Musa (Banana plant) - Expert tips

How to care for the Banana plant (Musa): Expert Tips for Thriving Plants

There is nothing that is more tropical than a banana plant! Your home will look like a tropical rainforest with its lush, glossy green leaves. Some varieties even have a beautiful purple pattern on these leaves. However, you should know Banana plants don't produce fruit when kept inside, but they are still excellent houseplants.

The Musa, also known as the Banana plant or the Musa Tropicana, is native to South-East Asia and Australia. Musa belongs to the Musaceae family, and there are just over 60 species of Musa. The most popular indoor Banana plant is Musa Dwarf Cavendish, a small Banana plant that typically grows 0.8-1,2 m tall.

Musa bananaplant

The Banana plant has been cultivated since the 6th century, making it one of the oldest commercial indoor plants. The first Banana nursery was established in Costa Rica, but originally, as mentioned earlier, they came from South-East Asia and Australia. Today, however, it is grown in many tropical countries and in many homes in less tropical countries. The Banana plant owes its name to William Cavendish, the man who brought it to Europe.

Good to know! They are often called Banana trees as they grow as tall as trees. However, Banana plants are not woody, and their "trunk" consists of the bases of their enormous leaf stalks. Technically, they are giant herbaceous plants and, therefore, cannot be called trees.

A banana plant is a perfect gift for every plant enthusiast. It is easy to maintain, so even if you are new to the growing plant, you can take care of it easily. There are some critical care aspects, however, and in this article, we will give you our best tips on how to do it!

Banana Plant Care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully

  1. Provide it with plenty of light. While most Banana plants prefer direct sunlight, they also thrive in indirect bright light. Direct sunlight for a maximum of six hours is ideal.
  2. Keep an eye on the watering routine. It prefers moist soil and hates it when it dries out completely. Water it when the top soil dries out to 2-3 cm.
  3. Make sure there is good drainage. The Musa plants love moist soil, but they don't tolerate it if it is too wet and the excess water can't escape. In such conditions, root rot is likely to occur quickly.
  4. Regularly fertilise it. Due to its rapid growth, it is a heavy feeder. It should be fertilised every 2 to 4 weeks with liquid plant food.
  5. Make sure the air is humid. Humidity should be between 60-90%. You'll get brown leaf edges if the air is too dry.
  6. Keep the temperature stable. It can't tolerate too cold or too hot temperatures, and fluctuations are the worst. The result will be stress and stunted growth.
  7. Occasionally clean the leaves. Remove all dust and debris accumulated over time with a damp cloth.
  8. Be sure to monitor regularly. Keep an eye on the leaves and stems. If you see something unusual, look it up immediately and take action to prevent too much damage.
  9. It needs enough space. As it grows, it needs more room to show off its beautiful leaves.
  10. Let it get used to your home conditions. With proper care, it will grow fast and healthy once it has adapted to its new home.

Banana Tree (Musa) Care Tips

Light and placement

The Banana plant needs a lot of natural light, so place it where it will get plenty. Avoid placing it on a southern window sill or in a dark place inside the room. The blaze of the southern window sun can burn the plants, and too shady spots can make them grow leggy.

Most varieties of Banana plants prefer to grow in full sun, meaning they need at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. However, some varieties can scorch quickly and do better in the semi-shade or in a place with plenty of indirect light. Cavendish Musa dwarfs tolerate indirect light levels better.

So, keep an eye on its leaves, and when you see that they turn reddish-brown - they cannot withstand that intense sun and are best suited to filtered light. In contrast, when your Banana plant doesn't get direct sunlight and its leaves start to turn yellow, it might require more sunlight.

Musa leaves

If Musa plants don't get enough light, they can't photosynthesise effectively, leading to slow growth. Their leaves may also become pale and yellow, indicating they don't have enough chlorophyll. You can use grow lights if you don't have an alternative brighter spot.

Watering

Banana plants are thirsty plants and require lots of water. However, Musa plant roots cannot tolerate stagnant moisture and also dislike dry soil conditions. They love moderate moisture in the soil. Don't worry! It just takes some time and experimentation to figure out a watering routine that works.

It's best to water them after 2-3 cm of soil has been slightly dried. Use a water meter or stick your finger into the topsoil to determine if it needs watering.

Expert tip! Water only with room-temperature water, as cold water can easily shock your tropical Banana plant.

Overwatering Musa plants can lead to fungal diseases and root rot. If you suspect you're overwatering your Musa plant, cut back on watering and ensure that the soil has a good drainage system. Overwatering can also make the leaves yellow.

Fertiliser

Musa plants are particularly heavy feeders since they grow really fast. It's best to fertilise them every 2-4 weeks during the growing season to keep that rapid growth going. We suggest fertilising with PLNTS liquid plant food. It can simply be added to the water used for watering your plants. They don't need fertiliser when there isn't enough light during the winter months.

