Continued from page 1
Banana Plant Growth
Because of its rapid growth, banana plant is one that you almost can sit back and watch grow. When banana plant is about three-quarters grown, it produces several suckers at its base. Remove all of these, save one, by trimming them at ground level with a sharp knife. The saved shoot is called a follower. It will become your banana plant’s main stem after mother plant fruits.
The “trunk” of banana plant is actually a densely packed group of concentric leaves, a pseudostem. After banana plant has grown about thirty leaves, fruit stem shoots through them from rhizome and emerges as a terminal inflorescence (a group of flowers at tip of stem). The fruit stem matures three to four months after its emergence. Flower bracts soon cover stem and then roll back almost daily, each exposing a “hand” of bananas. At beginning of their development, little hands grow downward, but as they grow, they turn their fingers towards sun and appear to be growing upside down. This phenomenon is called “negative geotropism”.
A banana bunch is ready to cut when fruit is round and plump with no obvious ribs. At this point, flower bracts will be very dry and easily break off from fruit tip. To harvest bananas, stalk of bunch should be cut well above top hand of bananas.
Bananas ripen by self-producing heat and ethylene gas. To maximize your banana harvest, pick individual green hands to ripen them for use. Seal hand in a plastic bag with another ripening banana or a fruit like a red apple. The hand makes use of gas produced by ripening fruit and speeds up process. Place bag in a cool dark place, like a cupboard (a refrigerator is too cold!). After 24 to 48 hours, remove ripening fruit. The hand of bananas should be able to finish ripening process on its own.
After harvest, cut mother plant down to ground level. The “follower” will take her place for next year's banana growing!
Linda is an author of Gardening Tips Tricks and Howto's of Gardening Guides and the Lawn Care section of the Lawnmower Guide.