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GardenRN
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Indoor Banana growing discussion split from Price of Veggies

RBG-I guess it just comes down to having a heated greenhouse. I did see banana trees at home depot a few years ago that made mini bananas and was cold hardy down to -20 degrees. If you had a greenhouse maybe you would be able to winter one of those.
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rainbowgardener
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lorax wrote:RBG - you can indeed have bananas, you've just got to grow them yourself. The Dwarf cultivars (D. Cavendish, D. Red, D. Orinoco, etc.) were designed with you in mind, in fact - they're ideal for potted culture and can be grown year-round in the home.
Not going to have a heated greenhouse any time soon. But I thought lorax's idea of indoor bananas was brilliant! I wonder how many years you have to grow them before they produce bananas. Are they self fertile? How big are the dwarf bananas (the fruit)?

Anyway, I am definitely going to look into it! If I could have guilt free bananas, I would think life is good! :)
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applestar
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Yay! I'm getting at least one banana plant this spring! We can compare notes!

Don't get the cold hardy ones -- they're not edible. Lorax posted some details on varieties recently, most likely in the Fruits Forum. I'm definitely getting the Dwarf or Super Dwarf Cavendish as that's probably the tallest my ceiling will accommodate, but if you have an older home with high ceiling, you might be able to get one of the taller ones like ladyfinger or the red one she mentioned 8) My understanding is that once you have a "tree", pups (are they called pups?) will follow and the plants will self multiply.

My oldest pineapples grown from store-bought pineapple tops are starting to elongate. THIS may be the year they'll fruit!

I think with both of these you just have to get the growth-fruit-pup/offset cycles going.
Last edited by applestar on Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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GardenRN
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applestar wrote:Don't get the cold hardy ones -- they're not edible.
Don't mean to contradict, because I really don't know much about them, but the ones I saw at home depot definitely said they were edible. I wanted one bad but didn't get it, and I am not at all interested in ornamental fruits. :?

But that may very well be true for most varieties.
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lorax
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rainbowgardener wrote:Not going to have a heated greenhouse any time soon. But I thought lorax's idea of indoor bananas was brilliant! I wonder how many years you have to grow them before they produce bananas. Are they self fertile? How big are the dwarf bananas (the fruit)?

Anyway, I am definitely going to look into it! If I could have guilt free bananas, I would think life is good! :)
Two to three years for a single bunch, but the nice thing is that the plants also pup like crazy (yes, AS, that's the correct term), so if you time your plants correctly you can have almost constant harvest from about 10 plants in 2-3 years. Plus they're quite pretty. All of the edible bananas are parthenocarpic - no pollination required.

The banana size is roughly the same or a bit smaller than grocery store bananas, depending on the cultivar. Dwarf Cavendish, for example, is almost exactly the same, while Dwarf Red is a bit smaller (but the bananas have red skin!) Dwarf Orinoco makes triangular fruits with pink flesh. Dwarf Ladyfinger are the "baby" bananas you see sometimes in the supermarket.

If you've got 10 foot ceilings, any of the cultivars I mentioned above will be fine. If you've got 12-footers or more, you can even try Gran Nain (Chiquita Bananas), which are fairly short as far as non-dwarf banana plants go.

GRN - the cold-hardy bananas (Musa basjoo) have zillions of hard seeds in the fruit, unfortunately. They're not bad-tasting, but the more tender true edibles (seedless) are better. The dilemma with banana plants is that they're either hardy and full of seeds, or frost-tender with seedless fruits. Home Depot and their ilk often sell the hardy seeded types and call them edible, because it's technically true: eating the fruit won't poison you or anything. The seeds just make it kind of a task is all.

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Lorax-Gotcha! I didn't know that. Are the seeds bigger than the tiny black ones you see sometimes in store bought bananas? I wouldn't think you'd notice them any more than strawberry seeds.

I have a split foyer, I could easily have a banana tree in the corner, only problem is there's never much light there. Bummer, guess that won't work.
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lorax
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GRN - in Musa basjoo, the seeds are about the size of peas - pretty hard to ignore, IMHO. Same goes for Musa velutina, a shorter and less-hardy option which actually produces pretty tasty fruits around the seeds.

You'd have to install a fixture for bananas in your foyer, unfortunately - they're kind of light hogs.

