How to Grow and Care for a Banana Plant Indoors

These essential tips will help you successfully grow bananas as a houseplant.

When you think of big, glamorous houseplants, banana plants probably aren't the first thing that come to mind. Elephant ears, monsteras, or snake plants might already have a spot in your house and heart, but there's always room for more plants. Banana plants add a tropical feeling to any room with their huge, shiny leaves. However, don't expect to have a bunch of bananas hanging out in your living room. When grown inside, banana plants hardly ever produce fruit. So get a big planter and make some room, because a banana is going to be your next addition to your houseplant collection.

large banana plant tree growing indoors in sunny living room
Jay Wilde

Best Banana Varieties to Grow Indoors

You're probably most familiar with the Cavendish variety, which is the type of banana sold in supermarkets across America. Its classic yellow fruit is what we use as a staple snack or smoothie mix-in. However, not all bananas have yellow skin. Blue Java bananas have a turquoise peel while red bananas have a deep burgundy colored peel. In the wild, a banana tree can easily reach anywhere from 20-40 feet high. Their red or purple flowers eventually produce the bunches of bananas we're used to seeing in grocery stores.

When growing a banana plant indoors, be conscious of the space you have. Because they can grow so tall, the classic Cavendish isn't a good choice. Instead, look for dwarf varieties of banana plants. These will be the best choice for growing as a houseplant.

  • Dwarf Cavendish (Tropicana) grows 8-10 feet tall.
  • Dwarf Red grows 6 feet tall.
  • Veranda grows up to 10 feet tall.

If you're thinking of trying to grow a banana plant from a store-bought fruit, note that these bananas have been bred to be seedless. Otherwise, bananas would been practically inedible because of the large, hard seeds that grow in the fruit. The downside is that all Cavendish bananas are clones or genetic copies of each other. That leaves them all vulnerable to diseases that could spread quickly to all of them. The best way to grow a banana plant indoors is to buy one from a reputable seller.

How to Grow a Banana Plant Indoors

Potting

Give your banana a pot that is about twice the size of the root system of the plant. Make sure your container has drainage holes. Fill the container with fresh potting mix. Don't cover the leafy layers of the stalk with soil.

Light

Indigenous to tropical areas near the equator, banana plants need lots of sun. "Outside, bananas grow in full sun," says horticulturist at Costa Farms, Justin Hancock. "So indoors, you want to give them as much light as you can whether that's natural light, artificial light, or a mix of both. You want your plant to be able to cast the strong shadow most of the day." Purchasing a growing lamp would help keep your banana plant healthy through the winter.

"Banana plants do best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, meaning they need to be placed close to a south- or west-facing window," Pangborn says.

Temperature and Humidity

Banana plants like it warm and wet. They can grow in Zones 9-11 in the United States. Indoors, the plant should be kept between 67-90℉. They'll stop growing in colder temperatures. Banana plants grow the fastest in temperatures between 80-95℉. With more water, banana plants can handle higher temperatures, but they prefer not to.

Bloomscape gardening expert Lindsay Pangborn states, "Native to humid environments, your banana plant may show signs of stress if the air is too dry in your home. Protect plants from drafty areas and air vents, and add humidity with a pebble tray or a humidifier placed nearby."

Water

Water your banana plant frequently enough to keep the soil constantly moist but not soggy. If allowed to sit in water, this plant could get root rot.

Fertilizer

Banana houseplants are frequent feeders. Give yours a healthy and frequent dose of fertilizer. Aim for giving your banana plant fertilizer once a month. Spread an even amount of a balanced soluble fertilizer throughout the pot for best results.

Repotting

The larger you want your banana plant to grow, the bigger the pot you should give it. Banana plants grow to the size of their environment. The best time to repot a banana plant is in the spring before the active growing season starts. Banana plants aren't fussy plants that need to be repotted often. They don't mind to be a little root-bound. As a rule of thumb, try to repot your banana plant around every three years.

Pests and Problems

The most common problem with indoor banana plants is root rot from overwatering. Make sure you never let your plant sit in water. On rare occasions, your banana plant may encounter a few leaf diseases like powdery mildew. These can pop up when it's too humid without enough air flow. Cut off any affected leaves and let a fan gently blow over the leaves until the problem clears up.

Watch out for spider mites. These tiny, nearly transparent pests usually hide out on the underside of leaves. Telltale signs are yellowish bumps and cottony webbing with little dots (the mites) on them. To get rid of spider mites, use a mixture of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 4 parts water (for example, a 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol to 2 cups of water). Wipe or spray the leaves of your plants with this mixture.

Dust, dirt, and debris will settle on your banana plant's leaves over time. A quick wipe down will help keep the plant healthy and looking its best. Run a clean, soft cloth over your plant's leaves about once a month.

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