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Banana Plant Soil, Additives, and Fertilizer This forum is an area where you may discuss the soil to grow banana plants in, as well as soil additives such as teas, composts, manures, fertilizers and related topics.


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Old 06-14-2015, 11:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default pH

Sorry for the dumb question, but how do you measure and adjust the soil pH to be the best for bananas? Would adding vinegar to the water help?
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Old 06-14-2015, 12:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

I wouldn't use vinegar. It has a tendency to kill plants... There was a thread about urine but it kind of grossed me out. I'd ask Richard if I were you or any of the members that have been here longer. Or check if there's any thread on the subject, you'll learn plenty of stuff along the way!!!
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Old 06-14-2015, 01:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

You can get a pH tester at Home Depot that is pretty accurate. Reduce your pH with sulphur; increase it with lime. You can also use MiracleGro for evergreens and azaleas, or Hollytone. They both feed and lower the pH at the same time.

Use the urine for nitrates and such, but the urea will lower the pH a bit as well. I use it on redwoods and bananas. Sorry to gross you out JP, but it's good stuff.
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Old 06-14-2015, 02:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

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Sorry for the dumb question, but how do you measure and adjust the soil pH to be the best for bananas?
Many of the inexpensive pH testers sold at nurseries and big box stores are designed for plants in containers; i.e., a commercial potting mix. In my experience they don't work very well in native soils or mixes you have made with native soils due to the effect of clays. If you are in the latter situation then I recommend obtaining a soil sample and sending it to a reputable lab for testing. There are several to choose from, this is the one I'm familiar with: A & L Labs -- search google for one in your region.

The pH to aim for is 6.1 to 6.3 -- unless you are growing hydroponically. The pH of soil is generally set by the pH of the irrigation water unless the soil is way outside the desired range. In the latter case, adjust the soil to the desired range -- and in all cases maintain the pH by fertigating with every watering.

Here's a guide I wrote awhile back: Banana Cultivation In Non-Tropical Climates
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Old 06-14-2015, 02:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: pH

Thank you so much for your quick replies. I surely appreciate it.
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Old 06-14-2015, 04:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry for the dumb question, but how do you measure and adjust the soil pH to be the best for bananas?
Don't waste too much effort on trying to get the ph perfect, it's not really important. Bananas will grow fine down to a ph of 4.5.

Take a look at some of my photos if you have a doubt.

Here's an excerpt from a USDA Annual Report.





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Old 06-14-2015, 06:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dianef View Post
Sorry for the dumb question, but how do you measure and adjust the soil pH to be the best for bananas? Would adding vinegar to the water help?
Most soilless mix's that you purchase are already ph adjusted for an array of common plants including bananas, chives, basil, cucumber mojitos....

If you put the plant directly in the ground.....your still good.

Bananas adapt.
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You can get a pH tester at Home Depot that is pretty accurate. Reduce your pH with sulphur; increase it with lime. You can also use MiracleGro for evergreens and azaleas, or Hollytone. They both feed and lower the pH at the same time.

Use the urine for nitrates and such, but the urea will lower the pH a bit as well. I use it on redwoods and bananas. Sorry to gross you out JP, but it's good stuff.
I'l gladly send you mine if needed! Lol!
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

I appreciate that most generous of gestures, but I will pass, LOL. Seriously though, I am asked all the time what the magic elixir for dawn redwoods is. Most people are surprised to learn the secret.
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: pH

good question dianef, I have wondered about this at times but never had a reason to "'dig further. potted plants aside. My soil all over my vast domain is s**t, anything deeper than 6 inches, you are apt to run into remains of some waste dump, so i make my own dirt. I'm sure every time you add anything to the soil you are changing it"s ph including the fert you add every week. and all of that takes time to meld, so how do you ever get an accurate reading even if you send a sample to the best labs. how long should you wait after you amend to take a sample, is there a rule of thumb or some such?
Maybe I should start a new thread with this?
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Old 06-14-2015, 08:21 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: pH

Thanks for the input. I appreciate it.
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Old 06-14-2015, 08:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

Any time I mess with the soil, I take a pH reading. I just stick the probe into the soil. Make sure it's damp; not wet, not dry. I've tested soils where the US Forest Service has official soil pHs, like Sequoia and Yosemite, and my readings were in the same range of 4.5.
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Old 06-14-2015, 08:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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So you are saying I can trust those probe things that tell moisture ph and light.or do you have a better one
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Old 06-14-2015, 08:43 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

The one that I use was manufactured by Rapitest, and I have had nothing but good experiences with it. I know there's a lot of discussion on here regarding their accuracy, but I rely on mine.
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Old 06-15-2015, 12:21 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The one that I use was manufactured by Rapitest, and I have had nothing but good experiences with it. I know there's a lot of discussion on here regarding their accuracy, but I rely on mine.
Apparently the soils or soil mixes you are testing are devoid of clay. My experience is that the Rapitest meters work great in commercial bagged potting mixes but terrible where clay soils have been mixed in. This is due to the magneto-electric nature of the device.