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WOW! Didn't know bananas had seeds like that! Ya learn something new every day. :)

I think I'll just keep getting my bananas from the store. Not quite worth the effort to me. I couldn't keep up with all the bananas my kids eat even if I filled my foyer with 10 trees anyways lol.

Thanks for the info!
Jeff

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Lorax,

The Dwarf Cavendish, from what I have read from several sites, would be a great plant for indoor growing. I know the guy from greenhousebusiness.com and he claims they will produce bananas once they grow about 45 leaves - I was getting one per week until the temps and humidity dropped a bunch. Lost all the leaves and for probably close to two months, it did nothing. But it has sprouted two leaves in the past two days and has a 6" pup with two leaves - growing under the lid!

It's under a 125 watt LED panel in a DWC system.

Mike

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lorax
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Yup, Mike, every 45-50 leaves is the bunch (ie one year) in the tropics, but container plants rarely reach the growth rate of a leaf a week in household situations, for the exact reasons you've stated for your hydro SDC. That's why I gave a longer fruiting period.

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I'm going to pop in quick on another banana question, how much are they producing at the 2-3 year mark Lorax?

A bunch like 4-5 single bananas, or a bunch like those giant columns of bananas they get off trees in the tropics? (I'm assuming a dwarf variety would produce less bananas?)

I've been thinking about bananas down the road too, it's really the one thing we buy consistently that's flown in from outside the country (about an organic bunch of week, two young kids yah know :?)
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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lorax
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A bunch is between 2 and 10 hands (runs of 10-15, of which you're buying what are referred to as half-hands if you're getting 4-5 together) of fruit, nes (those giant columns of bananas, yes). Dwarf in the case of a banana plant refers to its height when it blooms, not its productivity; I grow Dwarf Reds and they still produce about 100 lbs of bananas (about 150 individual fruits) when they set fruit.

Typical Dwarf Cavendish production is around 80 lbs of bananas in the bunch; generally the plants require propping when the fruit sets to keep the pseudostems from breaking.

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nes
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:shock:
I think I'm going to buy a banana tree tomorrow...

Thanks lorax!
Obviously a banana tree isn't like growing lettuce, but you've made it sound very do-able. Definitely something I'm going to have to look further into!
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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Per Lorax's suggestion, this discussion has been split off and moved here to the Growing Fruit forum :wink:

...I had a momentary mad day dream of remodeling the SE end of the family room to raise the ceiling to the attic roof above and installing skylights.... 8)

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applestar wrote:
...I had a momentary mad day dream of remodeling the SE end of the family room to raise the ceiling to the attic roof above and installing skylights.... 8)
Great idea! Sounds do-able! :)

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I know my hubby is not going to like this!

We did not get the back porch enlarged to accomodate the attached atrium, so it is still in storage.

The porch must be removed, and rebuilt, 2 feet larger in each direction, and better reinforced with the weight of the glass and all the dirt and plants. And so, after reading this article... I am going to request that the legs be shortened on the porch, and then the sides built up a couple feet, before the atrium is set on them... I should be able to get 10 feet height, that way, and it still fit under the house eaves!

I already had plans for miniature citrus trees. And now bananas! Alright!

But, where do you get banana plants? Is there a best one for homegrowing in an atrium? Are there nurseries to avoid? I see several online sources, anyone have experience with any of them?

What kinds of pests do banana trees get?
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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lorax
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OK, lots of questions!

The best sources for banana plants in the US are Agristarts (although you have to order 72 or 74 plantlets at a time, so it's a good idea to go in on an order from them with friends), and Northern Tropics (Sandy is very friendly and reliable). Other than that, start asking around. Applestar, who is in New Jersey, should PM me for the contact info of my friend Bob, who often trades pups of intriguing varieties from his own collection (which is extensive and includes some of the rarer edibles).

Avoid TyTy nurseries - they have consistently bad customer reviews.

The best atrium plants are the Dwarf cultivars (D. Cavendish, D. Red, D. Orinoco, D. Ladyfinger, D. Namwah), and the "shorter" non-dwarfs Gran Nain, Raja Puri, and Ice Cream. Of course, if you can get your hands on Highgate, Lowgate, Cocos, or Gros Michel, you really should. Those are the bananas of your youth if you're over 35.

