Banana Tree

Bananasproduce large, elegant leaves and the occasional bunch of fruits, which certainly make a majestic addition to any garden or conservatory. Although they are tender plants, some species are hardy enough to leave outside over winter, especially in the milder parts of the UK, so they are worth experimenting with in the garden.

Choose a sheltered site, with the site sloping away slightly from the plant to avoid creating a frost pocket. Shelter from the wind is also essential to prevent leaves being shredded.

Plant in late spring, in a well-drained soil, enriched with organic matter (such as garden compost). Once plants are established, water and feed generously to get the best foliage.

Smaller banana species make ideal container plants, which can be placed outdoors for the summer and brought indoors over winter. Grow in a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No. 3 with extra grit (30 percent by volume).

Container-grown plants need ample watering during spring and summer months. Feed at weekly intervals during the spring and summer with a general-purpose liquid feed, or mix a controlled-release fertiliser into compost when potting.

In autumn, reduce watering and feeding, watering only when on the dry side in winter.

Tender plants should be brought in when temperatures fall below 14ºC (57ºF) and overwintered in a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory.

Pot on in spring once a year, or every other year. Size and vigour increases with size of container. Increase pot size by 5-7.5cm (2-3in) initially. Once established in 30cm (10in) pots, increase size by 10-15cm (4-6 inches) every two to three years