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filmorer 08-01-2009 08:21 PM

Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Hello all. New to growing bananas but receptive to all opinions and knowledge. I got this ice cream nana that initially was growing like gangbusters until the beginning of July. It had this funky-looking leaf that appeared real dark around part of it and it wouldn't unfurl. So I wait and wait and wait and it still wouldn't unfurl like the previous leafs had. So I get tired of waitin and lookin at it and out comes the scissors. I cut it back a little thinking that the new leaf might emerge somehow. Nothin. The plant is not growin... no new cigar leafs (or whatever the term is for the new leafs); it's completely stagnant!!! BUT I do have a pup that recently sprouted right next to it and it's startin to take off. I'm lost....

Here's what I have done...

The banana stays in shade for the better part of the day except for the mornings. I have also given it Muriate of potash recently and a few days later Espoma "Plant-tone". The Espoma (5-3-3) contains the esssential 15 nutrients; I was thinking this might offset whatever calcium and boron deficiencies if that was the problem I dep water every other day aboot 4 hrs for 8 gallons total.... Nothin!!! But the pup is doing pretty well.

I apologize if this had already been discussed elsewhere; I did search thru many of the threads and couldn't find an exact answer. Suggestions? Am I doing somethin' wrong? I can submit pics if need be. How much does the heat factor into this. This has been the hottest July on record :coldbanana: Avg temp (highs and lows) 98 degrees. Talk to me. Thx in advance.


filmorer 08-01-2009 08:25 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Forgot to mention that both plants are in the ground. Didn't do the container thing... it's PHX, we don't have winters only hot and hotter!!!!

Eric 08-01-2009 09:28 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
You are in the right place for this topic. And photos would be very helpful, especially close-ups of the leaves & the stem.
1. Do Not Panic.
2. If you have a healthy pup that is taking off, the mother plant will slow down.
3. Feel the base of the mother plant to see if there are any very soft places on it. If there are, you may have corm-rot. If so, you'll have to cut the soft, rotten parts off.
4. Ice-Cream bananas do Not like shade - They need full sun to be healthy.
5. Ice-Cream bananas do need lots of water & spraying the leaves is not a bad idea. Arizona is not very humid so spraying with water will help.
6. Please post photos as this will help me & other members to make better decisions.
7. Get opinions from more than 1 member when making important decisions, whenever possible.

This is how 2 of my many Ice-Creams look after a non-stop week of 100-105 degrees F:

These grow in full-day sun with regular watering & feeding every 2-3 weeks.
They are also grown in the ground.
BTW, you're lucky - Ice-Creams Luv "Hot".
Other members: would much appreciate more views on this matter. Thanx :).

filmorer 08-01-2009 09:34 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Thanks Eric for the info. I'll take pics tom and submit. As far as the full sun, does that apply to new plants? My ice cream has been in the ground since mid-April and at the time it was only 1-1.5' tall.

Eric 08-01-2009 10:12 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)

Originally Posted by filmorer (Post 87893)
Thanks Eric for the info. I'll take pics tom and submit. As far as the full sun, does that apply to new plants? My ice cream has been in the ground since mid-April and at the time it was only 1-1.5' tall.

Good call on pics :). Ice Creams should be in full sun from the day they're planted. For a small plant like yours, if you're wanting to transplant it to a sunny location, just be sure & dig deep (a foot or so) down to get as much root as possible - you can always fill in the hole, later. But yes, I put pups as small as 3-4" tall out in full sun and I've never lost one in the past 3 years now.
BTW, be sure & fill the new hole with water before putting the plant into it. That way the water doesn't have to take time soaking down to get to the roots.
Will study the pics once you post them. PM me to let me know where they are. Also, I've invited Bob to join in the thread. He, too, has very good luck with Ice Creams & can offer second opinions.
Just don't panic, bananas are a bit more difficult to kill than you might think.

Bob 08-02-2009 06:15 AM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Rob , your constant hight temps could have something to do with it. Also I'm not sure 5-8 gallons of water your applying is all getting to the plant. The few times I've watered this year I leave the hose at base of plant and walk away for a few minutes. I also use a ring of landscape edging or other plastic in a large ring around the base of plants. From reading here I've come to find that high nitrogen fertilizers can potentially over time acidify your soil and create a situation where the plant isn't taking up other necesary nutrients. This has proved true in my garden where I've had better growth this year using less 5-2-6 than a lot of 5-1-1 or 12-0-0 which I used to use.
Since the pup is growing so well you may not have a problem at all so don't panic just yet. Pics would help. Keep us posted.

Forgot to add, what's your soil like? If you have a local cooperative extension service these guys can be great. Even if you're a schmoe from New Jersey trying to grow bananas if they have time, in my case(it's a mile up the road) the guy was kind of fascinated knew my neighborhood and soil type, and was very helpful. Never overlook free or at least inexpensive proffesional help.

