Are you wondering about how to best use fertilizers for banana trees? All varieties of banana trees are heavy feeders. They require high-quality, frequent doses of banana fertilizer to grow strong and healthy to produce a big yield of tasty fruit.
Although banana plants are typically found on farms in tropical areas, the many different varieties of banana plants that are now available means that home gardeners have begun planting bananas in their backyard.
There are even cold-hardy banana trees available for cooler climates, like the Musa basjoo, and many varieties can thrive in containers and pots.
If you are a home gardener who plans on planting banana trees, then knowing all the requirements for growing healthy plants. When it comes to growing banana trees, knowing how to use banana plant fertilizer is important to helping your plant grow successfully.
Banana Tree Fertilizer Requirements
Banana trees are very heavy feeders and require a lot of nourishment to grow successfully. The best fertilizers for banana trees are high in potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, like an 8-10-8 fertilizer.
Because their fertilizer needs are so unusually high, the most common problems that bananas trees experience are potassium and nitrogen deficiencies.
Young banana trees can use from ¼ to ½ pound of banana tree fertilizer a month in order to grow as quickly as possible, while mature banana trees need 1.5 pound of banana fertilizer per month.
You can use either a liquid banana tree fertilizer or granular banana tree fertilizer on your banana plants. A well-balanced banana fertilizer will have all the necessary micro and secondary nutrients that your plant needs to produce a good size bunch of high-grade bananas.
So not only will fertilizers for banana trees deliver a bigger yield, they also ensure that the fruit you harvest is tasty and nutritious.Fertilizing your banana tree depends on the season as it corresponds to the plant’s growth periods.
Spring and Summer Fertilizing
Warmer weather stimulate root and leaf growth as the plant goes through its most active and fruit-producing period. This is when you need to fertilize the plant regularly once each month.
Water in the fertilizer well and keep the soil moist and not waterlogged. Halve the amount of fertilizer for indoor or potted banana trees.
Fall and Winter Fertilizing
This is the plant’s dormant season where little to no growth takes place. You can stop fertilizing the plant or continue to fertilize the plant minimally with a maintenance fertilizer (preferably by spraying the leaves) every two months.
Why is Nitrogen Essential For Banana Plants?
Nitrogen is critical for the growth of your banana plant, helping in the production of chlorophyll and ensuring your plant develops plenty of strong, healthy green leaves, which means a good yield of fruit.
Plenty of nitrogen, especially when the plant is young, will ensure that you get well-sized and plentiful fruit.
Signs of a nitrogen deficiency include yellowing of leaves, a rose-colored tint on the petioles (leaf stems), stunted and poor growth of the plant as a whole, poor or no crop, and rapid leaf death.
Why is Potassium Essential For High Quality Bananas?
Potassium is another nutrient that is essential to the growth and health of your banana plant. Potassium plays an important role in photosynthesis, regulating CO2 and water uptake, and helping your plant resist diseases and environmental stress from cooler weather.
It also ensures that your crop of bananas is of a high grade that is rich in potassium, which is great for your diet.
Signs of a Banana Plants Potassium Deficiency:
- small yellow leaves
- late growth of banana bunches
- reduced yield (fewer fruits)
- very small or no bananas
Other Nutrients that Banana Trees Need
The best banana fertilizers have both macro and micronutrients, as banana plants need both to survive and thrive. In addition to nitrogen and potassium, banana plants need macronutrients like phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and sulfur, as well as micronutrients like boron, zinc and iron.
Balanced fertilizers for banana trees will have all the macro and micronutrients your plant needs, ensuring that it grows quickly, stays healthy and produces a good crop of high-grade fruit. We recommend an 8-10-8 banana plant fertilizer.
How To Fertilize A Banana Tree
Fertilizing Mature and Dwarf Plant
How to Fertilize Mature Banana Plant
When fertilizing a banana tree that is mature (9 months or older), you need to apply 1.5 pounds of 8-10-8 fertilizer once per month.
Spread the banana tree fertilizer evenly in a circle around the base of the banana plant (don’t let it come into contact with the trunk), dig it into the soil slightly and water it in well.
Dwarf Banana Plant
For dwarf banana trees or banana trees in containers, you can use half the amount of fertilizer in a monthly dose.
Fertilize As You Water
Another method of fertilizing your banana plants is to add a lighter application of banana fertilizer every time you are watering the plant.
You can do this by mixing the water and a portion of the monthly dose of fertilizer together and applying it as you start irrigating.
Repeat this each time you water your banana plant, keeping the soil moist without letting it get waterlogged. Your banana plant needs watering if the top inch of soil is dry.
Using a High Potassium and High Nitrogen Fertilizer
If you are using a high potassium and high nitrogen fertilizer rather than a balanced fertilizer, then the application is slightly different. The high nitrogen feed should be added to the soil once every month and during the growing season, and watered in well.
