The Best Soil For Banana Trees (And How To Prepare It)

Green banana hanging on a branch of a banana tree

Have you always wanted to have a banana tree in your yard? Maybe you are looking to start a produce business and banana trees would fit right in. After making sure you have the right climate for one, you need to find out about the best soil for banana trees.

If you live in a tropical climate, you won’t have any trouble finding the right type of soil to grow your banana tree in, which consists of lava rock and sand. Without this climate, banana trees can thrive in cactus-specific soil coupled with a sunny location.

Once you learn how to get the soil prepared for your banana tree you will be reaping the fruits of your labor in less than a year (I know, I couldn’t resist!) With a few added details and just the right soil, your banana tree will grow at its optimum level for many years to come.

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What Are Banana Trees?

Banana plantations in dong nai province, southern vietnam.

Banana trees are the plants that produce the sweet yellow fruit that you find in the grocery store and on produce stands. They love the tropics but the truth is you can actually grow them just about anywhere if you pay attention to their needs.

There are around 1,000 different kinds of bananas that can be found growing in over 150 countries. Some are pretty familiar, but a few will surprise you. 

The most common is the Cavendish, which are the ones that we buy at the grocery store. An interesting variety is the Blue Java, also known as the ‘Ice Cream’ banana because it tastes similar to vanilla ice cream. Musa Velutina bananas bear pretty pink fruit but have a lot of seeds and are difficult to eat.

According to Perdue University’s Center for Crops, the banana tree is a large herb (for the sake of this article we are going to continue calling it a tree.)

Because their makeup doesn’t include a woody stem, banana trees are considered to be an herb. As an herb, they can grow as tall as 40 feet high making them one of the tallest in this class in the world. 

Even though it is technically called an herb, it really looks more like a tree. The structure of this plant lies in the way the leaves grow. At the base of the banana tree, the leaves intertwine with each other creating what is known as a pseudo-stem, which can carry the weight of the tree. 

6 Conditions Banana Trees Need To Thrive And Bear Fruit

Banana tree with bunch of green growing raw bananas

You may be wanting to grow banana trees just as an addition to your yard or you may be wanting to start a small banana plantation professionally. Either way, certain conditions that must be met for them to thrive and produce beautiful sweet bananas by the bunch.

1. Banana Trees Need A Humid Climate

Ideally, banana trees would like to have a flowered lei around their neck and call Hawaii home, but any place that is warm and humid will do. This does not mean you can’t grow a banana tree in an area that gets a little chilly here and there. More on how to deal with that in a minute.

2. Banana Trees Need Warm Temperatures

For a banana tree, a good day is when the temperature is around 80 degrees and it is humid outside. You will want to make sure you live in an area where the temperature doesn’t get below 55 degrees. 

You can up the humidity of your banana tree by misting it daily, or if it is in a container you can put it on a tray of pebbles or small rocks. Inside, you can place it near a humidifier.

3. Banana Trees Need Full Sun

Landscape of central thailand, a banana tree, rocks in the background

They really like to bask in full sun, but you may need to keep an eye on the and give them a little bit of shade now and then. Six hours of sun is what they want, but you have to make sure they don’t get burned. (Think of it like telling your kids to make sure to wear sunscreen.)

4. Banana Trees Need Well Drained Soil

Ah, the all-important part that is truly the base that will help the banana tree thrive and bear fruit. Make sure not to get just any potting from a home and garden department. Banana trees need soil that can drain easily or the tree will die if it is left in any kind of water build-up.

Banana Plant Potting Soil Mix is a hand-made mixture that has been created specifically for banana trees! It comes in an 8-quart bag that will be the perfect soil for your banana plant.

5. Banana Trees Need Frequent Watering

During the summer months, a banana tree should be watered about every couple of days. When watering, take your time and make sure it is reaching down deep and getting to the roots. Do not overwater or the roots will rot. Feel the soil and if the top inch feels dry, it is time to water it again.

6. Banana Trees Need Fertilization

While your banana tree is growing, you should fertilize your banana tree every month. An all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer will work well for your banana tree. Southern Ag All Purpose Granular Fertilizer 10-10-10, has equal parts nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, to help your banana tree flourish.

How Do You Prepare The Soil For Your Banana Tree?

Banana trees in thailand

There are a few things you can do before you plant your banana tree that will give it the best chance not only of survival but the most productive life it can have. You don’t have to wait until it’s warmer if you plan on planting your tree in the cooler months, just make sure it is not cold.

Because the roots of the banana tree do best when they have enough room to spread out, make sure the hole you dig is not only deep but wide. Put some of the special soil you have for your tree at the bottom of the hole so it can get directly to the roots right away.

To prepare the soil, make sure it is loosened up so it is porous enough for the water to drain properly. You can mix in some compost If you have some peat moss or manure will help with the mixture as well.

