Tips for a more fruitful planting

Fertilizer

Bananas are best transplanted in August or early September, when the new stalks are showing. Some considerations for any prospective growers of the tropical plant:

Names: Banana plants are grouped botanically as Musa or Ensete.

Growth cycle: Typically, shrubs will grow between 15 and 25 feet tall. They normally produce fruit 12 to 15 months after planting, and the fruit takes another three to four months to mature.

Soil: As with any plant, the soil is key. You want it to be rich and complex, with good drainage. Keep your banana moist and mulched. Gypsum is a good mineral supplement to use. In alkaline soils, use an acid-forming fertilizer, such as those designed for azaleas and camellias. Otherwise, fertilize as needed throughout the growing season with an all-purpose organic fertilizer.

Water: Bananas require about the same amount of watering as lawns. Your watering schedule should be adapted to the seasons, as one would do with grass. Spritz leaves on the hottest days of summer, and occasionally clean off grit.

Harvest: Pick the bananas when they're plump but not ripe. Hang them in a shady, cool area and allow them to ripen off the plant.

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