Propagating Banana Plants – Growing Banana Trees From Seeds

Propagating Banana Plants – Growing Banana Trees From Seeds

By: Amy Grant

Commercially grown bananas that are cultivated specifically for consumption don’t have seeds. Over time, they have been modified to have three sets of genes instead of two (triploid) and produce no seeds. In nature, however, one encounters many banana types with seeds; in fact, some seeds are so large it is difficult to get to the pulp. That said, can you grow bananas from seed? Read on to find out about growing banana trees from seeds.

Can You Grow Bananas from Seed?

As mentioned above, the banana you are eating for breakfast has been genetically tinkered with to lack seeds and are usually Cavendish bananas. There are many other banana varieties out there and they do contain seeds.

Cavendish bananas are propagated by pups or suckers, pieces of rhizome that form into miniature banana plants that can be severed from the parent and planted to become a separate plant. In the wild, bananas are propagated via seed. You, too, can grow seed grown bananas.

Propagating Banana Plants

If you want to grow seed grown bananas, be aware that the resulting fruit will not be like those you buy at the grocers. They will contain seeds and, depending upon the variety, might be so large that the fruit is difficult to get to. That said, from what I have read, many people say the flavor of wild bananas is superior to the grocery store version.

To begin germinating the banana seeds, soak the seed in warm water for 24 to 48 hours to break the seed dormancy. This softens the seed coat, enabling the embryo to sprout more easily and rapidly.

Prepare an outdoor bed in a sunny area or use a seed tray or other container and fill with potting soil enriched with plenty of organic compost in the amount of 60% sand or airy, loam to 40% organic matter. Sow the banana seeds 1/4 inch (.6 cm.) deep and backfill with compost. Water the seeds until the soil is moist, not drenched, and maintain damp conditions while growing banana trees from seeds.

When germinating banana seeds, even hardy bananas, keep the temperature at least 60 degrees F. (15 C.). Different varieties respond to temperature fluxes differently, however. Some do well with 19 hours of cool and 5 hours of warm temps. Using a heated propagator and turning it on during the day and off at night may be the easiest way to monitor temperature fluctuations.

The time that a banana seed germinates, again, depends on the variety. Some germinate in 2-3 weeks while others may take two or more months, so be patient when propagating banana plants via seed.

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Growing banana tree in pot in a tropical climate is extremely easy, with little to no care banana tree grows in the container. If you’re living under USDA Zones 9 to 11, keep your banana tree in the shade in afternoon in summer, when the plant is young. All the other requirements are similar as given below in the article for temperate zones.


AFAIK Eatable bananas are sterile and do not contain viable seed.

The commercial banana is grown from cuttings after the bananas are picked then fern dies.

In actual fact your biggest enemy is the climate - bananas need a hot wet climate to grow and fruit. You can easily buy banana plants in a garden centre they are sold as foliage plants for indoors.

Shows banana seeds so you can decide if you have any - They are quite big.

it seems however, it's illegal in Queensland, Australia to buy or even sell a banana tree. just thought i'd add that as i've been asking about them myself.

having a go at growing my own plant myself, and hoping it all goes smooth.

hi I have been talking to a man who has a micro compost business . He was showing me round his plot and showed me his bananas from seed. They are perfect. Fantastic eating. I will grab a cutting for my garden.

Like you can see in the picture, the banana "seeds" are children plants growing at the base of the mother plant. Bananas are only produced once and after they are harvested the farmer cuts the plant down, thus, all the nutrients go to the seeds.

this doesnt change the fact i have seeds and no intention of buying a banana plant. i will not accept you telling me that bananas are not real! why does everyone do this, is it some great conspiracy to prevent others from getting free bananas? do we all have to buy babie bananas from the stores? cant we grow our own? why do you do this! what is wrong with you!

No one said Banana seed is not real - they are very real - see picture below BUT as you can see they are really big and no one would eat the bananas.

