The banana tree is not really a tree at all, its trunk (or ‘pseudostem’ as it is technically known) only lasts a few years before flowering and dying, allowing younger growth to take its place.
There is lots of confusion about banana names in the houseplant world, as many species look very similar to one another.
Often available to buy is the Dwarf Cavendish, which happens to be the same plant that produces most of the world’s edible bananas!
How to care for banana plants
It’s always worth remembering that a banana tree is a tropical plant. It needs plenty of sunlight, warmth and water in order to thrive.
Ideally position your banana plant close to a south facing window. You can move it outside in the summer, if you have a sunny balcony or terrace.
Just don’t forget to water it. In the summer this can be done daily.
Its tropical nature means the banana plant is very fast growing, and very quick to get a bit scruffy.
When you buy a new banana plant from a plant shop it will probably be pristine. This won’t last.
Over time your banana plant will start to look like it really is a tropical plant, with a lot of character.
Bananas are hungry plants, and whilst this banana is often called the Dwarf Cavendish, the reality is that it can still reach more than 2 meters in height.
All this growth means that your plant will benefit from a regular feeding throughout its growing season; ideally once a week and with plant food that has some nitrogen in it. This will encourage leaf growth.
Seaweed extract is a great organic option too.
How to propagate banana plants
As a banana plant matures, it starts to produce smaller baby plants or pups around the base; in the UK, it is unlikely to flower.
Wait until your banana pups show at least 20cm of stem above the ground, at which point they can be separated to make new banana plants.
Take a sharp knife - a bread knife works well - a 14-19cm pot for each pup and peat-free compost.
Remove the parent plant from the pot and shake away any loose compost, pups are attached to the main ‘trunk’ beneath the soil.
Make a cut close to the parent plant, ensuring that the pup still has some roots attached, and replant no deeper than before, then water well.
In May or June, pups will root in a few weeks.