Further, I would caution against the concept from PR Giants that bananas work well in all pH's. His experiences are with pH < 7 and water supplied by precipitation, whereas in the continental U.S. we are dealing with municipal water supplies with pH >= 7 and often less than adequate precipitation (although those across the southern U.S. have had a remarkable year for rainfall).

If the majority of your water supply comes from municipal or well-water supplies, then I recommend you test your soil and your water supply. The pH of your irrigation water will set the pH of your soil. Considering the total amount of time and expense you will put into your plant the cost of pH tests is a small percentage (note that a soil lab will test pH for far less than a full analysis).

Giving your plants urine or sulfur soil supplements will put them on a pH rollercoaster ride: down, up, down, up. I believe in these cases it is nonsense when fertigation is so easy.

Have a look at the following chart. It's clear that in mineral soils the availability of certain minerals is greatly diminished below 6.0 (60 on the chart) and also above 7.0. Now it is true that some plants do not want these minerals -- for example northern blueberries (esp. lowbush) prefer acidic soils because they do not want the exempted minerals. But for bananas, the more ideal range is pH 6.1 to 6.3.

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Old 06-15-2015, 10:01 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

Bananas tolerate a remarkably wide range of pH. I have some growing in soil with a pH of 8. They grow fine in acid soils as well. They do not tolerate sodium.
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Old 06-19-2015, 04:29 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: pH

In some cases like mine, when bananas are planted in the ground( I live on the Ozark Plateau, extremely acid), PH is pretty important, at certain PH levels, certain minerals like Calcium are not available to the plants to take up, I have a lot of issues on certain types of bananas (Mostly Musa Sikkimensis) with proper leaf growth, deformities. Here is a link to my post, I used Gypsum in drywall as a quickly available source of calcium since I am having trouble finding a source of it bagged, and they vastly improved. Also here is a link for what to look for with deficiencies, I have seen the reddish tint of the leaf petioles lots of times in potted plants after rain that lasted on and off for a few weeks, it leaches out the nitrogen, etc. from the pots, be careful with some fertilizers, some of them like miracle grow do not have calcium at all in them, so if it leaches out of the soil, you have a calcium shortage.

Anybody add gypsum to their soil for calcium? - Bananas.org
Banana guide - plant nutrition
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Old 06-19-2015, 04:57 PM   #18 (permalink)
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This is one of my Sikkimensis after one dose of gypsum water, nothing else was changed, note the older leaves are all the same size (slight twisting to the one on the right, another calcium hint), then abruptly the new leaf is much larger, also notice the red midrib where the other leaves have none, the bottom of the leaf is now bright red also. The soil is full of limestone that should provide calcium, but it is all not bio available to the plants because of the acidity. The result was stunting, and deformed foliage, lack of color. While most areas, and cases wont be this extreme, PH can matter.
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:40 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: pH

I have an area in my yard where nothing seems to like to grow, the weeds have only recently perked up there. I tested it to see why and it came back at around 8 on Ph, so I added some pine needles and that seems to be helping. Unfortunately, having rainwater all summer helped as well. My well water is around 8 too and the dry season is long, and fast approaching.
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Varieties I supposedly bought: Manzano, Cavendish, Blue Java, Sweetheart, and Gros Michel.
What it seems I actually have: Brazilian, Cavendish, Namwah, Dwarf Red, Gros Michel, Pisang Ceylon, Veinte Cohol and SH 3640, and American Goldfinger. FHIA 1, Paggi and FHIA 17... Always room for one more.
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Old 08-17-2017, 03:31 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: pH

I am new to banana growing so I cannot comment specifically on the best PH for them though it seems from my research that they are quite tolerant of a wide range. However, so many factors with regard to PH levels need to be taken into account if you are aiming for a limited PH range. These are the soil you are going your bananas in, container growing, medium you are using if container grown or the soil conditions in your particular growing region. Then take into account the type of water you use to water your bananas...i.e rain water only, or a mixture of rain water and tap/well water or reverse osmosis water. Then on top of that, add your particular fertilizer and voila, the PH changes again!
In my experience of growing orchids in pots for example, I use RO water which has a PH of 7 (neutral) and a total dissolved solids reading of around 1-9. Once I add my fertilizer to the desired range depending on the plants requirements, this changes the PH. At or above 5.8 on the PH scale, magnesium is readily available but calcium is not. So too, below 5.8 calcium become available to the plant to take in but magnesium is not. Plants need both. So I adjust each fertilisation to accommodate this. Are bananas as fussy? I dont know but there are more factors involved than the PH of the starting point which would be the soil it is grown in. If it is an important factor to you as a grower, I would recommend investing a small sum in a PH meter (not very accurate but near enough) and a TDS meter. As most plants cannot tolerate high salts content, this could be useful in determining a good average PH level before fertilising and then with fertilizer and adjusting according to your start point (soil) and your water (in your particular area and circumstances).
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