Once the banana starts to flower, you need to limit the application of high nitrogen fertilizer and switch to a high potassium fertilizer. Measure the acidity of the soil and, once the soil reached 6 pH or below, then stop applying the fertilizer.
Alternatively, stop applying the fertilizer when flowers appear.
Banana Plant Diseases and Pests
Using a good quality banana plant fertilizer will help your banana tree resist pests and diseases, but it’s a good idea to get to know these common problems in order to treat your banana tree effectively.
Plant Parasitic Nematodes
These microscopic roundworms love banana plants, but they need to be removed quickly or they will severely damage your plant. They cause rotting of the corms (rhizome) and can infect the plant with fungus. You will need a nematicide spray to kill off these pests.
If left untreated, they will cause your banana trees to topple and continue to reoccur year after year.
These little insects are very destructive, burrowing into the banana plant and tunneling through it to cause severe damage. You’ll need a pesticide to kill banana weevils.
Banana Rust Thrips
Banana plants can become infested with banana rust thrips, which stain the banana peel and cause the skin to burst and the fruit to rot. A dedicated insecticide will kill the thrips, and many people also protect the growing bunch of bananas with polyethylene bagging.
Also known as Panama wilt disease, this disease is caused by a fungus that starts in the root system of the plant. Leaves will start to yellow from the outside of the plant to leaves closer to the core.
Unfortunately, it is lethal, and this plant will have to be destroyed.
Also known as leaf spot, this is caused by a fungus that generally attacks banana plants living in poorly drained soil. You’ll see small, pale spots on the leaves that grow in size and become purple/black in color, making the leaves look burned.
Spray orchard grade mineral oil on the plant every 3 weeks for 12 applications to control this fungus.
Black Leaf Streak
Black sigatoka disease is a more severe version of Sigatoka and is very difficult to control when a plant becomes infected. Follow the instructions above and use a general fungicide, but rather destroy and replace your banana plant if it becomes too severe.
This is a disease that is transmitted to banana plants through aphids, and dwarf varieties of banana plants are especially vulnerable.
Symptoms include short, narrow leaves with upturned edges that become stiff and brittle, and young leaves going yellow and developing dark green dot-and-dash patterning.
This is a very serious virus that has wiped out crops around the world.
It’s best to spray your banana plant regularly with a general insecticide to kill the aphids and prevent the virus. If the virus is detected, you should remove the plant and destroy it.
Frequently Asked Questions for Feeding and Growing Banana Trees
What do you feed banana trees?
Banana plants need a lot of nutrients to grow and produce fruit. To fertilize a mature banana plant, use 1.5 of 8-10-8 fertilizer once a month. For dwarf banana plants or container plants, use half that amount.
How often do you fertilize banana trees?
Use a high nitrogen fertilizer once a month through spring and summer. When it begins flowering, switch to a high potassium fertilizer.
You can stop fertilizing when fruit starts to develop or when the soil reaches a pH of 6. You do not need to fertilize it through fall and winter.
Are coffee grounds good for banana trees?
Coffee grounds are a great source of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, so they are ideal for banana trees which rely heavily on these nutrients to produce healthy leaves and tasty fruit.
Is Epsom salt good for banana trees?
Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, is very beneficial to the growth and of healthy banana plants. It helps promote green, plentiful leaves and more abundant fruit yields.
Do banana plants need a lot of water?
Banana plants are tropical and need regular watering to keep the soil moist and produce tasty fruit. During summer, water our banana plant more regularly – every 2-3 days – to keep the top inch of soil moist. Do not overwater.
How can I make my banana tree grow faster?
Use a balanced fertilizer like an 8-10-8 to help your banana plant grow faster. During spring and summer give your young banana plant or potted banana plant 0.5 pounds of fertilizer once each month, and mature plants 1.5 pounds of fertilizer per month to ensure rapid growth.
For more knowledge about fertilizers, read our guide on how to use 10 10 10 fertilizer.
Wrapping Up Our Guide on How To Fertilize Banana Trees For The Best Yield
So, in conclusion, it's important to fertilize your banana plants on a monthly basis with a 8-10-8 fertilizer as well as a dose of Epsom salts. You can even your old coffee grounds to ensure a healthy plant and a good yield of fruit. This also aids it to resist pests and disease.
With regular watering keep the soil around your banana plant moist. Spraying with an insecticide or fungicide to treat pests and diseases, and a warm and sunny position in your garden and your banana plant will thrive!
And that covers everything you need to know about fertilizers for banana plants, how to apply them and how to keep your plant healthy.
I hope this information helps you get a great crop this year! If you have any questions about banana tree fertilizer or how to care for your banana tree, leave a comment below.