A lot of people in the present time have a very vague understanding of where common food items come from. This is understandable because most of us buy our food from grocery stores as well as other retailers, meaning that we are disconnected from the ultimate sources of our food. Thanks to this, it makes sense that a lot of people wouldn’t have this knowledge because it is either irrelevant or next-to-irrelevant to them. One excellent example of this phenomenon would be bananas. If asked, a lot of people would guess that bananas are grown on banana trees. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Yes, banana plants possess a fair amount of resemblance to trees. However, it is important to note that they are huge herbs that happen to look a lot like trees.
In any case, bananas are believed to have been domesticated in Southeast Asia. From there, they spread to other tropical parts of the world such as Indochina, South Asia, East Africa, and Oceania through maritime trade routes. By medieval times, bananas had shown up in the Middle East, with the result that they spread to North Africa and then the Muslim-controlled parts of Spain. Eventually, it would be Portuguese sailors who brought bananas from the Old World to the New World, though they did so from West Africa rather than the Iberian Peninsula. In the present time, the majority of bananas are Cavendish bananas, which happened because the previous mass-produced cultivar called Gros Michel was rendered non-viable by Panama disease. Besides this, it is interesting to note that plantains are also very popular, though the distinction between a banana and a plantain can be very blurry because the term can be used to describe any cultivar that tends to be cooked before consumption whether it is actually a true plantain or not.
Why Would You Want a Banana Plant?
People can want banana plants in their home for a wide range of reasons. For example, they might be looking for a new hobby, meaning that taking care of a banana plant can provide them with an interesting pastime. Similarly, it has been proven that the sight of houseplants provides people with benefits such as increased happiness, faster reaction times, and lower blood pressure, meaning that a banana plant can have very practical benefits as well. On top of this, some interested individuals might just be curious about what a house-grown banana tastes like.
How Can You Take Care of Your Banana Plant
Here are some suggestions for taking care of a banana plant:
- Temperature -Banana plants are tropical plants. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that they don’t do so well in either cold temperatures or even cool temperatures, meaning that interested individuals should keep their banana plants at a higher temperature than 12-15°C. For a lot of people in a lot of places, this means keeping their banana plants indoors rather than outdoors where they can maintain more control over the relevant factors. There are certain cultivars that are more cold-resistant than others, but even so, there is a limit to their cold resistance.
- Light and Water – Speaking of which, banana plants need both a lot of light and a lot of water. For the first, interested individuals should put them in a position in which they can get about six to eight hours of sunlight on a daily basis, though putting them in direct sunlight for such a prolonged period of time might be too much. As for the second, the soil should be constantly moist but never so much so that the banana plant is actually in standing water. Due to this, it is a good idea for interested individuals to check the soil on a regular basis because they must not let it dry out, which will have very negative consequences for their banana plants.
- Soil – Banana plants do their best when they have been planted in rich, well-draining soil. On top of this, consider giving them a layer of organic mulch on top, which can serve to retain the critical moisture while also providing an additional boost of nutrients.
- Protection – The leaves of banana plants can be very fragile. Thanks to that, interested individuals might need to give them some protection, which can mean covering them with either a blanket or some burlap. For that matter, it can be beneficial to put the banana plants next to either a fence or some other protective structure that can prevent them from feeling the full force of the wind. Something that can be surprisingly detrimental if the banana plants get exposed too long. Of course, a lot of these issues can be either mitigated or minimized by just bringing the banana plants indoors, which is particularly true in places that don’t have a tropical climate.
- Pests – On the one hand, banana plants aren’t one of those plants that are notorious for being fragile. On the other hand, there are pests and other potential problems that interested individuals might want to keep a watchful eye out for. For example, aphids, scale insects, and even red spider mites have been known to make their homes on banana plants, which is less than desirable for the banana plants as well as the owners of the banana plants. Similarly, if the banana plants are outdoors rather than indoors, they can face even more pests such as moths, snails, and even gophers. It is also possible for fungal infections to show up if interested individuals are not careful.
- Size – Banana plants can be huge. After all, there is a reason that people mistake banana plants for banana trees. As such, people growing banana plants in places with winters might struggle to bring the full-sized banana plants indoors from the outdoors. This is the reason that some sources suggest cutting back the leaves until they are just 6 to 8 inches long. Having said that, it might be easier to just choose a smaller cultivar that is a better fit for indoor spaces, particularly if people have either no or next-to-no interest in actually growing bananas on their banana plants.