut.|
|10/15/2003||Second banana flower emerges on a new stem. Banana stalk is relatively straight but is splinted with a large wooden stake to be safe. Stake is not driven into the ground but runs most of the length of the stem below the flower.|
|12/6/2003||Flower is cut when 50-60 bananas have emerged above it to prevent stalk from falling. It appears that another 50-60 would have emerged.|
|2/15/2004||The bananas on the end of the bunch appear to be turning black. A shade cloth has been placed over the bunch even though the sun is not currently strong, and should not be a factor. Furthermore, temperatures have not gone close to freezing here for over a month so cold should not be a factor either.|
|3/10/2004||All of the bananas have turned black and spoiled. This leads me to believe the problem is not the weather but rather the soil. The most likely problem is the high salt content of our soil. This year I will use more gypsum to leach away the salt and see if this is effective. The bananas will still be covered when they emerge to eliminate the sun as a variable.|
|5/15/2004||Flower. Deep soaked the tree with Gypsum to leach the sodium out of the root zone. I will not fertilize the tree anymore until the bananas are ripe. I will not cover bananas because they are emerging right next to the North facing wall, so they will not get direct sun after 10:30 AM. Stalk will not be splinted yet because it appears to be firm.|
|6/1/2004||Flower cut. Approximately 50 bananas present. Stalk is showing signs of carrying the weight but is still fairly upright.|
|6/16/2004||Noticed that stalk is more firm after watering. Therefore, I am watering the banana 5 times a week to make sure the soil is constantly wet. Day time temperatures are 105 Fahrenheit.|
I actually didn't water the banana 5 times a week as I thought I would but they still turned out well. It was automatically being watered 3 times per. week and I might have given it an extra watering by hand every now and then, so it probably was watered 4 times week on average during the hottest part of summer.
The bananas were too heavy for the stalk but lacking a good way to support the stalk I waited until the bananas were actually touching the ground before putting in a support. Unfortunately, the stalk crimped some before I supported it but it wasn't damaged enough to kill the bananas. The support I used was an old umbrella baby stroller.
I did not fertilize the plant the entire time the fruit were present. I believe this was the key to success because last summer the bananas spoiled immediately after being fertilized. I also put some gypsum at the base when the flower appeared but used nothing but water after that point.
The banana bunch was hanging very close to the North side of the wall. This position might have also helped by reducing the amount of direct sun they were exposed to.
The bunch was harvested as soon as the first hand turned yellow, as can be seen in the photo below. The bananas that had already turned yellow were overripe and therefore not very tasty. It appears that they go from green to ripe extremely quickly on the tree in the Phoenix heat. The rest of the bunch was brought into the house and set on the counter to ripen. In approximately a week they were ripe and about 40% of the bunch was quite delicious. Some of the other bananas split and bruised and were less than ideal. Enano Gigante bananas grown here are smaller than supermarket bananas and somewhat creamier. The flavor is very similar to supermarket bananas.