Do Bananas Have Seeds or Grow on Trees? How To Grow Banana Fruit Trees

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | March 20, 2024

Man confused with his finger on his chin wonders do bananas grow on trees and do bananas have seeds while looking at a large banana plant and also asking how to grow banana trees from seeds and just what is a banana plant?

The banana plant doesn’t look like a typical fruit tree with its smooth layered stem, massive leaves, and bunches hanging from the top, and many people ask, do bananas grow on trees?

Actually, no. Bananas grow from a plant that technically an herb. The stem itself is one of many types of tall succulents.

But, like nearly all fruits, bananas do have seeds, and can be cultivated from the tiny seeds inside the fruit.

If asking, do bananas grow on trees, the answer is technically no, but they are called banana trees because of the sizes they can reach. Knowing how to grow banana fruit trees from their seeds can be a rewarding and delicious endeavor.

This complete guide explains what makes bananas so unique and how you can grow a banana plant from a seed.

Where Do Bananas Come From?

The famous banana is a berry that grows elongated in various colors and sizes depending on the variety.1

When ripe, the fleshy edible part of the fruit is covered by yellow, green, purple, red, or brown skin, and the bunches grow upwards to near the top.

Photo of four pieces of yellow, ripe banana.

(Image: Jörg (foto-canvas-store)13)

These fruits are initially from South East Asia but spread globally to the tropical regions where they are produced on a large scale in India, Africa, and South America. They were eaten as luxury items when they came to America in the 1800s, but now, they are one of the most common fruits.

The average American consumes more than 75 bananas annually.2 The most popular variety in Europe and North America is the Cavendish, or Desert Banana, which you will find in kitchens and local stores.

Do Bananas Have Seeds?

If you think of any fruit, your first thought is that it should have seeds that you can plant to regenerate another fruit tree. Interestingly, the banana has seeds; given its structure, it is considered a berry.

It has three layers, the exocarp (the inedible peel), the mesocarp (the soft flesh you eat), and the endocarp (the enclosure that holds the seed). The wild bananas have hard, massive seeds inside, making most of the fruit unpalatable.

The bananas on store shelves and those in people’s homes also have seeds inside, but they are too tiny to detect easily. With years of mutation, experts created almost seedless, tastier bananas, unlike wild ones.

Is the Banana a Fruit or Vegetable?

Many regard the banana as a fruit, understandable because it is tasty and fleshy, similar to any other fruit growing on a tree. However, this is not the case because it is technically a herb, not a tree. The stem is not rigid or woody but succulent, with fusing layers.

On the other hand, what you pick from the bunch and eat can pass up as a fruit. You peel the cover to reveal an edible part, and it has seeds inside, which are visible in wild plants but reduced in the ones you eat.3 The banana’s biology has changed; they are now tiny specs, almost non-existent.4

Do Bananas Grow on Trees?

One of the most common questions about the fruit is, do bananas grow on trees? You would assume that the 20-30-foot-tall plant carrying a heavy bunch of fruits is a fruit tree, but not exactly.

You will notice some differences by looking closely at it and comparing it to other fruit trees.

Photo of the banana tree,, fruit, and flower.

(Image: Pdimaria14)

To dispel the bananas grow on trees myth, the tree trunk gives it away. First, they are not woody, only a layer of skins rounded in circles to form a stem of densely-packed lower ends of the tree’s leaves.

The trunk may be solid, but more like the form of the orchid, making it a herb, not a fruit tree.5 This makes the banana one of the largest plants worldwide.

How Do Bananas Grow?

Bananas are unique plants, and you probably want to know how to grow banana fruit trees. Farmers propagate them through vegetative means where existing trees help produce new banana plants.

The most preferred method is propagation using pups or suckers, the shoots growing from the mother plant’s base. You carefully remove them from the existing tree and plant them in a new spot caring for them until they sprout into new separate plants.

They may take a while to grow, explaining why large-scale farmers dip them in rooting hormones to promote faster growth.

Alternatively, you can propagate using rhizome cuttings or chunks from underground banana stems.6 It is not a standard method but necessary for growing rare banana breeds.

How To Grow a Banana Tree from Seeds

Knowing how to grow a banana tree gives you the expertise to plant healthy, fruitful trees. They thrive when grown in moist, fertile, well-draining soils, and if the earth in your region is not nutrient-rich, you may have to apply fertilizer 4 or more times a year to increase the growth rate.

