The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Dwarf Cavendish banana cultivation

Dwarf Cavendish BananasWe've had such good luck with our Dwarf Meyer Lemon that we decided to try out a few other dwarf tropical fruits.  These are all house plants that live outside in pots during the summer and then come in to sit in a sunny window in the house through the cold months.

Mostly, we're trying out different types of dwarf citrus, but Mark talked me into taking on two Dwarf Cavendish Bananas as well.  The bananas are very pretty plants that many people would consider Repotting a Dwarf Cavendish Banana with pupworthwhile as simple ornamentals, but I'm bound and determined to raise them all the way to fruiting.  If you can pull it off, Dwarf Cavendish fruits are only a bit smaller than the bananas you buy in the store, and a single plant can produce up to 90 bananas!

We've only had our bananas for five months, but I can already tell that they are a very different beast than lemons.  While our lemon loves light and reaches toward the window, my bananas got sunburned when I let their beautiful leaves get too close to the glass during the summer.  Lemons can deal with some sub-freezing temperatures (although too cold weather will make them drop their fruits), but bananas are supposed to be sensitive to drafts and stop growing below 57 F.

Banana pupAlthough they seem to be more sensitive than lemons, bananas are quite easy to propagate since they aren't grafted.  From time to time, a plant will send out an offshoot ("pup") from its base, which can be teased away from the mother plant during repotting and will grow into a new banana.  You'll need to take advantage of these pups because your original banana will eventually produce one huge mass of fruits and then die.  The pups are your next generation, slated to produce bananas in one to two years under good conditions.

While repotting our two bananas (and separating out our first pup), I discovered that bananas have a very different root form from lemons.  The latter likes to spread its roots horizontally, but our banana had instead already sent big roots down to the bottom of the pot.  I'll have to remember to buy deep pots for our bananas rather than wide.

So far we're quite pleased with our bananas, but I reserve judgement until I have a fruit in my hand.  Until then, our Dwarf Cavendish Bananas are yet another Walden Effect experiment.

Save yourself time and let us do the experimenting for you.  Our homemade chicken waterer kits help you make a poop-free chicken waterer in less than an hour.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Just wondering if you ever got fruit. I got my first tree earlier this year. Pretty plant with a couple of pups starting now.. but I see no point if they never really bear fruit.
Comment by Kathy Thu Aug 9 11:57:54 2012
Kathy --- We ended up giving it away. I'd read it would take about two years to produce, but we just don't keep our living conditions at modern climate-controlled temperatures during the winter, so the leaves kept getting nipped and sending us back to square one.... I can't recommend it if you heat with wood, but for most people it might be worth a shot.
Comment by anna Thu Aug 9 16:11:08 2012

I gave my dad a 10 cm (3 ") tall banana plant in late 2004 - he planted it in ever larger pots over 5 years (final size ca. 24 L / 6 Gallon pot) and kept it in his living room (south facing room, with south and east facing windows, large mirrors on west & north facing walls). Average temperature during the heating season was pretty high: around 23°C (72°F). He ended up harvesting 2 banana hands (ca. 7 individual banana fruit - aka fingers) in early 2009. The only sucker (what you refer to as a 'pup') to emerge after the mother plant flowered just flowered over Christmas (2013). Under ideal tropical conditions (2500 mm (98") rain, evenly distributed over the year, average temps between 20-35°C (68-95°F), good soil fertility, lots of space to grow, etc.), a banana plant will produce massive bunches (upwards of 50 kg / 110 lbs) of fruit within as little as 9 months - but don't expect that under suboptimal conditions.

A side note: bananas are not trees in any way shape or form - they are herbs - no woody bits! :)

Comment by Alex Thu Jan 23 10:00:16 2014
If you want fruit, you better be giving the plant a lot of K. Something like 6-2-12 will do, or 10-5-20 even better. Monthly. A banana peel is 0-3-43, so you know it needs K.
Comment by Scott Pi Mon Sep 14 21:02:21 2015

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