How to grow and care for banana plants inside
Banana plants make an excellent houseplant, providing height and interest all year round. Those grown in the UK – even indoors – will rarely produce edible fruit, however. But don’t let that put you off. They produce lovely foliage and interesting flowers and are easy to look after if you just follow our simple steps.
Types of banana plant to grow
The best banana plants for growing indoors are those in the Musa genus, so look out for this name on the plant label. There are about 70 different species of Musa, some of which are huge, but others which are comparatively small and more suitable to grow as a houseplant. The best banana plants to grow indoors include:
- Musa acuminata spp. Also known as red leaf banana plant. Producing beautiful red-striped leaves, this plant grows to just 2m (6'), making it great to brighten the corner of a room.
- Musa basjoo. Also known as Hardy banana, Musa japonica, or Japanese banana. Can grow to 5m (15') in height, but it’s easily contained by planting in a small pot. It produces small white flowers and tiny inedible fruit.
- Musa ornata. Also known as the Flowering banana. Its flowers are pink, and the inedible fruits are very dark pink.
- Musa velutina. Also known as the hairy banana and pink banana. With pink flowers and fuzzy pink fruit, this is a particularly stunning species.
All banana plants produce large, long leaves. These leaves have very tough stalks which gather together at the bottom to produce what looks like the stem. However, the banana plant doesn't really have a stem - it’s just a collection of rough and tough leaf stalks.
What you’ll need to grow banana plants
Banana plants are widely available to buy from garden centres and online retailers. Alternatively, they can be grown from cuttings or from seed. So, how to grow a banana plant inside?
To grow from seed, purchase them from a specialist seed company. Although some edible bananas produce seeds, these are unlikely to produce plants of the type that will thrive as a houseplant in the UK.
Soak seeds in tepid water for 24 hours. Loosely fill a small container with seed compost, such as Levington® Peat Free Seed & Cutting Compost. Place the soaked seed in the centre of the pot, and add a little more compost, firming in gently to ensure good contact between the compost and seed. Keep at a temperature of 20-24°C (68-75°F). Ensure the pot receives lots of light and be prepared to wait up to six months before the seed germinates.
If growing the banana plant from a cutting, lift an existing banana plant in the spring, and use a sharp knife to cut a sucker away from the main plant. Fill a container with Miracle-Gro® Premium Houseplant Potting Mix, with horticultural grit added to provide suitable drainage. Banana plants don’t need any support, so just place the roots of the cutting in the soil, cover with more compost if needed, and keep well watered until established.
Caring and nurturing your banana plants
As well as providing plenty of light and moisture, banana plants will benefit from a fortnightly feed in the spring and summer. Use a general purpose liquid fertiliser, such as Miracle-Gro® Pour & Feed™ Ready to Use Plant Food.
Water fortnightly, but do not allow the roots to sit in water, as this may cause the plant to rot. Misting the leaves is a good way to help the plant to absorb water at a steady rate.
Key features of banana plants
Botanical Name: Musa spp.
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Native Location: South-east Asia.
Light Exposure: Full sun.
Soil pH: Neutral to slightly acidic.
Flowering Time: July-August.
Flower Colour: White, pink.
Native Area: South-east Asia.
Frequently asked questions about banana plants
Are banana plants easy to care for?
Yes, an indoor banana plant will live for a very long time, as long as it receives plenty of light and the right amount of moisture.
Will my banana plant produce bananas?
A banana plant can produce flowers in July and August, but is unlikely to produce edible fruit in the UK.
Common pests and diseases of banana plants
Why does my banana plant have sticky, sooty marks on it?
Aphids can attack new growth on a banana plant, where they enjoy sucking sap from the lush green foliage and flower heads. This can leave a sticky ‘honeydew’ and sooty marks. Squash by hand.
What are the fluffy white lumps on the leaves of my banana plant?
Mealybugs can suck sap from the banana plant, leaving a sticky or sooty residue on leaves. Spray with BugClear™ Ultra Gun!
Why does my banana plant have webbing on the leaves?
Red spider mite can suck sap from the leaves of a banana plant, creating a very noticeable thick web on the leaf, damaging and weakening it if left untreated, and eventually killing the plant. Wipe away webbing and any visible detritus, then spray with BugClear™ Ultra Gun!