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Old 09-29-2022, 03:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
Location: Tampa Bay Area, FL
Zone: 9b
Name: Giuseppe
Join Date: Aug 2022
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Default Dwarf Namwah growing very slowly

I'm looking for feedback as to what I'm doing wrong or for someone to tell me that I'm overthinking and have nothing to worry about. Fine with either one so long as it's honest. Anyway, here's the situation:

I got my dwarf Namwah on June 3rd and planted it in the ground in my zone 9b subtropical central Florida yard. Soil is sandy and well draining, but has a good amount of organic matter as well (at least my citrus trees seem to love it as they've grown exceptionally well). The spot it's planted gets full sun, 6-8 hours per day, with the sunlight first hitting the leaves around 12pm (unfortunately misses out on morning sun due to it's proximity to my fence). When I first planted it the P-stem was about 16 inches tall. After a couple of weeks in the ground, its first new leaf began to emerge. During the month of July, it put out a new leaf every 1-1.5 weeks. After about 4 leaves it abruptly stopped putting out any leaves. After almost 4 weeks with no new leaves, I became concerned something was wrong with the plant. The existing leaves browned at the edges and became crispy. I cut most of them off hoping that may stimulate the new leaf to emerge. Finally it did after almost 4.5 weeks with no new growth at all. To my surprise it actually put out two leaves in one week, with the second one already starting to emerge before the first one even finished unraveling. So I thought it was just a fluke, maybe the plant was growing its corm or roots for the last 4 weeks and now is ready to start upward growth again. Well after those 2 rapid leaves, another 3 weeks have gone by with no more new leaves. I can see the rolled up leaf inside the canal just sitting there, but it hasn't budged in the 3 weeks. From June 3rd to September 29th (17 weeks) in the subtropical heat, humidity, and precipitation (should be pretty optimal growing conditions), this thing has produced 6 leaves (average of one new leaf every 3 weeks) total and the P-stem has grown at most 2-3 inches in height. For a variety that banana enthusiasts tout as one of the most vigorous growers out there, I've been pretty underwhelmed. Is this typical of a young plant that's been in the ground for less than a year, and it will display this vigorous growth next Spring once it's fully established? Or is there a reason why I'm failing to grow a type of plant that grows huge mats on the sides of highways in my area without anyone attending to them?

Other variables: I have been feeding with a 0.5lb 2:1 ratio mix of 10-10-10 and 0-0-60 slow release granular fertilizer once every 4 weeks. I have top-dressed with compost twice. The surrounding soil is heavily mulched with pine bark nuggets (and the leaves of the plant itself that I pruned off).

Mistakes I have made: At first when old leaves would die, I would peel the whole leave sheath off down to the ground. I now realize I'm not supposed to do this because it compromises the integrity of the "trunk". I learned this after removing the first 2-3 leaves in this manner. I also may have been underwatering (one heavy watering on days it didn't rain) it for a period, considering it gets mostly intense afternoon sun and probably lost water to transpiration/evaporation even during our wet season. I now water it 2-3 times daily and mist the leaves when the afternoon sun is beating down on it. I highly doubt that it's even capable of being overwatered in the sandy well-draining soil.
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