Eric 08-02-2009 07:48 AM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
I would definitely listen to Bob's advice. He's had a lot of experience with smaller plants.

Bob, he's growing it in the shade and Blue Javas Luv full sun. What do you think about the idea of transplanting it into a sunny location, at this time?

Bob 08-02-2009 07:55 AM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
I don't know about moving it since I don't really know that high temp climate. Hopefully some of the hot weather growers will see this and help.

filmorer 08-02-2009 10:07 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Finally got the pics. The first one is a close up of the pup growing next to the mother plant. Some of the pup's leaves look a little gnarly and you can see how the latest leaf appears "burnt" in the middle. The stems at the bottom of the pic we're from two leafs off the mother that I cut back.

Ok this one show my current setup. What I'm tryin to do here is let the plant get morning sun from 6-11 and at the same time it's protected from the midday and afternoon sun before it sets. At first, it seemed like it was working pretty well until the beginning of this month.

Next up is a picture of the dirt mound I have around the banana. Not sure if it's too big, if it should be mulched more. What I have around it is primarily topsoil mixed in with steer compost and mulch. The drip emitter allows for 2 gal/hr.

Lastly, this is a close up of one of the mother's leaves. I think it looks decent for the most part but you can see it looks krusty on the fringes. Not sure if this has to do primarily w/the heat. Let me know what you guys think and thanks again.

Bananaman88 08-03-2009 06:26 AM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Don't underestimate the amount of reflected heat your plants are getting from that wall during the summer. That could be contributing to the problem. On the up side, that same wall will also retain the sun's warmth and make a nice little microclimate for your banana this winter!

Eric 08-03-2009 08:31 AM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Brent's right about the wall facilitating leaf-burn. Ya might want to find a way to darken that section of the wall to prevent that. The leaves folding, the way they are, also traps heat & increases leaf burn.
Also in the news, had a long talk with the gardener this morning. He thinks it might be a calcium deficiency, if not just simple leaf burn. He treated mine by adding calcium and spraying the leaves with water daily to "cool" them down.
All in all, if the measures you decide on seem ineffective, I'd say Bob's probably right: Call a local Cooperative Extension Service - They can be Very friendly & helpful.
Will check into this more.

filmorer 08-05-2009 12:49 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Not sure if I did the right thing but I cut her down!!!

Started snooping around some of the leaves and stalks and noticed some mushy places that were brown and slimy. Take a look at the center of the stalk (it's turned a little brown from when I cut it down yesterday; the while think was green except the center part)

If you look real close at the center of the stalk, you'll see a dark brown spot. I believe this was going to be a part of the new leaf that was going to emerge. 3 ?s: 1)Did I do the right thing by cutting it down and will this help the plant grow back? 2)What causes this? About a month ago, I had a leaf that wouldn't unfurl and so waited and waited and it didn't do anything. I cut it back a little and apparently, it rotted and died which probly explains the dead center part and 3)What causes the pup's leaves to look the way they do?

Eric 08-05-2009 01:02 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
If you found mushy spots and you want to save that pup, cut that main stem all the way down to the ground. Make sure there are no more mushy spots on the corm & then cover it with dirt. I've had this happen before. There is about zero chance of the main plant growing back & leaving it up without dirt over it is inviting new infections for the pup.
If it were mine, that's just what I'd be doing right now.

sunfish 08-05-2009 05:28 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
I am no expert that is for sure. But looking at the picture of your plant the first thing I notice the plant looks a little deep. I would pull some of the dirt from around the plant and use it to make a basin. I would also dig down and check to see how wet the soil is. Maybe the water is sitting in the bottom of the hole and not draining . If it is rotting it has to be from to much moisture. Sometimes with a drip system the water goes straight down and it can be dry on the top and wet down below.

adrift 08-06-2009 10:14 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
My Ice Cream is in full Florida sun all day, and loves it. High temps have been 95-102 degrees in the shade for months now. But note, the leaves are in the sun. The roots are in the shade of the leaf canopy and 3" of pine bark mulch. I'm guessing your soil is going to be very warm.

1. The darker green lower leaves but light green upper leaves indicate a lack of iron and/or calcium (not nitrogen).

2. The deformity of the new leaves tends to indicate that the deficiency is calcium more so than iron.

for 1 & 2 -- That could be because your soil is lacking in those nutrients, or it could be related to lack of water or alternating dry then wet, or it could be pH.

3. I've seen that wet-and-brown patch on newly emerging leaves when either (a) soil was very acidic or (b) after a heavy application of ammonia based nitrogen (partially composted manure). Did you apply a bucket of manure to try to green up the pale leaves?