It also helps to plant where there is full sunlight and a sufficient supply of water, but be careful not to waterlog the soil to avoid complications.

You can plant the rhizome in a hole at least a foot deep such that the sucker is visible. While many produce the banana outdoors, you can also grow them indoors in containers.

But, if you want to cultivate the banana plant from a seed, you can.

How to grow banana trees from seeds graphic outlining the steps to grow a banana plant using seeds harvested from the fruit.

The steps are nearly the same as from a rihzome cutting, but start with seeds.

Do Bananas Grow on Trees or Bushes?

While answering the question of do bananas grow on trees, it is also essential to consider whether they are shrubs/ bushes. A bush is a plant that grows 8-12 feet tall with thin twigs and densely growing several branches.

The banana doesn’t grow in this form; it has a pseudostem, not a woody trunk.7 The soft stem also extends from the inside, and the plant has a unique root structure where it grows from spreading rhizomes.8

Another difference is that the banana plant can grow to 20-30 feet unless it is a dwarf species that reach only six feet; shrubs don’t usually grow this high since they reach around 10 feet.

What Do Bananas Grow On? Do Bananas Grow on Trees?

The banana doesn’t have a solid woody stem, so do bananas grow on trees? This plant is a herb that many mistakes for one of the types of palm trees. It has a fascinating growth method where its trunk is made of fused parts of the leaves growing at the top, explaining the softness.

The plant grows from a rhizome, and the fruits grow in bunches, one at a time, from the flower bud, pointing upwards.

These bunches are usually heavy, sometimes weighing more than 40 kg.

How Long It Takes To Grow Banana on a Tree?

If you are keen to know how fast does a banana tree grow, you will appreciate that it often takes less than 2 years until the fruits are ready for harvesting.

Since they grow from a bulb, they usually take 9-12 months from planting to harvesting the fruits.

Banana Plant growth chart showing full grown Banana tree on a line graph with Banana Plant age on the x-axis and Banana Plant height on the y-axis.

The flowers can appear in the 6th or 7th month, and unlike other fruit trees, there is no particular growing season, meaning the bananas are available throughout the year. However, the growth rate usually depends on your plant variety and how well you care for it.

How To Grow Banana Trees in Pots

You can grow bananas in containers for ornamental purposes, and the best part is that they are easy to care for, even for beginners.

You can start with seeds, or corm, choosing your preferred variety, but many go for the dwarf species, which fit better in pots.

Photo of a small banana plant in a vase while showing a hand holding it.

(Image: Feeypflanzen15)

You only need a quality potting mix and a wooden, plastic, or ceramic container of at least 15 gallons. When the tree outgrows the pot, you can always transplant it to a larger container or in the open.

Do Banana Trees Grow Back?

If your region experiences harsh winters, you can expect your tree’s leaves to discolor; in extreme cases, the frost can affect the trunk or the entire tree.9

If you are lucky that your tree stays standing, you only have to trim the affected parts.

The foliage should grow back healthy from the top of the trunk. However, the process will take longer if you cut the stool. Also note that the banana produces fruit only once, after which it dies back.

When To Plant Banana for the Best Yield

Unlike other fruit trees, bananas don’t have specific growing seasons for the best yield. You can plant them all year except during harsh winters and heavy rains. Springtime is perfect because the danger of frost will have passed.

Bananas don’t do well under freezing temperatures and may fail to sprout. It also helps to avoid planting them when the soil is water-logged due to heavy rains because they will be in danger of root rot.

What Are the Stages of Banana Growth?

The banana takes 9 -12 months from planting until the fruits are ready to be harvested.10 It can take a longer or shorter time, depending on the variety you plant, where you plant it, and how you care for it. Still, generally, a banana plant goes through three main stages.

Stage 1: Vegetative Growth

It is the time after planting when the tree starts to develop, growing taller and more robust before it matures. It takes about 6 months, the longest of the three stages.

Stage 2: Flowering

When the plant has patiently grown and is healthy and sturdy, it reaches maturity, where the fruits start forming in 3 months.

Stage 3: Fruit Stage

After the flowering stage, the last three months are dedicated to fruit formation. The bananas should be ready for harvesting after this time.