SO Sterile plants have been developed that do not grow the big seeds, these are the bananas you eat.

Now you CAN buy or find seed but you will get a foliage plane and NOT one where you can eat the bananas.

the bananas i have here only seem to develope a few seeds and if allowed to grow, get to be a decent size and are in my eyes, edible.

will the grow the same? or for some reason will they not turn out the same?

Possibly - give it a try - put some in a pot with soil and keep watered let us know what grows. Good luck.

i wahsed all the gunk off and am trying to sprout 1 bananas worth of seeds in a seed tray, i too hope they work. ive seen the bananas of this species back in darwin grow to almost 3/4 the size of your typical superket seedless variety, but several times sweeter and more banana flavoured. That is, if allowed to fully develope and almost ripen on the tree

12 months later. Have any tasty bananas yet?

yes, they sprouted, but the bananas produced have pea sized seeds in them, they taste the same, awsome, but the seeds are there, so i think that what i got initially was a crossbreed that makes less seeds and smaller seeds.

I come here to see if someone germinate a bananas seed?

I am from Vietnam, a country with hundreds of banana varieties, including wild bananas in the jungle, and seeded bananas for medicine. The least seeds in the fruit, the more tastier the banana is. None of banana seeds in Vietnam can germinate. Wherever in the world, do you find a picture of a bananas seed germinating?

If you read all the comments it would seem that with the right heat and light and lots of water you can germinate the seed. What you get you will have to try and see if it can be eaten. Good luck.

Yours is a very immature response. No one is obligated to answer your questions. Instead of responding like a spoiled brat, show some respect and remember that you are dealing with people.

Jpoopydog has asked almost 250 questions by now. I've notice most people have just stopped answering his questions since he's always either rude or trying to show off. I admire your restraint in your response to him blkhawk :p

actually, most people, like you, are rude to me, and tell me what im doing is impossible, leaving me to do things trial and error on my own, and in 99% of the time, eventually succeeding.

Is it so much for people who have the answer to give it, rather than the complete opposit such as what im seeing here. currently, rickharris has told me the following things, bananas cannot be grown, dont bother with your dreams and aspirations, i dont like bananas with big seeds like in the photo so neither should you, go buy pregrown bananas from a nursery for hundreds of dollars, ignore the hundreds of viable seeds you have in your possesion, go waste money, its not worth the effort.

because thats all im hearing. i even explicitly asked anyone who thinks bananas are ungrowable, to not answer. you think im rude but your telling me to give up on something saying its impossible or impractical. what if i dont want the fruit? what if i just want to grow the plant? then what? is it still impossible to grow from seed?

Ok As I got named lets review my comments:

1. I did NOT tell you Bananas can not be grown - Indeed I said the reverse.

"AFAIK Eatable bananas are sterile and do not contain viable seed. The commercial banana is grown from cuttings after the bananas are picked then fern dies"

2. I did NOT say don't bother with your dreams etc, I gave you a number of alternatives

"In actual fact your biggest enemy is the climate - bananas need a hot wet climate to grow and fruit. You can easily buy banana plants in a garden centre they are sold as foliage plants for indoors."

3. I also pointed you at a video which answered your questions more fully.

4. I did not say I don't like banana with big seeds in etc at all only that seeded natural bananas have large seeds in with people in general don't like so alternatives have been created which is what we normally see. If you like the seeds then fine - I believe the taste is different as well. However have no personal experience of this.

Read more carfully what IS written and NOT what you THINK might have been written.

Other then that good luck with your growing and thanks for the best answer.

How to grow edible bananas at home

Bananas are a versatile plant in any landscape, and add a lush, tropical look to any area. Although everyone knows the fruit, few people have experience growing edible varieties of the plant. Did you know that bananas can grow it regions other than the tropics? They are actually the world’s largest herb, a plant that goes on producing year after year.

