best banana?

bugmansean(9)August 5, 2009

I was wondering, what do you think is the best kind of banana plant to grow, in terms of flavor? I only have enough space designated for one plant, and I don't want something that just tastes like I could've bought it at Publix.

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billbrandi(9)

I have 3 different varieties in my backyard and the best tasting, by far, is the red ice cream.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 10:08PM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

Don't know where you are in zone 9, but growing bananas much north of orlando is a hit and miss proposition. That said, I have two varieties, a dwarf cavendish that I've had for 25 years and a FHIA 18 for at least 5. Both are better than what you will get at Publix just because you are not going to pick them green. The dwarf cavendish is a small "lady finger" type, very tasty. The fhia 18 is an "Apple Banana", a little tart. Both are more cold tolerant than most. "Going Bananas" in Homestead has any banana you could want. He also shows up at Leu Gardens plant sale in March and other places. Here's a link I found helpful.
Good luck,
john

Here is a link that might be useful: Banana Growing in the Florida Home Landscape1

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 12:45AM
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happy_fl_gardener

bugmansean---If you live in the DeLand area I would be more than happy to share some banana plants with you. I have plenty to share. They are Klu Nam Wa. They have a subacid tang, similar to an Apple banana but it is more disease resistant and much more cold hardy. It grows stalky and never falls over and is a great producer. It withstood the 2 hard freezes we had here very well. My FHIA 1 (Goldfinger) is also an excellent banana that has the same subacid taste that I really prefer.

My hubby won't eat the homegrown bananas I grow just because they don't taste like they came from the store. I am going to respectfully disagree with John about the flavor of the dwarf cavindish. I don't grow it because it tastes similar to store bought. In fact, the tall cavindish was a commercial variety gown in Central America many years ago.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 9:00AM
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happy_fl_gardener

John, Took this pic today. The banana patch has 9 bunches in it. I like the bananas but I grow them for the ornamental value too. I live near DeLand, about 45 miles north of Orlando. No hit or miss growing bananas here.

Christine

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 10:05PM
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vanbrat

Beautiful bananas Christine. Do you cover them when we have frost warnings coming? I live south of you in Longwood FL and have two 3 foot bananas I started this spring.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 7:20AM
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happy_fl_gardener

vanbrat---I have a 2 acre yard with lots of tropical plants and the last thing I worry about are the bananas. I actually have more then these. If a banana variety can't withstand low 20s then I throw it away. These took the 2 hard freezes that we recently had very well. Of course, the leaves got burnt.

Because the "trunks" don't freeze, I have 9 bunches of bananas coming already. The center clump is Goldfinger. Here are some pics of a recent flower blooming.

Christine

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 8:39AM
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abendwolke(9 FL)

I love my Raja Puri. The plants stay compact, are very cold hardy and the fruits are short and fat and sweet :-)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:01AM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

Christine,
I live in Deland also. That two nights of mid to low 20's froze my apple banana to the ground, along with two picabeen palms, three foxtail palms, a majesty palm, a red silk floss tree and anything else tropical that I couldn't cram in my greenhouse. Most of those I've had for at least 7-8 years. What I meant by hit or miss is that if the plant doesn't bloom by mid october your chances of harvesting the fruit are slim. Before Hurricane Francis my little back yard enjoyed a 9b-10 microclimate, until we lost the big trees, mine and my neighbors, that protected it. Last winter was the most damage since 83-84. Did the banana plants in the photo survive last winter? If so I want one.
Pardon my whining, john

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 12:20PM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

Christine,
Duh! I missed the part that said "Took this pic today". Maybe I need something that will bloom earlier.
John

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 1:03PM
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happy_fl_gardener

John, I grew the apple banana and about 16 other varieties years ago and the apple banana is not a good banana to grow in this area. It has low disease (fungal) resistance and it is cold sensitive. The bananas plants that I grow have the same subacid flavor. You are welcome to some suckers of my goldfinger and klu nam wa. You are right about bloom timing. Any flower forming after this point will have a low chance of ripening especially if we have an early freeze. "Charlie" knocked out a lot of my big trees too but luckily there are still some left for some mircoclimate areas.

abendwolke --- I agree. Raja Puri is a very good banana for cold areas. Glad that it is doing well for you.

Christine

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 6:51PM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

Hi Christine,
I would love to have a sucker from your plants. Maybe I could put them in a spot that is less protected , but with more sun. Would you please email me.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 12:27AM
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bugmansean(9)

Hello, and thank you everyone for the information! :)
happy_fl_gardener: I live in the Brandon area, a little far from DeLand, I'm afraid. :/ Having said that, those photos look fantastic. I'm going to search a few local nurseries for those types and see what I can find. And if I can't find them, road trip time!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 8:59PM
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happy_fl_gardener

bugmansean---You won't find them in a local nursery.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 10:01PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

I have been growing exotic ( no Cavendish..PLEASE ) bananas for 25 years in South Florida, first in the Upper Keys, then starting 5 yrs ago, here in Englewood on the SW coast. I have tried them all,..Raja Puri, Ice Cream, Nam Wah, Dwarf Reds, etc, etc,..but none of them can compare to the exquisite taste and reliability of the Goldfinger. A hybrid developed after many years of experimenting, in Honduras.
Try it, - you'll like it ! ( smile )

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 4:31PM
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happy_fl_gardener

Jofus - In an earlier picture that I posted above, dated 8-7-09, there is a clump of Goldfinger plants right in the center of the picture. I got one huge bunch when the plant was young and not much more ever since. They are not a good bloomer for my area. I'm slowly removing them so I can replace them with Ice Cream. That variety has been the best of all of the varieties that I have grown - even better than the workhorse Nam Wah.