Temperature

Despite being rainforest plants, Banana plants are tolerant of a range of temperatures. They grow best in temperatures between 19°C and 30°C. So average home temperatures are perfect. They can tolerate cooler temperatures in winter but should not go below 15°C. The minimum temperature a Musa plant can tolerate is around 10°C. However, temperatures below this can damage the plant and hinder its growth. Compared to regular Banana plants, Musa Dwarf Cavendish is more cold-tolerant.

Is it safe to take it outside in the summer (Europe)?

It is safe to take it outdoors in the summer when the night temperatures are over 10-15°C. Find it a warm place to grow and protect Banana plants from direct sun and wind. In windy conditions, its large foliage may easily be blown away by the wind.

Although Banana plants thrive in the intense sun, it is vital to gradually acclimate them to the outdoor environment by placing them in a shaded area before exposing them to direct sunlight. Ensure you bring your Banana plant inside before it gets too chilly again!

Humidity

As tropical plants, Bananas require high humidity to grow indoors successfully. A humidity range of 60-90% is ideal. Banana leaves become crisp and brown when the air is too dry, and spider mites easily attack them.

If the air in your room is too dry, try using a room humidifier or a water tray with pebbles nearby. You can also mist leaves 2-3 times per week to increase humidity. However, ensure the leaves are dry when night falls, as wet leaves can develop fungal diseases overnight. Learn more about air humidity and how to raise it.

Repotting

As Banana plants grow larger, they need to be repotted to provide enough room for their roots to spread. They typically need to be repotted every 2-3 years or when the roots have filled the entire container and begin to grow out of the bottom drainage holes.

Expert tip! Always repot in the spring so the plant can recover from any damage that may have occurred during repotting. Put the plant in a pot that is 20% wider than before. Choose a spacious pot that is wide and low rather than narrow and tall. Their rhizomes are close to the surface, they feel more comfortable in such pots.

Musa repotting

Soil

It's best to grow Musa plants in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. The pH should be about 5.5-7.5, which is slightly acidic to neutral. We recommend using PLNTS organic potting soil for the best results.

Propagating Musa

You can propagate Musa plants in a few ways, including dividing the plant babies or growing them from seed. Separating the plant babies is the easiest and most effective way. For this method, you will need a mother plant with tiny baby plants growing near its stem.

Step-by-step guide on how to propagate Banana plants with offsets (baby plants):

  1. Remove the plant from its pot carefully. If it doesn't want to come out of its pot, try tapping around and bottom of the pot a little.
  2. Carefully divine baby offsets from the mother plant. Make sure the baby plant has its own roots. You can use clean scissors or a knife to cut the roots.
  3. Prepare a small pot with well-draining houseplant soil and transplant your new banana plant into it. Plant the baby plant at the same depth as it was next to the mother plant.
  4. Choose a warm spot with filtered bright light for it, but keep direct sunlight at a distance.
  5. Water it regularly and keep the soil moderately moist.

Be patient, and you will have a healthy new banana plant in a few months. Once new leaf growth appears, you know your propagation has succeeded!

Step-by-step guide on how to propagate Banana plants with seeds:

  1. Banana seeds have quite a hard surface and need to be soaked in water before sowing them into the soil. This helps to soften it, and it sprouts more easily. Just soak the seeds in warm water for about 24 hours.
  2. Prepare a seed tray or small seedling pots with well-draining soil.
  3. Use a pencil or your finger to make a hole in the soil and put a banana seed into it. Cover the hole with soil and gently tap it.
  4. Water them well and cover them with a plastic cover or plastic bag to help them keep humidity high.
  5. Place in a warm and bright spot but avoid direct sunlight. You can also use a heating mat to keep your seedlings warm.
  6. As soon as seedlings appear, remove the plastic cover and maintain a regular care routine. Just make sure they don't dry out.
  7. You can transplant them into bigger pots once they are big enough.

Propagating Banana plants by seeds with definitely take more time and effort, but it is possible. Just give it some time and care, and you will see results!

Banana fruit

Banana fruit is a well-known and loved fruit that doesn't need any introduction. Unfortunately, in most cases, indoor Musa plants won't produce bananas. Average indoor conditions are just not tropical and bright enough.

If you have encouraged your Banana plant to bloom and fruit, cut off the fruit shoots after harvesting. In place of the cut-off, new shoots emerge from the soil.

Musa fruits

Most common pests and diseases on Musa

Musa owners should remain alert to the many pests and diseases that can affect your Banana plant. For the Musa that is placed indoors, watch out for root rot, leaf spot, wilt and mildew. Additionally, it is prone to spider mites, scale insects, mealybugs, and fungus gnats.

We recommend you visit our PLNTSdoctor page to ensure which pests are infecting your Musa and how to control them.

Are Musa’s toxic for pets or children?

The Musa has a lot of great qualities, and one of them is that it's non-toxic to pets and also does not harm people if eaten. In fact, the leaves of the Banana plants are used in kitchens all over the world, and the flowers are considered by some foodies to be delectable.

Buy your new Musa at PLNTS.com

At PLNTS.com you can buy your new Musa online, for example the Musa Dwarf Cavendish. Whether you like your Musa big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - buy Bananaplant online at PLNTS.com

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Hi, I'm Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!

Hi, I’m Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!