The soil should be one that is specifically for growing banana trees. These blends ensure that the roots get enough hydration but the soil can drain and not clump up leaving your banana tree sitting in water. 

Can You Grow Banana Trees In Pots? 

Fresh green banana tree with flora

Not only can you grow banana trees in pots you can actually grow them inside your home. If you don’t have enough land to grow a banana tree with its expansive root system, you can easily grow a banana tree in a plastic, ceramic, or wooden pot. Just make sure you start with at least a 15-gallon pot.

Once it begins to grow and needs to be moved to a larger pot, you can either move it and plant it outside or find an even larger pot to plant it in. Growing your tree indoors you will need to make sure that the soil can always stay well-drained. Look for soil that has a good combination of vermiculite and perlite.

When you grow a banana tree indoors it is important to get just the right soil for it to grow. The soil has to be able to drain while still keeping the banana tree hydrated. Once you water your tree, make sure it is well-drained and dry before you water it again.

Until you decide if you want your banana tree to continue to grow indoors or if you want to move it outside, you may want to start with Soft POTS.

The 15-gallon pots are made of a thick fabric that is made from recycled water bottles. They are breathable providing good aeration for your trees and it has handles on each side so you can move them around when they need more or less sun.

What Is A Dwarf Banana Tree? 

Dwarf banana

A dwarf banana tree is actually just a smaller version of the Cavendish banana tree. This is the type of banana tree that produces the bananas that we currently get at our local produce stands and grocery stores.

While the conditions it requires are similar to the regular-sized banana tree there are a few things it requires that are different. It does like full sunlight but it can exist in some shade.

As for the soil for the dwarf Cavendish banana tree, it likes it to be loamy and able to drain well. The makeup should be a combination of silt and sand with some clay added. They also like their soil to be more acidic with a pH level that ranges from 5.5 to 6.5

The Best Soil For Indoor And Outdoor Banana Trees

Banana trees

While the soil needs for banana trees for indoor, outdoor, and dwarf banana trees are similar, here is an easy breakdown for each and how to prepare it.

Outdoor Banana Trees

The main type of soil that an outdoor banana tree must-have keeps the tree wet but not sitting in water. That will end up causing issues for your banana tree. It prefers some sandy soil but still needs to be well-draining.

If you are adding a banana tree to your existing outside garden, you can add some perlite to keep it well-drained. In the summer months when the weather is warmer, you should water your banana tree once or twice a day. 

Keep the pH level of your banana trees at 5.5 to 7. Make sure it does not go above 7.5. Keep an eye on the pH levels and invest in a home test so you can check it at least once a year.

Bananas have a lot of potassium in them and it is because they require a high level of potassium while they are growing. Use a fertilizer that is high in potassium and it will help the growth of your banana tree, and even add some compost to the soil. Mist them daily to bring up the humidity level.

Indoor Or Potted Banana Trees

When you are dealing with an indoor banana tree that you are growing in a pot, you may want to select a soil mixture that uses organic materials or one that will continuously provide nutrition. This will give your indoor tree nutrition regularly as it releases it in a time-release manner.

Make sure you keep the acidity level under the pH level of 7. Banana trees need to be in pots that are large enough to accommodate their spreading root system. And while they are growing, fertilize them regularly with a 10-10-10 combination of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. 

Banana trees love to be treated with a lot of potassium. But they are not stingy with it, they use it to pass it on to their fruit.

Dwarf Cavendish Banana Trees

These mini versions of the common Cavendish banana trees are easy to grow and will make a great ornamental addition as a potted plant, or a fruit-bearing tree in your outside garden. 

Just like the other types of banana trees, they like soil that will drain well but still keep them hydrated. The soil should have a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5 and your banana tree should be fertilized every couple of months. You can plant it outside if you have room or inside in a roomy pot that has a good drainage base.

That’s A Wrap!

Banana plants on a farm beside the mountain

No matter where you live, the good news is that you will be able to grow a banana tree. If you have plenty of room you can grow several. 

If you don’t have much room you can grow just one.  And if you don’t have enough room for any trees you can grow one right in a pot in your home. 

Knowing the best soil for banana trees in each type of environment will give them the best chance not only for survival but for producing fruit on an ongoing basis. And if it looks like they are done producing bananas, don’t count them out.

Once they finish growing a bunch of bananas, another rhizome will pop up on the other side and will soon enough produce another bunch.

Thanks for sticking around and learning all about the best soil for banana trees! We wish you the best of luck on your banana tree journey!

References 

Collins, J. H. (1924). Growing Our Own Bananas. Scientific American131(2), 86-139.

Lahav, E. (1995). Banana nutrition. In Bananas and plantains(pp. 258-316). Springer, Dordrecht.

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