I agree with you about the Dwarf Cavindish. I used to grow it but the fruit taste like it came from the grocery store. I like my bananas to have a little tang to them.

Thank you for thinking of us but you are so much warmer which makes a big difference.

Christine

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 5:45PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Christine : Your pic shows a marvelous string of healthy, well maintained banana plants,..no yellow showing at all, obviously well fertilized ( demanding bunch aren't they ? )
I am hoping that in another 8 months, when the pups I just now transplanted will be fruiting, to have a similar string to show off,..won't be quite as long tho as my raised bed is only 30 ft long. If they come out half as nice as those in your pic, I'll be happy.

This post was edited by jofus on Mon, Aug 19, 13 at 8:56

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 11:29AM
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happy_fl_gardener

Jofus - It just so happens that I recently took a new picture of the earlier posted picture in '09 of my banana patch area. This is what it looks like 4 years later. The blueberries have grown but the bananas just keep going the same.

Actually, I find the banana patch to be low care. The area is irrigated and well mulched which helps a lot. There is a mix of NamWa, Ice Cream, and Goldfinger banana plants in there. I'm sure that your banana patch will look great too. You can grow a lot of banana plants in 30 '. Show pictures when you get your patch established.

Christine

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:01PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Christine : Tryin not to misspell anything, just in from mowing, weed whacking and then leaf blowing my 1/4 acre lot at 11:30 AM,.. (100 degrees in de shade ),..hands still shaking. ( smile )
Your pic looks nice. Hope I didn' imply I thought bananas were a chore,...they are easy when I have a ready made raised bed I built 4 yrs ago using old RR ties, already well fertilized. And with Mother Natures daily deluge these days, its a breeze growing these scrumptous delights,...compared to the ones for sale in Publix and Wallys.
Trying hard in last year to gradually lighten my load, but a 360 sq ft raised bed full of Goldfingers is right up my alley these days. It's only when a bed like that becomes so full, the underground corm blocks any new plants. But that is maybe 8. 9 years or so away I am thinking,..so nothing to worry about now.
I love blueberrys but can only imagine the kamikaze attacks from the birds I'd have to endure. So in line with my " load-lightening " game plan, will just stick with my 6 mango trees ( easiest of all ), bananas, one Ruby Red grapefruit tree and one key lime tree, - will not expand any further.
Tell me, are your blueberries attacked a lot by the critters ?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 12:12PM
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ibarbidahl(9 (tampa-ish))

Christine -

Is that a mango tree???? If so Oh good LORD I am envious! Or is it an avacado? What type (Of either?)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 12:27PM
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happy_fl_gardener

ibarbidahl - Oh, you are so observant! Yes, that is a mango tree in the picture. I was wondering if someone would notice that I have a mature mango tree here in zone 9a where temps can get down to 21 degrees. Obviously, I protect the tree in the winter. I took more pictures and I'm going to start a new thread to show it off.

jofus - Sounds like your banana patch is just perfect. I am envious about the larger choice of banana varieties that will grow well in your area. I've test grown at least 18 varieties over the years, and I keep to only a few.

I once had a desire to "lighten my load" too. Before the blueberries, I had a blackberry patch there. I took the blackberry patch out and left the area bare for about a year. It wasn't long before I viewed the area as a spot to plant something else. That's when I decided to put blueberries there. So much for lightening my work load. As for critters, when the patch was new, I picked 5 gallons just using bird repeller ribbon hanging on shephard hooks. Well, after that future harvests haven't been so great. The birds are no longer afraid of the ribbon. To my disappointment, what I have observed in the spring is many birds eating the blueberries when still white with no ripeness at all. So, this spring I'm going to make a PVC structure to support bird netting to place over the bushes. I'm open to other suggestions if someone has a better idea.

Christine

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 9:00AM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Sorry Christine, but I never got into blueberries. However I did have two Tropic Beauty peach trees for a few years that had similar problems. I bravely fought off the kamikaze attacks,..reminding me of the stories my Uncle Tom told me long ago about his experiences at Okinawa, ( smile )
In desperation I bought & installed huge bird nets, ( trees were then over 8 ft tall ), however the more daring, birds actually FLEW UNDER the netting, up thru the small gaps underneath. To their detriment tho, as each of those daring devils never made it out, found then flapping their wings & gasping on a branch after they'd each mutilated a couple of peaches.
I finally waved the white flag & pulled the old " Craigslist trick " and both trees were gone in two days. I could only smile at the energetic, strong young guys & gals who dug 'em up and hauled them off,..wished them good look as well,..as I do to you.
Now I just mess with my bananas and such,..much easier.