Bananas, botanically in the Musa genus, are distantly related to ginger and heliconia. What looks like a trunk is actually a pseudostem, formed by leaves wrapping around each other, with new leaves arising from the centre as the plant grows. The true stem is underground. Bananas are fast growing, usually putting out one new leaf every week. Some form clumps by suckering and others remain solitary.

[Note that Ensete ventricosum, the false banana, is closely related and similar-looking plant but is grown for its decorative foliage, or its starchy rhizome, not its fruit]

Climate: bananas like a subtropical climate to do best, with high humidity (at least 50%) and temperatures around 25-30ºC (75-85º F). They will suffer in places with dry, hot summers, unless you’ve got some way of making a more humid microclimate. Wind can shred the leaves and make them look pretty ugly (as well as dessicate the plant), so if you’ve got room to plant several together, they can make their own sheltered microclimate. In cooler but humid climates, choose a sheltered, sunny spot, but in hot tropical areas you’d be better off growing them in some shade.

Commercially grown Cavendish bananas

While it is possible to grow banana plants in cool temperate zones and have them produce fruit, unfortunately it is unlikely that the fruit will mature properly before cold weather sets in. Banana plants in cool temperate districts tend to produce a bunch in early summer which would have them ripen well into the cold weather period of mid-winter 6 months later. In the cooler climate of southern Victoria (for example Melbourne), with the shorter daylight hours and overnight temperature drops, maturation takes from 5 to 6 months or more (again depending on conditions).

Bananas can, however, be picked early and ripened by placing in a plastic bag with a couple ripening apples, although some say that because the fruit is not mature it lacks flavour and sweetness.

I’ve seen banana plants being coddled in the south of England at Great Dixter. (photo below). These plants are protected by a surrounding hedge, as well as a stack of hay which is held together by bamboo poles. Cavendish banana, Musa acuminata, is one of the best for cold climates and others like sugar banana, Musa paradisiaca, are a good all-round variety.

Bananas at Great Dixter, UK, protected by hay

Planting: In Australia, before you plant a banana you need to check with your state government authority whether you need a planting permit as there are several banana protection areas through Queensland and NSW. It’s free, but absolutely necessary, even for one backyard plant in your home garden. This means that the source of any disease threats like devastating bunchy top (see Pests and Diseases below) which is spread by people planting infected suckers, or potentially weedy wild bananas can be quickly identified, which will help protect the country’s banana-growing industry.

Bananas are a BIG plant, up to 10m (33ft) so you need to make sure you’ve got plenty of room for the plant to grow and mature, and they’ll grow better if they’re away from trees with strongly competing root systems. They’re grown from a rhizome which you plant in rich, well-drained soil, covering the rhizome with only about 2cm (½ inch) of soil, or it will rot. You might buy a plant already in leaf – some people like to cut off those leaves and also trim back any roots to a 3-5 cm (2 inches). And no, you can’t grow bananas from seed, as only wild bananas have seeds.

Improve your soil with manure and compost so it both holds water but still drains well. Water the newly planted banana well, and make sure you keep it well-watered as it grows. Bananas need a lot of water!

Growth: The fleshy ‘stems’ sheathed with huge broad leaves can grow up to 10 metres (33ft) in as little as 1 year, depending on the variety and growing environment. Keep your plant well-watered and fed with a balanced fertiliser, although bananas do like lots of potassium as well. If the temperature drops too low (under 14ºC, or 55ºF), stop fertilising and watering. Keep the soil well-mulched. Each new leaf appears as a furled ‘cigar’ leaf, which takes about a week to unfurl. After the plant stops producing these cigar leaves, it is mature and ready to flower.

Banana plant showing large purple male flower ‘bell’ with the female flower showing at the top of the bell as the bracts curl back.

