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Main Banana Discussion This is where we discuss our banana collections; tips on growing bananas, tips on harvesting bananas, sharing our banana photos and stories.

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Old 08-27-2020, 08:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Letting Bananas Grow into Stand

I have been conflicted about information I have heard about maintaining banana mats. I have read you should be removing pups and not letting them compete with the mother plant.

I planted a Nam Wah in May that was about 5’ tall. It has since turned into one 9’ mother plant, 7’ pup, 5’ pup, and two other small swords. I hate digging into the root ball of my lovely thriving plant. I read that removing pups will increase yields and speed up fruiting. Then I see large mats allowed to grow into little groves that seem to have a perpetual yield of fruit. I like the idea of letting the mat become large and vigorous. Seems like the more stems (to the extent I can physically house them) gives the corm more energy to withstand adverse conditions. I keep them well fed and watered. I have deep mulch around them and also have a large mouldering compost pile (36” diameter pipe stood on end with lid that I fill with kitchen waste and compostables) immediately adjacent to the corm.

Just wanted to see what people on this forum thought. I think I will most likely leave them to grow into a small stand with at least 2-3 mature stems.

Thanks !

Last edited by Graycat : 08-27-2020 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 08-28-2020, 02:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letting Bananas Grow into Stand

On the end it's all up to what you like. I personally like bigger clumps and I believe that for hobby growers in marginate areas they are much better solution.
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Old 08-28-2020, 12:09 PM   #3 (permalink)

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Default Re: Letting Bananas Grow into Stand

The concept of heavy sucker pruning is only normally relevant to commercial production. For a home gardener, you can do whatever you want, and all things being equal (provided ample fertilizer and water are given), I would recommend to prune less (allow more sucker to develop), so that you have more frequent harvests. The size of each bunch may be somewhat smaller than if you had pruned heavily, but your total yield of fruit over time is likely to be more. Not all varieties behave like the typical commercial ones do anyway, some barely require any pruning ever, and some you may want to do it heavily a few times a year just to keep it manageable.

The only main thing to consider is what is around the plant that an expanding mat may interfere with, and then prune according to your situation.
Growing bananas in Colorado, Hawaii and Washington since 2004.
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Old 08-28-2020, 03:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letting Bananas Grow into Stand

Excellent Gabe!!!! .... As a hobby grower, most of us do not have the need warm weather & time to produce the big heavy bunches with large banana fingers even with the careful punning and management like the commercial banana plantations. .... So by allowing the mats to expand (not removing pups) helps to insure a few of the corms will survive the winter & may be a couple of those will produce fruit in the following summer. .... I have one nana variety that was nearly wiped out by a hard freeze. One lone rhiome (not a corm) put a sprout up the following summer. It has taken 3 years for the plant to finally start going and pupping. So my FhIA-18 is recovering.
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Old 08-28-2020, 04:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letting Bananas Grow into Stand

I always wondered the truth behind this. As in the wild no one is pruning the mats and they always fruit. I have noticed with dwarf varieties that the less pups more often they fruit for me.
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Old 08-29-2020, 07:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letting Bananas Grow into Stand

I saw a video of a hobby grower in Puerto Rico and gave tons of advice on OPs concern of bigger yields and not wanting to dig into the root ball.

He does not dig the pups out, he leaves pups on the mother plant but he will regularly cut the pups off at the stem with a knife. The pups are still alive and will grow back.
He explains this is the best way to direct energy to the mother plant as it will not damage the root system in any way.
Then once the plant reaches full maturity and produces fruit he allows the pups to grow as normal and if desired can be dug out as that will be the best time to do so.

I'm trying this myself with my Dwarf Cavendish as it had a huge pup competing with the mother plant, I cut it off at the base of the stem with a knife as the guy suggested. The pup of course continued to grow back immediately but at a much slower rate and the mother plant is now growing much faster. So I have the best of both worlds now since I also want to grow a mat as well.
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