" Work all night on a drink a' rum
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Stack banana till the mornin' come
Daylight come and me wan' go home

A beautiful bunch 'a ripe banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home..." ( smile )

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 10:46AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Christine,

What birds cause you fits? Mockingbirds? I have almost no bird predation on my blueberries and I do nothing to protect them. The resident cardinals get a few berries and are welcome to dine.....a few cat birds come in and they are not so welcome but that is about it. I did see 1 mockingbird this year that was here a week or so before it left or was shot.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

I kind of wish I had the room to plant some banana trees. Fruit aside, they simply look great, especially when growing in a group like that. Unfortunately, with the small size of my yard and the... 'direction' of my garden/landscape, a banana tree would look really out of place being the only 'tropical' plant in an otherwise subtropical yard. Thanks for sharing the pics Christine.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 1:19PM
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happy_fl_gardener

jofus - I can hear Harry Belafonte singing in my mind - "Day Oh". Nice song.

I've heard that the birds get caught up in the bird netting. That's why I have put up with some fruit loss, but it has gotten to the point where there is no reason to keep the BB bushes unless I do something. :(

Wills - The birds are small. I think mockingbirds. They must be very hungry to eat the berries at such a white stage. It's a shame that I haven't been getting much fruit to show for the 30 plants that I have. Didn't even get enough to make a pie. (In fairness, this year the late freeze destroyed most of the berries.) You are so lucky to not be bothered by them.

Speaking about birds... I was walking past my persimmon trees this week when all of a sudden a flock of blackbirds jumped out of the larger tree. They ate and poked holes in many of the ripening fruits. Luckily, they don't come around very often. Good thing I scared them off when I did.

Leekle - Well, if you had the desire, I would gladly share banana plants with you. Banana plants aren't for everyone. Glad you enjoyed the pics. :)

Christine

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 11:33PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Christine : i admire your tenacity and energy. Can only speak about the two areas of Florida that I have lived in, here and the Upper Keys, and both areas were and still are, home to many, many different birds,...even ospreys, eagles and a plethora of hawks, crows and black birds.
So, not looking for additional hassles, I know better at this stage to start in on a fruit that will attract hordes of these hungry pests.
Just for the heck of it tho, I perused a half dozen sites regarding the growing of blueberries in North Central Florida. All had birds listed as the # 1 enemy to anyone trying to grow those delicious fruits. However, one site had some different solutions to try, so am sending it along in the hope it might be of some use to you.
Good luck !

http://www.growingproduce.com/article/28840/berry-growers-battling-birds

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:34AM
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thetradition(9b)

This is my first year with blueberries and I did not notice any bird or squirrel predation of the few berries I allowed my young bushes to produce. Now, the strawberries on the other hand, I never got any fruit that wasn't grown in pots in the safety of my swimming pool enclosure.

I used the bird netting on my peach tree last year with good results (except for knocking a few peaches off due to the bird netting). I used a long bungee cord to wrap the bottom of the netting around the trunk, so there was no way a bird (or a squirrel for that matter) could fly/climb in from the bottom. It was a pain to remove because the tree grow shoots through the netting. Had to cut it to shreds to get it off without stripping leaves.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 12:51PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Well because everyone else is posting pics of their bananas lol...This is the Icecream banana coffee mom gave me. That is a 6 foot ladder in the pic so it is a big plant.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:40PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Christine,

It is so easy to protect against the late freezes on the blueberries. Just set up 1 or 2 overhead impact sprinklers to cover the beds and your freeze worries are over. It is a bit hard to see the sprinklers in the picture...they are 6 feet tall, in the middle of the picture on the white pipes. There are two sprinklers on each BB bed, have 3 beds.

This post was edited by bamboo_rabbit on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 14:13

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:57PM
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Anjanmel

I have been successful in growing bananas i do not know the varieties i have 3 different varaities. The past year i was fortunate to get yields from 4 plants hale and healthy.I want to grow a banana plantation in orlando i would like to get more help and advise.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 7:50PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Slow to change from a winner, I will just copy/paste the blurb Going Bananas in Homestead puts out for the brand of banana the owners strongly recommended to me 16 years ago. Have had no reason to change since, they sure know their business. Have nine ( 9 ) plants now in various stages of growth, will always have them,..so easy to grow/maintain, and the taste is magnifico IMHO ! ( smile )

GOLDFINGER (FHIA-1) - A rapid growing, mostly green plant producing a wonderful tasting, slightly sub-acid, refreshing fruit that gets 6-8 inches long or better. It is a very disease resistant, wind & cool tolerant plant that is easy to grow. In our area the ripening fruit does not get dark yellow, instead gives only a slight color change when mature so check it often when close to harvesting. Height 10-12 ft. This one is a MUST.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:02AM
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