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Akula 08-10-2018 03:13 PM

2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
This is my patch in Pensacola, Florida which was originally planted in March of 2017. The original plants consisted of three ice cream (blue java) and two raja puri ordered from an online nursery. The original plants died in the winter of 2017-2018 or showed slow/stunted growth in Spring 2018 and were removed to make way for the first generation of pups which emerged in July of 2017.

My area experienced overnight lows below freezing on three occasions during the past winter with an extreme low of 21F which persisted until about noon on the following i.e. about 18 hours below freezing. My plants were protected during the winter which is documented elsewhere on the site.

One of my RPs is now close to 13' and has been tentatively identified as a tall Orinoco. Confirmation by flower and fruit is expected this year.

My other RPs pups appear to be a slow growing dwarf of some type which suffer from curved, hooked leaves most likely due to excessive rainfall and light direction. The planting location of these plants is primarily West facing due light being blocked from the East by a fence and foliage so the plants lean to the West causing cigar leaf bending in that direction. Confirmation by flower is expected this year with luck. These pups were dry root stored in the garage for about three months during the winter and replanted into the patch at the end of February 2018.

My three Ice Cream bananas face South and receive more than six hours of direct sun each day both summer and winter. Mid-summer sun is blocked after about 7 pm due to tall foliage on the West side.

Average rainfall in my area is 68 inches per year with the majority of rain between April and September. Winter is the "dry season". My location is rather high for Florida at about 50' above sea level, drains quickly, and is not far from Escambia Bay.

I fertilize monthly alternating between with potassium sulfate and urea applied separately and a complex palm fertilizer containing micro nutrients. The plants are watered by hose directly during dry stretches when soil is determined to be dry by sticking a finger in the ground. The soil in the patch was prepped for the plants by digging up the area to a depth of 4' and mixing the natural soil with composted cow manure (about 2,000+ lbs). All competing roots were removed in the areas of the patch. The patch is continuously mulched during the growing season with St. Augustine grass clippings from the yard.

At the time of this post my ice cream bananas are approximately 13' of pstem, my "orinoco" is 13' of pstem, and my rp's are about 6' of pstem. All are July 2017 pups.

Hoping to get a couple flowers and maybe eat some bananas this year!!

Bonus info!!!

I made a side trip to visit Don at Going Bananas prior to picking some friends up at the Miami Airport August 5. My sister who lives in West Palm Beach and I arrived about 30 minutes prior to closing time due to an error in my judgment in the amount of time necessary to get to Homestead from WP and I-95 traffic. Uhhgg! Even though we were 30 minutes from closing, Don was super polite, friendly, and gave us a nice tour of his beautiful gardens with enthusiasm. It was amazing! I love how Going Bananas is really more like a garden than a farm. Very lovely grassy paths between the rows of bananas, numerous tropical flowers and fruits, and just really thoughtful landscaping that appeals to the eye while allowing for operations, maintenance, etc. I did mention that I found out about his nursery from which might explain his enthusiasm or maybe it was my supermodel sister who accompanied me but even though I arrived late and could only spend a brief amount of time I really feel like he gave us a great tour and was really enthusiastic about tropicals, bananas and what he and his family have built in Homestead. A real gem!

I was embarrassed that my only banana plant purchase to date was from another company and since I was flying on to DC after WP could not take any plants back to Pensacola on this trip. Next time I will drive down and get a few plants from Don.

Photos of my patch and plants as of August 10, 2018:

General view of the patch from my back patio. Along the back fence left to right are the ice creams with the big orinoco the last big one in the corner when going left to right (fourth grouping from the left) The four dwarfs (RPs???) are along the right side fence from the corner with one ice cream mixed in near the corner. Yeah, yeah I know its just a big wall of green!!! Haha.

Possible pre-flag on 13' Orinoco??? The five cigar leaves before this one were extremely tight with a hook on the end. This one is a bit loose and not curved:

Should be a flower soon!!! Ice Cream on far left edge has a nice crown:

Bonus pic!!! Me with Don at Going Bananas:

37.667910 08-10-2018 09:25 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Awesome patch!

HMelendez 08-11-2018 04:13 AM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Congrats Akula!.....

Awesome job!......Very beautiful Nana patch!.....I'm glad that you had an awesome time at Going Bananas!.....Don and Katie are very good people!....


Akula 08-20-2018 06:17 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Sword sucker or Spear Sucker? This little guy is about a month old. Pretty sure its a sword sucker and not water sucker. The base is really thick compared to the older pup to its right which is about two months old.

The original plant was purchased as a Raja Puri but Gabe has tentatively identified as an Orinoco. Original plant in the background is now 13' and still waiting for a bloom.

imclumbi 08-20-2018 07:08 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Great looking banana patch!! Noice pic with Don. We were at his place about a month ago!

