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When can I ID?

Posted by Leekle2ManE Lady Lake, FL 9a (My Page) on
Mon, May 19, 14 at 7:13

I acquired four banana pups last fall when a local RV park was going to rip out all theirs because the plants weren't growing fast enough. While I didn't have personal experience I knew all the pups in the clumps were holding back the parents and offered to remove them. They have been in-ground in a sheltered corner since then and doing well. Problem is, nobody at the park knew what type they were or even when they were planted. The tallest is over 3 ft and putting on new growth like crazy. But I would like to get a good ID on them and don't know at what point I should snap a shot. Anyone mind educating me?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: When can I ID?

Well, since no one has answered... or can answer... I'll just link a few pics of my biggest one. If someone is able to ID it, cool. If not, at least the post will trickle down and off the page.

The current height of this one is about 2.5-3 ft to the crown, where the leaves attach to the trunk. At the end of winter it was only a foot high, so it's been putting on some decent growth. And according to a soil analysis I took to my local Extension Office, no amendments are needed or recommended. So the deep mulch of grass clippings topped with pine bark seems to be working so far. As one might notice in the pic, a new layer of grass clippings has been added to keep the organic matter up.



A closer look at the trunk in case that helps with ID. I'm guessing the black stuff on the trunk is a type of mold. So far it doesn't seem to be doing any real harm to the plant, so I haven't bothered fighting it aside from pulling off spent leaves which seem to feed it (the mold).


A view of the crown, again, in case it helps with ID purposes.


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RE: When can I ID?

Not one to just rest on my laurels, I have been learning a little here and there about banana plants in an effort to keep mine healthy. Even moved the above plants to a sunnier location and they have doubled in size this past growing season. Recently, I was watching someone's video on banana care and I heard something for the first time. I have looked this up and it seems to be well known among banana growers, which surprised me a little that it took so long to hear about it.

The topic that was brought up in the video was the difference between Water and Sword pups. After watching the video and reading up other information, I got to thinking of the few pups I have seen on my plants. All four of them so far have had would be considered, I guess, Water pups. Shortly after breaking soil, they start to leaf out with leaves that resemble the parent plant. The only difference, I would say, is that one guy mentioned that Water pups tend to come up about 6" from the parent plant while Sword pups come up near the base. All four of my pups have been at the base.

While I still do not expect an ID on what variety I have, is it safe to assume that if I do not see a Sword pup next growing season that the variety I have is an ornamental and not one for fruit production?


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RE: When can I ID?

No. Much of the water vs. sword pup discussion is mythology. A well-fertilized (in proper N-P-K ratios) Musa rarely produces water pups. With regard to ID, it requires pictures of the mature plant stalk, leaves, leaf ribs, male and female flowers, and fruit. You'll find an excellent group of banana growing enthusiasts by searching for International Banana Society.


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RE: When can I ID?

Thanks for the feedback. I thought I had already previously posted that I had learned that it took more info than I had to get an ID, hence my "...do not expect an ID..." comment, but I don't see that imagined post. I will read more about the sword and water pups, not to discount your comment, just to make sure one way or the other. While I use the correct NPK, I admit I do not feed my bananas as heavily or as often as some suggest. I don't do this because I live on a 100ft sandhill. This means I have "extreme" draining soil and nutrients just go through it too quickly and Florida already has a big problem with nutrient leeching into its lakes, rivers and aquifers. So instead I mulch heavily with grass clippings, compost and leaves to feed the plants and improve the soil's structure. I get my soil checked each summer to see what it needs and thus far the only thing needed in the bed with my bananas is a slight boost of magnesium.

I take it from your comment that even if I have ornamentals they will still end up blooming and fruiting? Just the fruit might not be desireable?

Thanks again for your info.


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RE: When can I ID?

In the genus Musa, there are seedless edible hybrids. Several of the hybrids are naturally occurring and many more have been bred by humans over millennia - the bulk of them in the last 100 years. Some are cooking bananas and some are "dessert" (fresh eating) bananas. To add to the confusion in the U.S., consumers think of the former as "plantains" and the latter bananas. The reality in horticulture is that plantains have a different growth form (phenotype) and there are "edible bananas" that you would always cook and never eat fresh.

There are also seeded species and hybrids of Musa grown for foliage. The seeds are the size of peas, numerous, and nearly as hard as gravel.

There is also another genera of bananas in the taxonomic family of bananas (Musaceae): Ensete. They are grown ornamentally and some can become quite large. The flowers are beautiful, and reports are that the fruit is insipid. There are no native cultures that use the fruit for food.


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RE: When can I ID?

Wow. More info than I was expecting, but every bit of it welcome. I knew that there had been hybridizing as I have seen some varieties on BBC shows that were grown purely for foliage, but didn't think it was quite so extensive. Thanks again.


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RE: When can I ID?

Well, a final note on these as far as I am concerned. The owner of the RV park these came from came down from NY for an inspection. My mother, who works in the office, asked if he knew anything about the banana plants, not really expecting him to. He said that he didn't know much about them other than they were purely decorative. When the manager who planted them asked for permission, she was told they couldn't be fruit-bearing because the park owner didn't want to run the risk of liability issues. Armed with that little info, I am going to start watching a local grower for if/when they get some Ice Cream bananas and relegate these to the wormery and compost bin.

It's funny that prior to acquiring these I had no interest in growing bananas, but now I can't get the idea of biting into my own grown bananas out of my head.


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