Flowering and Fruiting: After approximately six months, when the banana plant’s leaf formation is completed and the plant has matured, a flowering stalk grows up through the centre of the pseudostem and emerges from the top of the plant. This flowering stalk appears as a large, dark-purple bud and is called the bell. This is the male part of the flower. As the upper female part of the flower matures, the covering bracts curl back to show a developing ‘hand’ of bananas. Unusually, the fruit develops parthenocarpically, which means without fertilisation, or any seeds.

Some banana plants can produce up to 10 or so flowers and hands. As the hand grows, it can become very heavy (up to 40kg, or 90lbs) so you might need to prop or tie it up. In the subtropics it takes between 2 and 4 months for bananas to ripen (depending on variety, weather and other conditions). The hand turns upwards as the fruit grows.

Cavendish banana showing the female flowers developing into fruit. Photo by *Spatz* (Creative Commons Licence 3.0)

Harvesting: Like most fruit, bananas that have been left to ripen on the plant taste the best and that way they will not all ripen at once. They will start ripening once the last bits of flower at the base of the banana rub off easily, or as the plant begins to die back. But watch out for banana thieves, like possums, rats and birds! And if the banana hand is in too much sun, it might also scorch on a hot day. You can cover it with shade cloth, or a coloured plastic bag which is what most commercial growers do.

Don’t forget to harvest your banana leaves as well, which make great wrappings for steaming fish and meat, or as a serving ‘plate’. You can also use the leaves and stems to make fibre and yarn.

Ripening hands of bananas

Once your banana plant has gone through its fruiting cycle (after about 9-10 months), the mother plant will begin to die, leaving lots of banana plant ‘pups’ around the base. This group of plants all attached to the one rhizome is called the ‘stool’ or ‘mat’. Cut the dying leaves of the original plant back to the ground (you can spread them as mulch) and allow one or two suckers to grow up as your new banana plants.

Banana pests and diseases: apart from banana-thieving pests, bananas can suffer from wilts like Panama wilt, nematodes and viruses like bunchy top, which is widespread in south-east Asia and the Pacific but progressively being eradicated from Australia. You can help efforts to eradicate banana bunchy top by learning to recognise infected plants and quickly notifying authorities about any suspect plants.

Banana Varieties:

There are hundreds of banana cultivars and many of the cultivar names are synonyms, which makes it very difficult to make a list, let alone recommendations. Cultivars can be diploid, triploid or tetraploid hybrids. If you want to delve into all things banana, look at the ProMusa website which is trying to build a stable list of banana cultivar names.

[Note that local quarantine restrictions may only allow you to grow certain cultivars in your area. Check with your local government authority.]

Cavendish: the most common fruit banana. You can also get Dwarf Cavendish which only grows to about 5m (16ft)

Lady Finger: smaller, straighter and sweeter fruit that does not brown when it’s cut.

Red Dacca banana Photo Harvey Barrison. (LIcence Creative Commons 2.0)

Red Dacca: red banana with orange flesh

Ducasse: often called a ‘sugar banana’. Must be ripened fully (completely yellow) before eating. Good for tropical zones as it’s more resistant to fungal diseases.

Senoritas: a small, round tropical banana with light orange flesh.

Plantains: although this is the most commonly grown banana in the world, it’s not good eating, being very starchy, so they are used mainly in cooking.

Other varieties include Pisang Celan, Blue Java and Bluggoe (a plantain variety).

Tasty Mutant

The banana is actually a type of plantain. Those of the sweet variety that we usually peel and eat raw are often called "dessert" bananas, owing to their sweetness and general snackability. What we call "plantains" simply have that popular name to distinguish them as the large varieties that are typically cooked before eating. Yummy, yellow dessert bananas are bred from mutant strains of banana plants that happened to produce fruit without useful seeds. Banana plants are cultivated by removing rhizomes from host plants and replanting the samples to grow on their own. With this method, one plant can become the "mother" of an entire plantation made up of genetically identical plants.

Watch the video: How To Propagate Banana From Cutting Fast Sokha Chetra