How to grow a banana tree

Bananas are incredibly versatile fruits and popular snacks around the world. With large leaves that add a touch of the tropics to any backyard, they are also great for growing in the garden.

Banana trees (which are not technically trees, but herbaceous perennials) are wonderfully easy plants to grow. In the right conditions, they will produce an abundance of fruits for you to enjoy any way you like, or to share with friends and family. They need full sun, plenty of water, and regular feeding after planting in spring to grow to their full potential. Learn how to grow a banana tree here!

How to grow a banana tree (1)

About banana trees

Banana trees come from the genus Musa, under the plant family Musaceae. While they are commonly called banana trees due to their impressive size, they are actually not trees at all. Due to their fleshy stems, they are technically considered herbaceous plants – one of the largest in the world.

To make matters even more confusing, banana fruits are also technically classified as berries. They may not look much like the typical berries we know and love, but botanically they do have a similar structure. This even applies to plants typically classified as vegetables, such as cucumbers.

Banana fruits didn’t always look the way they do today. Modern banana plants come from two older species found in the wild –  Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana (plantain). Although native to tropical areas around Southeast Asia and Australia, bananas are grown and farmed around the world for their fruits.

Due to their love of warm temperatures and high humidity, as well as their wonderful tropical foliage, banana trees have also become popular indoor plants. Although they are unlikely to produce fruit when grown indoors, they do make great leafy plants to fill empty corners.

Banana tree varieties

You may want to grow banana trees that produce similar fruits to what you find in grocery stores. While this is certainly possible, you can also choose between a wide variety of banana trees with fruits you won’t be able to find elsewhere. The different varieties also have slightly different growth habits and characteristics, allowing you to choose the perfect type for your backyard.

Cavendish bananas are the most common fruits in grocery stores, widely available for growing too. For smaller gardens, Dwarf Cavendish is an ideal and easy-to-grow option. Lady Finger is another popular variety, slightly less common but considered to have a superior flavor.

For those looking for something a little more unique, there are even banana trees with different colored fruits. Red banana trees produce captivating maroon fruits that instantly turn heads. Or you can try Blue Java, a popular variety for growing in home gardens due to its cold resistance and tasty fruits said to taste like vanilla ice cream.

There are hundreds of different banana varieties to choose from, making it tough to find the perfect option. If you’re struggling, it’s best to head to your local nursery to see what they have available. Not only is this the easiest way to acquire your tree, but it also means that variety is more likely to grow successfully in your area.

Young banana plant

Planting banana trees

Planting banana trees is not a tricky task. Once they have the perfect spot guaranteed to fuel quick growth and fruiting, there are a few simple steps to follow.

When is the best time to plant bananas?

Banana trees come from warm climates where they don’t handle cold well. They do most of their growing during spring and summer when temperatures are high. That means the best time to plant banana trees is in early spring to make sure they settle into their new homes quickly.

It’s best to avoid extreme temperatures when planting to prevent unnecessary stress. Wait until all chances of frost have passed and the soil has warmed before planting in early spring. Similarly, avoid planting during the height of summer to avoid heat stress and extra watering.

Where should bananas be planted?

Most banana tree varieties grow quite large – some up to 20 feet tall. Dwarf varieties won’t grow that high, but still grow better when they have enough space to expand and aren’t overcrowded. Leave around 10 feet of space between banana trees, making the gap slightly smaller if you’re growing a dwarf variety.

Banana trees need a position in your garden that receives a full day of direct sun. They prefer as much sunlight as possible for the best fruiting. If you live in a very warm climate with intense sunlight they will be able to handle some partial afternoon shade, but generally grow best in full sun positions.

They also need to be planted in areas with well-draining soil. These adaptive plants can handle a wide range of soil types, but won’t grow well for long in waterlogged soil. As they like moisture, the soil should be amended with compost, but shouldn’t be the texture of heavy clay that doesn’t drain well.

How to plant bananas

To start planting your bananas, grab a shovel and dig a hole around double the size and width of the container your banana tree came in. This allows you to amend the soil directly in contact with the root system and provides enough space for the roots to expand in loose and friable soil.

Once you’ve dug your hole, mix an equal amount of compost into the removed soil and place some of this mixture at the bottom of the hole, ready for planting.

Remove the banana tree from its container and lower it into the hole, keeping it at the same height as it was previously. Gently tease the roots to encourage them to grow outwards rather than around each other after planting. Water immediately after planting to saturate the roots and settle any air pockets.

Banana bunches

Banana tree care

If you’re not growing your banana trees in a climate similar to their native habitats, they can be considered needy plants. But, following some essential care steps, you should have no trouble keeping your banana plants alive.


Bananas are known for being thirsty plants. They need plenty of water, especially during the warm seasons of spring and summer when they do most of their growing.

