You can grow top quality bananas at home in most of Southern California (Sunset Magazine zones 18 – 24). It’s a matter of selecting the correct variety, providing the banana’s special fertilizer needs and performing a few thinning operations. Your reward will be beautiful, tropical foliage and annually about 40 lbs per bunch of unusual, vine ripened fruit.
- Most banana plants fruit 18 months from first planting and every year thereafter. They are self-fruitful.
- Dwarf types average 7’tall, midsize 12’, tall types 24’
- Dwarf types, which can be container grown indoors are: Raja Puri, Cavendish, Dwarf Orinoco and Dwarf Jamaican Red.
- Cold tolerant types include: Manzano, Cardaba, Raja Puri, Dwarf Orinoco, Monthan, Hua moa, Gold Finger (FHIA13), Sweet Heart and Dwarf Brazilian
- Cold sensitive types include: Cavendish, Williams, Iholena, Lacatan, Dwarf Jamaican Red, Mysore, and Enano gigante.
- Bananas are free of pest and disease problems in California.
- Bananas are decorative and distinctive; they require only 4 square meters of growing area and thrive when planted next to south facing buildings (their roots are noninvasive).
- Locate in full sun; choose a wind-protected site.
- Incorporate an abundance of planting mix or compost.
- Water weekly; they are shallow rooted and benefit from a deep (3”-6”) layer of organic mulch.
- Use chicken manure plus a source of potash such as Sul-Po-Mag (K-Mag) or sulfate of potash. Or apply 6 lbs. Per year of (10-5-40 or similar) using three split applications.
- During the first season cut out all “pups”. Thereafter, each year leave the first two pups appearing in spring; and remove all others.
- Cover the fruit with a large light blue plastic bag open at the bottom.
- Cut off the flower bud when emerging fruit stop hanging on while leaving approximately a 6” long stub at the base.
- After the harvest, cut the stalk off at ground level. A machete works well for this. You can also use a spade to cut the base at ground level. Remember to peel away any dry tissue to facilitate the use of the spade.
- Prop the heavy bunches with two poles, or tie it to an adjacent building.