There would be no straightforward guide on how to grow a banana tree from a cutting because the term banana tree is a misnomer. While they look like trees, a banana plant is a large herb with stems composed of leaf-petiole sheaths. Instead of growing in the UK from cuttings, a banana tree should arise from a corm or rhizome.
If you’re interested in growing banana trees, this article will clarify why people assume they grow from cuttings. Below are also some tips in propagating banana trees to help you familiarise yourself with techniques for productivity. And if you have a greenhouse, do you know that it’s also possible to grow bananas indoors?
Growing bananas in the greenhouse are sensible because it prevents a UK gardener’s limitations with his climate. It’s not surprising that the banana industry has looked into using this structure, considering it offers many advantages over traditional gardening in the UK. Still, it’s best to find the right way to propagate banana trees and prepare the polytunnel for success.
How To Grow A Banana Tree From A Cutting: The Common Mistake You Should Know
One reason people assume that it’s possible to grow a banana tree from a cutting is because of the nature it reproduces. In general, the banana tree is one of those plants that you don’t have to micromanage. Instead, it produces fruit once in 15 months after you start the saplings.
Banana trees are not trees, and they grow from either suckers or corms
After the harvest, new suckers will grow around the tree’s base, which is why you must cut down the tree for productivity. Keeping this cycle in mind, the UK gardeners propagate bananas either from the suckers that we previously mentioned or corms. If you’re familiar with various propagation methods, suckers are also interchangeable with offshoots and keikis.
On the other hand, corms are also called bullheads or bits to divide more if there are multiple buds. To do so, cut off the bottom half of the corm and leave the clear white tissue for trimming at about half an inch around the corm. Don’t also forget to remove the pseudostem 4 inches above the top if you’re using bullheads.
Much like dividing other plants from corms, you need those with a mature eye to guarantee that they will grow. Experienced UK gardeners also recommend selecting corms weighing 2.2 pounds as lighter ones have a lower chance of establishment. You can then submerge the corms in water, reaching 122 to 126°F for 15 minutes before placing them in a bag at room temperature to encourage rooting.
Propagating Bananas From Division
Why do farmers propagate bananas vegetatively instead of sexually? While bananas rely on division and don’t use cuttings, it’s nearly impossible to grow them from seeds because most varieties are seedless. Therefore, you’ll depend on dividing suckers or corms, as mentioned previously.
You must know these terminologies in propagating bananas as different pieces of literature use them interchangeably. You might even come across the terms buttons, which are the tiny suckers or pups. You want to use the large ones that reach around 3 feet when the season is warm for planting.
Additionally, it’s worth noting never to take pups unless there are at least three banana plants that can anchor a clump. Chacking for other banana plants is essential because you aim to include some roots from the mother plant. Lastly, leave no leaves on the pup before planting it, as you would when preparing a cutting.
Propagating Bananas From Tissue Culture
Besides division, you might be more interested in growing banana trees from tissue culture. As long as you have the materials, you can benefit from this method since it will guarantee a lower risk of diseases and pests. The drawback here would be the costs you need for propagation and being grown in the lab; they’ll be more sensitive for transplanting.
Sensitivity is essential because lab-grown banana plants need a long time to acclimate before transplanting outdoors. However, a polytunnel might be a helpful solution since these plants are at a higher risk of environmental stress.
Another method of growing banana trees is a mini-setting. Quite similar to division, you will use the corm and cut a piece for growing. This corm should create many seedlings, making it easy to have a lot of banana trees consistently.
Typically, one corm can provide 40 mini-sets, so this should give you an idea of how productive this propagation method is. Those who are plan to join the banana industry could consider mini-setting to ensure having a high yield without delays.
Bananas are sustainable and beginner-friendly, making them a fantastic addition to your UK garden or a potential business venture. However, don’t get confused and try to grow a banana tree from a cutting. Banana trees are not trees, and their reproduction method is what made people assume that you can grow them from cuttings.
Instead, bananas grow from either suckers or corms by division, but you can also use tissue propagation or mini-setting. You’ll divide corms or treat a sucker as you would a cutting to propagate a banana tree. But if you want a quick production of bananas, you can use a corm and produce up to 40 mini-setts.