banana seed success

vmckague(Central Mo. Zone 5)February 12, 2007

I have been gardening now for over 30 years and this will be the first time that I am trying to start bananas from seed. The ones I'm trying are abyssinian banana - musa. I received the seed today and the instructions said it would take 1-6 months to germinate. Is this right? I've read a few posts and it seems most people have some to sprout in a month or less. Any words of wisdom on this project? Is it worth it? I plan on using a heat mat that I got from parks seed last month but maybe it will keep the soil to warm. It is the kind that has a wire rack over it. I checked the soil temp in a flat over it with a digital thermometer and it was at 89 to 90 degrees. Isn't that kind of high? Thanks in advance

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Yep, sometimes it takes a month or much longer. I soaked 5 Nepal Giants in orange juice for 24 hours and planted 5 seeds in a soiless mix (Jiffy-Mix for seeds), put them on a heating pad at 80 degrees and waited. One sprouted in 31 days and the other in 38 days. One rotted and the other two are still germinating.
There are a dozen different ways to germinate these things. Some say to pour boiling water over them and let them sit in the water for 5 days and plant in the same soiless mix at 95 degrees turning the heat off at night and resuming the heat during the day. Then wait. When you see one of the seeds starting to sprout carefully lift it out with a small spoon and replant it up to a mix that has some fertilizer. I choose Miracle-Gro potting soil. You simply will not believe how fast they grow then! You can almost sit and watch the cells divide and the leaves shoot out. I've been into melons and tomato's for many years and enjoyed it, but the bananas have really got me excited. I just bought 5 more kinds and can't wait to fire up the heat pads. I found a site that has 100 Abyssinians for $8.75. Ya can't go wrong there. If I have a 50% germination rate I'll have bananas everywhere in the yard!!!
I've also soaked some seeds in some liquid called Cape Smoke from South Africa. Can't see any advantage there.
So, experiment and have fun.
Stay in touch and let us know how it's going!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 8:30PM
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The most important advice i can give is to be patient. Musa (banana)seeds are a mystery. They will germinate when they are ready. LOL. keep the temps on the pad at around 80F to 95F. then at night turn off the heat pad.I have had the best success with bananas seeds fluctuating temperatures. Also keep them moist.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 1:21AM
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ornata(London UK (8/9?))

Isn't the Abyssinian banana Ensete ventricosum, and not Musa?

Ensete will germinate quite easily with constant heat, rather than the temperature fluctuation that seeds of the Musa genus seem to benefit from.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 5:02AM
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vmckague(Central Mo. Zone 5)

I did a google search and found out abyssinian is ensete like you said and not musa like the seed pack listed. I am new at this banana growing and am not very good on names yet but I guess the company that I got the seeds from isn't either as that is what they list them as being. Thanks for the info as now I'll switch back to constant bottom heat instead of alternating it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 6:02AM
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ornata(London UK (8/9?))

Oh dear - now I feel responsible! I have certainly had germination of Ensete by giving the seeds constant bottom heat, but it could be that an alternating temperature cycle would do the job better/more quickly? Anybody care to confirm this?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 6:42AM
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bananasdotorg(S Fla 10b)

We have a new sub-forum at for banana seed germination, but there are plenty of posts on the site from before we made a dedicated forum for these posts, you can search those up just by typing the name of the plant you want info on into the searchbox.
"As one of the toughest seeds in the plant kingdom to figure out the keys to germination success with, this is a forum with banana seed germination tips. Please entitle posts like "Musa balbisiana," or "Musa cheesmani," etc. People would then post a reply under that heading, sharing their germination successes (and failures), what materials and methods they used, germination percentage, etc."
Here is the link:
Banana Seed Germination Forum

Here is a link that might be useful: Bananas

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 8:49AM
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montyburns(z6a MA)

Do they like light or dark during germination??

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 3:08PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

They come up when they want to as far as I can see. Some of the freshest seeds don't come up. Some of the old ones do, some of the old ones don't. After you throw them away, sometimes they come up in the compost pile...
One thing I've found though, the more you pay for the seed, the worse germination rate they seem to have.
Paid $60 for some seeds, none of them came up. The free ones they sent as a bonus, four of them came up!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 9:33AM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

Musa and Ensete seeds, in my experience, do not really respond to light or dark. Under 1/2 inch of soil, it's dark anyway. They respond to alternating temperatures (Musa) better than any other treatment. Ensete don't need alternating temps though. Constant temps around 85-95F will suffice, but don't get up over 100F, or you will kill the embryo.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 11:09PM
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I have planted musa ensete, musa velutina, and musa sapientum seeds like this: put them in boiled(hot) water, and soaked them for a week, then planted them and kept the soil moist and the pots dark and quite warm. but it takes quite long before they germinate. but they did :) But i have heard that it can be a problem growing them from seed.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 11:27AM
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miamimax(z 10-11 FL)

The best way that Ive found to germinate musa seed quicky (within 2 weeks)is to scarify the seed and then soak them overnight in water. I take a nail file and just file a small notch into the seed hull until I just break through the outer shell. You have to be careful not to go in too deep as to not damage any of the white 'meat'. You can always tell at this point whether your seed is viable or not too. Dead seed will be empty or black and dried up inside.I usually try to make the small notch close to the top of the seed (there is a little round 'belly button') as the first roots emerge around the outer edge of the 'button'.The leaves will sprout from the center. I havent had any problems with temperature, as long as it has been above 60. The biggest problem you will encounter is trying NOT to overwater these seedlings-bananas will ROT if kept too moist, its much better to underwater than to over do it. Ive germinated Ensetes, ornatas, laterita, bi-color,velutina, and rowe this way with almost 100% success.Im surprised no one else has posted this old fashioned way to speed up germination with seed that has thick hulls!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 1:25AM
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what genus/species are the common yellow seedless banana that you buy in the store? i was gonna eat one, and when i peeled it and bit in, the flesh was firmer than usual and there were cavities running the length of the banana lined with a red/orange sticky stuff and in the sticky stuff there were little black thigs in parallel rows through the cavities. were these little black things seeds? the other bananas in that same hand were not like this, it was just that one banana.....:( i was hoping for more seeds.... (IF they weere seeds) because i've never grown banana seeds before and i wanted some to experiment with. if they were seeds, do you think that if i could sprout them they would be seedless like their parents were SUPPOSED to be? also, how would you clean the seeds? they were so small (about the size of a period at the end of a sentence), i couldnt clean them very easily. i just kinda rolled them around in a dry paper towel to try and rub off some of the orange mucus. how long will they last?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 1:21AM
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