Potted Banana is now Flowering!

rwallen1961(Iowa City, IA Zone 5)June 1, 2007

Just thought I would share my good news with you all.

In May of 2004, I purchased both an Ice Cream and Monkey Fingers banana from Stokes. While one of them didn't make it (not sure which one), the other one did take off like a rocket.

Since I live in the Chicago area, it was a potted plant spending the summers outdoors and the winters indoors. Luckily, I have 18' ceilings in my living room, so there was plenty of space for it to thrive through the winter months and I have floor-to-ceiling windows with a SE exposure so light wasn't a problem either.

Historically, through the winter months the growth would slow down to nearly a stall, but this past winter, one new leaf after the other kept on coming which was amazing. This banana was now 11 feet tall from the top of the soil to the point where the leaves were coming off the pseudostem. Each leaf was nearly 7 feet long and trust me, they it was taking over the entire room. In mid-April of this year, a new leaf unrolled and I thought it was strange that the new leaf was only about 3 feet long. Totally consistent in the appearance, only the size was smaller.

In early-May of this year, I took it outside to spend the warmer months. During a major thunderstorm, I did lose 4 of the large leaves, but no real damage overall. No worries though. I did notice that nothing much was happening, no new leaf formation, but I attributed all of that to the cool nights and a general need for the plant to get accustomed to being outside. Now it had lots of direct sun, wind and other conditions. I suspected it just needed to get used to that for a bit.

Well, lucky for me, that wasn't the case at all. I noticed that a new leaf was forming, but until it progressed further, no way to see it was anything special. Now in the past 2 days, I can see that it is the last leaf that appears before the flower stalk arrives. I'm really excited.

So many people think you can't grow things up north, but let me tell you, you can, especially if your patient. This banana took 3 years and overtook my living space, but what the heck, it's finally "doing it's thing".

Here are a few pictures and I'll post more pics as things progress. Enjoy.


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Great pictures, Ron. Amazing story! So, how did you take care of it while overwintering in the house? Do you fertilize it often? It has an enormous height. If I have to guess, it might be the ice cream because this variety grows tall. I have one in the ground that is 10-11 ft now. It has a pup that is 4-5 ft. So, has yours pupped yet? That said, I'm only guessing because I don't know how tall monkey fingers grow and haven't even seen one. Either way, you're going to enjoy your first fruit of your labor. How exciting! If time permits, keep posting your pictures. It would be interesting to see how it progresses with its fruit of the loom. I started planting bananas 2 and a half years ago, so far no sight of any blooms yet, so your story is inspiring!

I see you have some kind of palms trees in the background. What varieties are those and do they do well where you are? The tree besides the banana, is it an Italian cypress? It looks lush green and very healthy. I have three Italian cypress and they're about 5 ft now--showing very slow growth and the foliages aren't as green. Wondering if I should feed it to make them look greener.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 10:53AM
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rwallen1961(Iowa City, IA Zone 5)

Well as for the winter care, I do reduce the watering to about 30% of what I do in the summer (which is to soak it with the hose nearly every single day). I did fertalize once around the first of the year and other than that, nothing special really.

There was one pup that was up only about 10 inches when I brought it inside in late September and it grew like a weed all winter. In fact, it was about 6 feet tall by early May so I removed the pup as I couldn't get the plant out of the house without doing so. I planted the pup directly into my garden this year without potting it at all. It had a bit of shock for the first 10 days, but now has recovered nicely.

I also have a 10 foot plumeria that blooms like crazy all summer, a 13 foot Foxtail palm a King Palm and a Royal Palm (now 9 feet tall to the top of the longest leaf) that I grew from seed. Crazy huh?

I'll post progress pictures as the weeks carry on.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:19AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

That should be good timing, considering we've got atleast 3.5 to 4.5 months worth of heat left. After it fruits, its game over, right?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 2:00PM
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Wow, I'm impressed!!! Thats a beauty!!! I had one grow almost that tall, and thanks to high ceilings, its possible. I hope you enjoy it!!! Diana55

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 9:15PM
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funsocaltiger(SoCal - 9b / 19)

Wow that's impressive! I'm really curious, what size pot did you have to use to support that?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 3:57PM
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paxetamor(7b Abilene TX)

Bummed here, the photos are only showing up as a red "X" on my screen. Must be parental controls or something... Sure would enjoy seeing them though. Mick -- Abilene, TX

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 9:43PM
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rwallen1961(Iowa City, IA Zone 5)

I don't calculate pot sizes in "gallons", I just do it by simple measurements.

The pot this baby has been growing in is 20" tall and 20" across at the top. It tapers down slightly so I suspect it's 16" across at the bottom. It's a large pot, but not excessive.

The bloom has now formed completely, started tiping downwards and things are looking good. More pictures to come.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 9:51PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

rwallen, actually, you are measuring pots correctly! :)

Tropical foliage plants for indoor use have their size identified by the diameter of the pot measured across the top (so you technically have a 20" banana, although that sounds pretty silly and vaguely obscene!). When I switched from working at a garden center to an interior landscaping company, it took me a long time to stop thinking in gallons and start thinking in inches!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 9:59PM
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rwallen1961(Iowa City, IA Zone 5)

Well, here's an update on June 18th, less than 3 weeks later.

The flower has emerged completely and I now have 3 clumps of bananas clearly visible. I'm amazed at how fast this has progressed.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 7:55AM
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This is absolutely stunning. Growing bananas in a Chicago summer! You've done the impossible. Hope you get all this well documented. I don't know if anybody in the past has done that before. Perhaps some university extension might have already done that in their greenhouse? I presume this plant has already given off some pups. Are you going to do the same with the them? Thanks for sharing the pics--congrats and a job well done. Look forward to more pics.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 12:03PM
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rwallen1961(Iowa City, IA Zone 5)

Thanks for the kind words. I actually had a dwarf cavendish set fruit about 6-7 years ago, but being only about 5 feet tall, it wasn't nearly as dramatic as this beauty.

Unfortunately, some of the 8 foot leaves took a beating during an early summer thunderstorm so it's not quite the thing of beauty that it once was, but what the heck, it's setting fruit and that's the point of it all, right?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 12:21PM
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Awesome! It is a pleasure to see it!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Congrats, Great job !!!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 11:27AM
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