If you have insane high ceilings (read, over 12' of clearance), look at Goldfinger (FHIA 1), Ladyfinger, 1000 Fingers, Orinoco, Cuban or Jamaican Red, Lacatan, and Pisang Mas, and any of the plantain-types (if you like plantains). These can be insanely tall plants, though. Limiting the space their corms occupy, however, generally brings them down to a manageable size.

Pestwise, indoor bananas are susceptible to Spider Mites (ugh, but if you raise the humidity in the atrium they go away), certain specific types of aphids (rare in the US), and Fungus Gnats (which don't seem to hurt the tree, they just live there.) Some types of green cutworm caterpillars also munch out on the leaves. Other than that, the diseases are viral/fungal in origin and if you buy from a reputable source they're not an issue. Growers in Florida need to look out for the Sigatoka fungal leaf-spot and leaf-streak diseases, as well as Race 1 of Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt of banana).

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Thanks for the info!

72-74 plants... in a 13x8 atrium? Not likely! nutz:

And I don't know of a gardener, locally, who even starts seeds themselves, much less interested in growing tropicals. Most gardeners around here, are quite happy with what the box stores sell as plants.

But, now I am armed with names of cultivars, so I can look for second or third choice of vendors!

Information is power! Watch me grow! Thanks! :clap:
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My nanner rose from the dead, so to speak and has easily been adding a leaf per week. I don't know if it was the cooler temps (probably low 60s overnight), too many roots, or it was tired and wanted a rest. :roll:

I've had good luck getting plants from GreenEarthPublishing. They are usually 2' tall with a nice root ball and 4-5 leaves.

Mike

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I hate to ever disagree with my dear old friend lorax ( fingers crossed behind back and grinning ear to ear) but I think I can add a few things for us temperate gardeners based on some success and experience.
I don't often use agristarts since the plants are tiny and not as likely to do well especially for begginers. There's many online sources and one reputable one I can vouch for is Going Bananas in Homestead florida.
https://www.going-bananas.com/
The people are knowledgeable and friendly either by phone or email and more importantly you'll get the variety you ordered which isn't always the case with some. I wont name names but I would never buy any plants from anywhere in Georgia that feature bikini clad women more than their plants ( there's better bikini sites I'm sure too if thats what you're after :oops: )

I can vouch for the fact that anything reputed to be hardy to -20 and edible is a farce and I wouldn't buy anything from that source.
One plant that I'd recommend to all begginers and is seeded but technichally edible is the Musa Velutina ( aka Dasycarpa). I had one flower for me last year in the ground on a first year plant with a two year old corm ( the underground rhizome portion). They produce nice pink colored fruit on a smallish plant and could even be hardy to zone 7 with protection in the right microclimate.
Here's a shot:
[img]https://i570.photobucket.com/albums/ss149/bob_075/DSCN0646.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i570.photobucket.com/albums/ss149/bob_075/DSCN0655.jpg[/img]

Another must have for the northern gardener wanting some edible fruit is the "Veinte Cohol" this one will flower in October from a 2' plant, planted in May ( bananas are measured by the height of the psuedostem... trunk portion ) Since the bananas take time to develope and ripen I think starting with a large plant in spring is best here in zone 6 and I'll be starting with a 4 or 5 ft plant this year so as to expect ripe fruit before it gets too cold out.
Here's a bunch from last year:
[img]https://i570.photobucket.com/albums/ss149/bob_075/DSCN0776.jpg[/img]
Last I'd reccomend the " Ice Cream" aka "Blue Java". This is a larger variety and on its own would grow to a 14 ft or so height and seems unmanageable for most but for the two years prior to flowering I simply whacked the plant down to size with a machete and it started growing again indoors in its pot. Yes you risk the chance of cutting a flower and killing the mother plant but I've known several gardeners in very cold climates who've had success with this reliable cultivar. Here's a few quick shots of this one and I'll end it before I get into a novel and myself in more trouble from one of my initial mentors down under in Ecuador ! :P
[img]https://i570.photobucket.com/albums/ss149/bob_075/DSCN0578.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i570.photobucket.com/albums/ss149/bob_075/DSCN0414.jpg[/img]

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