4. You say that you applied muriate of potash. That is potassium chloride. Chlorine is hard on plants and the microorganisms in your soil. That may be contributing to the burning. You need a lot of water to keep that flushing through.

* That soil looks rather rocky and sandy. Can you stir a cubic foot or two of (canadian sphagnum) peat or coco fiber into the top 3 to 6 inches to aid water retention and get some organic stuff in there?

* Can you get some wood chip mulch (or similar that is available locally) to shade the soil?

* Unless you are making changes, you probably only need to check the pH every 3 to 5 years, but you probably should check it in several places around your property. With all that sand and rock, I bet you don't have the buffering that a bunch of organic river bottom "muck" has and your pH could be way off the charts. Either way.

Is there is a mom-and-pop nursery nearby? They may be able to check the pH of your soil for you free or cheap. (I've never seen a big box place do that.) Or, a county extension office or a nearby state university may offer that. Or check with the local high school science department. (I'm sure they could do it, but they may not know how to do it.)

Or, if none of those work, quite a few of us here can do it, either because we do TC, hydroponics, or brewing, or are heavy duty plant geeks, and have pH meters. If you send one of us a few baggies of soil...

bepah 08-06-2009 10:48 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
How long is the drip emitter on each day? In PHX, 2 gallons/hr may require it runs 5 hrs/day with all of the heat you are getting. I would guess that the ground is 120 degrees at midday and most of the water is evaporating out before it gets to the roots.

filmorer 08-06-2009 11:11 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Thx for the suggestions. You're the 2nd person whos uggested the local service. I'll have to look into it. In regards to the calcium deficiency, what would you recommend?

filmorer 08-06-2009 11:15 PM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
4-5 hrs every other day. I've read that during the summer, you're hard-pressed to overwater/overfertilize a banana. Then some webistes say the exact opposite. i don't know.

island cassie 08-07-2009 12:34 AM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)
Hey filmorer - to cool the area and increase humidity - have you thought of hanging sacking/fabric on the wall with a very slow trickle of water running down it? Combined with your shade cover it might make a big difference until the plant is established. In the middle east (baking hot and bone dry - sound familiar?) they did it all the time - not the prettiest thing but really works. You can adjust the trickle to control the amount of water that reaches the soil and is a lot easier than spraying and avoids leaf burn in the sun.

adrift 08-07-2009 08:48 AM

Re: Help! B.I.D. (Banana in Distress)

Originally Posted by filmorer (Post 89055)
Thx for the suggestions. You're the 2nd person whos uggested the local service. I'll have to look into it.

This sort of thing is the extension office's job so it likely should be your first choice. Not only should they be able to check a soil sample for pH for free or maybe $1.00, but they can discuss what is in the local soil from bugs to nutrients.

But not having walked a mile in your shoes I don't want to make assumptions so I offer many (possibly confusing) options. Maybe the nearest office is 90 miles away, or their working hours are your working hours, etc. So maybe mailing a soil sample off to a university works best for you. However, your LAST worry is whether they will think you are crazy for wanting to grow a banana. We've got other members in AZ & NV, and up in Canada, London, Europe. If someone tells you that you can't grow anything but cactus where you are, then they don't really need any of the fruit you produce, right?


Originally Posted by filmorer (Post 89055)
In regards to the calcium deficiency, what would you recommend?

Gotta know that pH first. You may have calcium in the soil, but the plants can't take it up because of the pH. If the pH isn't right, you'll be fighting this forever.

If you have acidic soil then it is easy. Add some form of lime. Look for calcitic lime or dolomitic lime (dolomite), "lawn lime", "agricultural lime", "garden lime", calcium carbonate, etc. Under one name or another, these should be available at the "big box" shops as well as family nursery places. Also, hardwood ash, bone meal, crushed marble, crushed oyster shell, are good. If you only need a small amount and you have no nursery supply nearby then crushed "blackboard chalk" or "sidewalk chalk" will work. But my worry is that your desert soil is actually alkaline and this cure will be worse than the disease.

If your soil pH is about where you need it, then gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate) will add the calcium you need without making any big pH changes.

If your soil is alkaline, and I suspect that it might be, you will need to drop the pH. You can add sulfur which is, by itself, neutral but soil microbes will slowly turn this into sulfuric acid. You will need to keep the soil moist and warm (second part should be easy for you) so the "bugs" can work. Also, ground pine bark, sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, cottonseed meal, leaf mold, and peat moss will bring the pH down for you, but only a little bit at a time. You might also look for fertilizer for "acid loving plants", AKA "azalea food" or "blueberry fertilizer." "Hollytone" and "Miracid" are some product names.

Whatever you add, stir it in deep, don't just sprinkle it on top. And it will take a while to work. Be patient.

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