Akula 09-05-2018 06:29 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Got some flags!!! Yeah!! First ones!!!

Just made it through tropical storm Gordon and found two pre-flags or flags in my banana patch this afternoon. Both namawas are approximatley 13.5' tall and about 34 inches in circumference.

Photo below shows my biggest namwa with the short pre-flag sticking straight up (about 3/4 the size of the previous leaf) and the flag leaf just to the right. Its a bit beaten up from the storm but is light green.

This photo is taken from inside/under the canopy showing the flag leaf with very red rib.

This is a photo of the flag leaf on my second namwa which grows immediately to the right of the prior namwa. Photo taken from under the canopy.

mackmccaleb 09-05-2018 08:02 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Nice job man! Your plantings are almost exactly a year ahead of mine, and since you're in pcola it's like a glimpse into the future for me! It's got to be super exciting for them to be ready to flower, after waiting so long. Also, to find out for sure what varieties you have. It is definitely inspiring to see a fellow grower in my zone having success. Hit me up if you ever get over to Alabama, I'd be happy to share pups.

crazy banana 09-06-2018 12:02 AM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Looks great. Congratulations on your flag leaves. Hopefully no freezing temperatures this winter for you being able to enjoy some nice fruits.

slp0100 09-06-2018 07:43 AM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Looks great... Do you keep the pool heated to help create micro-climate.

Akula 09-06-2018 11:38 AM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Thanks everybody!

Its really satisfying to achieve forward progress on development of my banana patch. Getting a flower and seeing a green banana bunch hanging from the plant will be awesome. Plus confirmed ID over the next couple months.

I hope with some of the tricks (extra K, bunch pruning, bell pruning, bagging, etc.) I have learned from the more experienced members combined with some old fashioned luck will result in some mature fruit. Now the game is afoot and the clock is ticking! Very exciting!

MackMc thank you for the pup trading and visit offer!

Slp0100, I have a heater on my pool but I don't use it in the heart of winter. I use it on the shoulders (Oct, Nov & March, April) to top the temp up. However the pool probably does help the bananas during the extreme low temps a bit as it doesn't freeze.

slp0100 09-06-2018 01:40 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Thank you for the update...trying to push the zone in 8b. I have a pond to the south, beach house to the north, ocean 700 ft to the east. Hoping to have things survive unprotected.

Akula 09-10-2018 12:12 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
I spotted my third namwa pre-flag/flag this morning!

This plant was cutback after the winter due to some pstem rot and was a slow grower. It put out two rabbit ear looking leaves initially and struggled for about a month. I checked it closer and found some internal rot in a middle layer of the pstem (outside two-three layers were okay and core two-three layers were okay too). I peeled the pstem back like an onion in order to remove the rotted layer. It looked pretty odd for a month or two. My efforts were rewarded with "Rabbit Ears" producing a pre-flag/flag leaf.

Due to the hacking and peeling in early Spring the plant is much shorter (11') and skinnier (24" circumference) than my other two flowering Namwas which are about 13.5' and 34".

"Rabbit Ears" early Spring

Peeled like an onion


imclumbi 09-10-2018 05:34 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Nice! Congrats!!

Akula 09-15-2018 05:06 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Namwa flowers are developing nicely! Two flowers have emerged and now waiting for the petals to open. A third flower is in the process of emerging.

Photo below is flower on my monster namwa measuring 13.5' with 34" circumference and 22" long flower. The photo shows a 2 liter coke bottle alongside the flower as a size reference. Its big!

This following is a photo of my other namwa that was the first to emerge. The flower is a bit smaller at about 18" long.

I spy...

imclumbi 09-15-2018 06:59 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Beautiful! Monsters!!

Akula 09-17-2018 10:32 AM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida

beam2050 09-17-2018 11:48 AM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
fantastic, lookin good keep em rollin.

Akula 09-17-2018 12:26 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Thanks Beam!

Is a "hand" created each time the flower petal lifts? One hand per flower petal? First one contains about fourteen fingers. Is that pretty good?

My fourteen foot raja puri (most likely orinoco) threw out a flower today. Total of four flowers in my patch now.

edwmax 09-17-2018 12:42 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
Y es ... congratulations!

mackmccaleb 09-17-2018 06:58 PM

Re: 2018 Banana Patch: Pensacola, Florida
It's been plenty hot lately. Heat advisory a few days in a row now. Your banana's proximity to the pool is probably creating a nice microclimate. I'm rooting for you man, if you can get a ripe banana, it gives me a lot more confidence in my quest to taste my own homegrown. Keep updating, I'll keep checking in

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