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How To Propagate Banana Plants

You have probably eaten at least one banana in your lifetime. You might have realized that bananas do not have seeds if you think about a banana. This is because nearly all commercial bananas are seedless, and these banana plants are grown as herbs (technically) instead of trees.

Of course, there are wild bananas that have seeds. However, the original banana tree (with seeds) is not very edible as the hard seeds are riddled through the banana. Sometimes, the seeds do not fertilize correctly, and there are seedless wild bananas. This is how people learned that seedless bananas are far better and much more edible. 

The best way to propagate a banana plant is through a meticulous cutting process. The banana plant will naturally grow little shoots that can be divided from the mother plant. These are the cuttings that create new banana plants, and they are called banana suckers or banana “pups.” 

To learn more about this interesting topic, we have all the answers to propagating bananas below. 

Dividing Banana Plants

The first step in propagating banana plants is to divide the banana pup from the mother plant. Here is how to do so.

Timing

You must wait until the banana pup is at least 12 inches tall. This is because by then, it has probably developed stable roots, and it needs those roots when it is replanted so that it doesn’t die. If you try to cut it sooner, it won’t have that strong root system and will likely not make it. 

Climate

You will want to wait to divide your banana pups until there is no danger of frost. Wait until the early spring, after the last threat of frost has passed. If you live in a climate where there is no frost danger, pups can be transplanted in late winter, before the spring starts. 

Cutting Roots

This is the actual process of removing the pup from the parent plant. First, remove the soil from around the plant’s roots and find where the pups plants meet the parent plants. Carefully, using a very sharp spade or knife, cut the pup roots from the parent roots. Be very careful not to cut the pup roots at all. 

Planting 

Once you have safely removed the banana pup from the mother plant, you will want to plant it in its new location immediately. You can plant it right in the ground or plant it in a large pot, at least 10 gallons. Dig a hole (prior to cutting the pup) large enough to put the pup in. Put the pup in the hole and cover. 

Fertilizer 

When planting banana plants, make sure the soil is well-draining and full of healthy organic matter. Banana plants also like slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0-6.5. 

Caring For Banana Plants

Once the banana pup has been planted, now it is time to care for the plant. It may take a couple of weeks for the cutting to “bounce back” from being transplanted. During this time, the leaves may look droopy as though they need water, but make sure you do not overwater; the roots adjust to their home. Give the plant some time, and it will look lifely again soon. 

Watering

Banana plants need 1-2 inches of water a week. That being said, banana plants hate being dried out. They prefer staying moist, not soaked, but moist all the time. If you live in a hot and dry climate, you may need to water your banana plants once a day. Mulch is a great way to keep moisture in your soil. Once the plant has been planted, add a layer of organic mulch. 

Nutrients

During the blooming season of a banana plant (the summer months), it is good to feed the banana plant nutrients to help boost production and get the best-tasting bananas out of it. Banana plants don’t need much nitrogen but love high potassium levels to make delicious bananas. During these months, feed your banana plant a fertilizer with a 3-15-15 ratio or something similar once a week for the best results. 

Pests and Diseases

Unfortunately, banana plants are very prone to several pests and diseases, especially once they’ve been transplanted and their systems are weakened. Keep a watchful eye out for anything suspicious. Let’s look at a few pests and diseases to keep your eye on.

PestsDiseases
Nematodes-
Nematodes are not visible
to the naked eye. They cause
the plant to rot. Nematodes
can be eradicated with nematicides,
otherwise they will live in the soil
forever and the soil must be heat 
treated.
Bunchy Top- 
Bunchy top is a common, but 
very destructive banana disease. 
Commonly transmitted through 
aphids, this disease will stop banana
production all together. New leaves
grow in strange shapes and much smaller,
leaves are deformed and bad colors.
Bananas will form to be very small
or they may not form at all. Infected
plants must be killed and burned,
then the aphids must be gone 
from your garden to stop the spread.
Banana Aphids-
Banana aphids feed on the 
banana cells and slowly suck
the life out of the banana plant. 
Aphids can be taken care of using 
insecticides, although they can also
be treated using a spray of 1:1 water
and vinegar with a splash of
liquid dish soap.
Black Leaf Streak Disease-
A very destructive disease. 
It attacks the foliage of the plant
and will cause the yield to be 
diminished by up to 50%. The bananas
will ripen early, and fall off the vine
before they are ready. Black leaf streak
disease makes the leaves look very yellow,
and brittle and will eventually brown and die. 
This disease can only be controlled with 
fungicides. 
Banana Weevil-
Weevils are nasty little bugs, only
12mm in length, they look like
little beetles almost. These
weevils make small tunnels through 
the entire plant, leaving a sappy
ooze wherever they go. In small
cases, they won’t do too much 
damage, but as their numbers
grow, the plant can die. Pesticides 
can get rid of them.
Crown Rot-
Is the rotting of the roots and 
the base of the plant. It is a nasty disease 
and can kill the plant. The best way to
treat the disease is by carefully taking
the plant out of the soil and removing any 
rotting leaves or roots. Next, dip the rest of
the roots in hot water and fungicide solution.
Make sure the roots fully dry out and are 
replanted in different soil.
Banana Rust Thrips- 
These thrips feed on the actual
banana by getting under the peel
and causing the fruit to rot. Pesticides
can get rid of thrips, as can the 
water/vinegar spray always small amounts 
of dish soap.
Black Leaf Spot-
Commonly called sigatoka. This is a fungal 
disease that happens in areas that are 
very moist. Spots will slowly form on the 
leaves, eventually getting bigger and bigger.
Fungicide can treat this disease. 
Spider Mites-
Spider mites happen especially 
during the warm months. They 
will eat the whole plant, but more 
specifically, the actual fruit. To get rid
of the them, you can spray your whole plant
with a mixture of water and alcohol, 
spraying the bottoms of the leaves
importantly. 
Fusarium Wilt-
Or in this case, banana wilt, is a disease that
starts in the soil and makes its way (fairly
quickly) through the plant, killing it. The
leaves will start to wilt and look as though 
they need water, but in fact they do not 
need water at all. Soon, the entire plant will
die. The only way to get rid of this disease
is to take out all the plants and burn them, then
heat treat the soil and rotate your crops.
Make sure to thoroughly clean any garden tools
that touched the infected soil.

Final Thoughts

Even though banana plants do not have seeds, they are fairly easy to propagate and grow. Always make sure to handle the cuttings with great care, not to damage the roots, then treat the plant kindly for a while as the roots stabilize. Although it may seem like a lot to grow bananas, it is very fun and so worth it. Happy gardening!