If you live in an area with rainy summers, your banana trees will be incredibly happy. However, if your summers are on the drier side, expect to water often. This can be as much as once per day if temperatures are high. Regular watering is essential to avoid stress and ensure the strongest possible fruits.

Although they like moist soil, it should never be too wet or soggy. This can lead to rotting in the roots and stems which limits any chances of fruiting down the line. Water slowly and deeply, but make sure there is no water pooling around the base.


Banana trees are considered heavy feeders, needing a regular dose of additional nutrients throughout the season. These nutrients fuel their rapid growth and allow the banana trees to grow and fruit to their full potential.

In spring and summer, it’s best to fertilize your banana trees around once per month, depending on which products you are using. Soon after planting, a fertilizer slightly higher in nitrogen will promote leaf and stem growth, developing strong plants early on. Later, it’s best to switch to a fertilizer with higher amounts of phosphorus and potassium to encourage fruiting.

Fertilizer should be applied evenly around the tree to reach all the roots. Don’t apply any product right on the trunk as this can lead to damage that is tough to fix.

Growing banana trees indoors

If you’re happy to grow a banana tree for its foliage rather than its fruit, they make great indoor, patio or balcony plants. For strong growth, they need a spot right in front of a sunny south-facing window where they can get as much direct sun throughout the day as possible. You will also need to water every few days to stop the container from drying out too quickly. Fertilize often and repot when your banana tree grows too large for its current container.

Should you cut dead leaves off banana trees

How to prune banana trees

While banana trees don’t seem like the type of plants that need regular pruning, this process does come with several benefits:

  • Protection against pest and disease damage.
  • Improving or managing growth.
  • Directing the energy toward certain types of growth.
  • Improving harvesting for following seasons.

Banana trees are pruned at the end of the season once all the fruits have been harvested. However, you can prune sooner if you notice growth problems or signs of pests and diseases.

To trim your banana tree, start by removing the older outer leaves and areas of damage. Then, either leave the inner leaves as is or cut back if it’s the end of the season. Then, check the base of your banana tree for suckers – small versions of the main plant. Identify the strongest sucker and leave it, cutting back the rest of the plant to make way for new growth.

Harvesting bananas

After about 9 months, you should see your first bunch of bananas, known as a hand. You can leave the fruits to ripen on the plant or bring them indoors to finish ripening. Leaving them does make them vulnerable to attack from bugs and birds, but this can be combatted by covering hands that are ready for harvest with plastic.

Once ripe, you can eat your bananas fresh (if you’ve chosen a variety with fruits that can be eaten fresh), or get ready to use them in cooking. Classic banana bread is one of my favorite uses for these plants and is great for using an abundance of bananas that may be a little past their prime.

Banana plants in the garden

FAQs about how to grow a banana tree

What climate do banana trees need?

Extreme temperatures should be avoided when planting to minimize needless stress. Planting in early spring should be delayed until all chances of frost have passed and the soil has warmed. To reduce heat stress and additional watering, avoid planting during the hottest part of the summer.

Do banana trees need a lot of water?

They need plenty of water, especially during the warm seasons of spring and summer when they do most of their growing. . Regular watering is essential to avoid stress and ensure the strongest possible fruits but make sure there is no water pooling around the base.

Before you go…

Growing a banana tree can be a rewarding experience. With the right location, soil preparation, and maintenance you will have a successful banana tree that will produce beautiful and delicious bananas, for years to come. Don’t forget to water and fertilize your tree regularly as well. So don’t hesitate – get out there and start planting those trees.



Need more info?

Are you interested in learning more about how to grow a banana tree? Here are our best articles about it!

Let’s go!
Madison Moulton
Madison Moulton

Madison Moulton is an esteemed gardening writer and editor with a profound affection for plants that took root in her childhood. As a life-long plant enthusiast, Madison’s early captivation with indoor gardening blossomed into a full-fledged profession. Her dedication and expertise in the field have seen her words grace the pages of several national gardening magazines, as well as some of the most popular online platforms.

With bylines in notable gardening publications such as Epic Gardening, Rural Sprout, Homes & Gardens, and All About Gardening, Madison’s voice stands out as a beacon for sustainable and eco-friendly gardening practices. Moreover, her vast experience with tropical plants has not only made her a valuable contributor to our team but has also earned her features in esteemed platforms like Real Homes and Architectural Digest.

While Madison’s extensive writing portfolio speaks volumes about her gardening expertise, her mission remains consistent: to inspire novice and seasoned gardeners alike to approach gardening with both the flora and the earth’s well-being at heart. Outside the digital realm, Madison is hands-on, immersing herself in the rich soils of her home country, South Africa, where she passionately plants and tends to her own garden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *