Encyclopedia of Houseplants

How to Grow and Care for a Banana Plant

updated Jun 5, 2020
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Here’s a fun fact: People call them trees, but bananas (Musa) actually grow from gigantic bulbs, just like daffodils or tulips. What looks like a trunk is really a pseudo trunk made up of leaf petioles (stalks) stacked tightly together, according to Logee’s Greenhouse

Another fun fact: Dwarf bananas make beautiful ornamental houseplants. Like other tropical plants, they bring lush greenery to your space and generally add a year-round air of tropical cheer—provided you keep them growing happily, of course. Here’s how to do it right.

How to Grow a Banana Plant

Banana plants are frequently grown outdoors in the summer. At the end of the growing season, gardeners cut back the foliage, dig up the bulbs, and store them in a cool, dry spot in the basement or garage for the winter—much like they do with dahlias and elephant ears. But if you have an abundance of sunlight, it’s also possible to grow an ornamental banana indoors year-round.

Potting a banana plant

As you would with other tropical houseplants, plant your banana plant in porous, well-draining soil. You can begin with a bulb or a started plant. Select at pot with a drainage hole in the bottom to prevent the bulb from rotting in mucky soil.

Light and location for your banana plant

Banana plants need plenty of bright light. Plant delivery service Bloomscape recommends a south-facing window and a minimum of 4-6 hours of full sunlight per day. You can also keep them outdoors during summer.

Credit: Sonja Lekovic/Stocksy

How to water your banana plant

Water banana plants thoroughly until water runs out the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Only water when the soil is dry to the touch (feel it an inch or two down) as bananas are prone to root rot.

How much humidity to give your banana plant

Banana plants love humidity, and you may need to go the extra mile to keep their leaves from getting brown, crispy tips, especially in winter. You can try grouping banana plants together with other humidity-loving tropicals to concentrate the humidity in the air as the plants transpire water through their leaves.

Another option is to layer a saucer or shallow tray with pebbles, fill the tray with water to just below the top of the pebbles, and then set your plant pot on top of the saucer. As the water evaporates, it will create a cozy pocket of humidity around your banana plant.

What temperature do banana plants like?

Banana plants are fast growers and fertilizer can help keep them stay lush and green. Feed them monthly with a diluted liquid fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer). Gardening blog Epic Gardening recommends either a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) or one that is high in phosphorus (such as 10-8-10).

Are banana plants toxic?

Good news: Banana plants are nontoxic to pets and humans, according to Bloomscape. Happy planting!