Growing Zones for Bananas: Where To Grow Bananas

Most varieties, including the Blue Java Banana tree, love full sunlight and warm and humid conditions. Therefore, planting is safer if you live in USDA zones 10-11.

Image of a banana farm.

(Image: Reinout_dujardin116)

Otherwise, if you experience harsh winters, you should reconsider planting it outside and grow it in a pot indoors. The leaves and bark will suffer under extreme cold and die; the entire tree will be affected in severe cases.

Luckily, cold-hardy varieties like the Musa basjoo/Japanese banana can survive in hardiness zones 7 and above.

Companion Plants for Growing Banana

The following companion plants will help your bananas grow stronger, healthier, and more fruitful.

  • Sweet potatoes: Protect the soil from weeds and help in moisture retention
  • Comfrey: Deposit nutrients in the soil for your bananas to use
  • Lemongrass: This is a natural way to keep off bugs, pests, and weeds
  • Palm trees: This provides partial shade for banana trees, especially in the sweltering summers
  • Hibiscus: Attracts a lot of pollinators to the farm
  • Ginger: Shades the soil from the sun to help retain moisture

What To Know About Growing Banana From a Seed

Instead of planting a rhizome, you can take the long route and grow the banana from the seed. Unfortunately, you will buy some from a supplier because the commercial fruits are specially modified for the seeds to reduce.

When you find the seeds, soak them for about 48 hours, then plant each at a time in one-inch holes. Ensure that the soil is well draining and moist, not water-logged.

Your seeds should sprout under the proper care, but remember that the process can take longer, germination occurring in 3 weeks to 6 months based on the variety and the prevailing conditions.

Growing a Banana From a Seedling

Starting a banana from a seedling can be tasking since you must start from the seed, wait for it to germinate then care for it until the tree becomes independent.

The most convenient and preferred way to go about it is to propagate using a rhizome; because you don’t have to wait for the germination process.

What Are the Best Growing Conditions for Banana?

The following tips will help boost your banana yields.

  • Light

Bananas love the sun and warmth and need about 6 hours daily to grow healthy and strong. However, you can provide partial shade if your variety scorches under extreme sunlight.

  • Soil

For the best results, consider planting your bananas in nutrient-rich, well-draining, slightly acidic soil; they don’t do well in overwatered or salty soil.

  • Water

Regularly watering your banana trees helps replicate their natural tropical habitat. The goal is to make the soil moist, not soggy, or it will affect the plant.

  • Temperature

While these herbaceous plants thrive in humid conditions, they don’t tolerate extreme temperatures. Freezing and sweltering conditions make them die back, and you will have to trim them for better growth.

What Are the Watering Needs for Banana Plants?

Depending on the prevailing temperatures, you can water your banana plants a few times a week, but the primary consideration is that the soil should stay moist.

You can water once a day during summer when the heat levels are high, but they don’t need as much moisture in winter or when it is cooler. Overwatering is a menace to bananas because they are susceptible to root rot, which occurs when the soil is too soggy.11

Planting Tips for Banana

  • Compared to their sizes, bananas tend to grow extremely fast; the following conditions guarantee a fast growth rate.
  • You can start growing your bananas from seeds, but it takes more time between germination and harvesting.
  • 6-8 hours of sunlight daily will be sufficient; otherwise, they will grow slowly under partial or total shade.
  • Watering frequently during summer and reducing the level when it rains will provide enough moisture for the tree.
  • Adding nutrients a few times yearly will improve the fruiting rate and help you harvest quickly.
  • You can confirm your banana variety and all its needs before planting it, from the hardiness zones to other factors.
  • Although planting indoors works for cold regions, your banana may not achieve its full potential compared to growing outdoors under favorable conditions.
  • If the winter has killed your leaves, you can trim them and let them grow back, don’t cut down the trunk.

How Far Apart To Plant Banana Trees?

Bananas stretch their roots in the ground, and their leaves grow massive, needing a lot of space between them to avoid overcrowding. You are safe leaving a 10-12 feet distance between every two trees.

Image field of banana trees.

(Image: Efraimstochter17)

This way, you can prevent shading, and every plant will have sufficient space to grow.

How Much Sunlight Do Banana Trees Need Each Day?

Since they are tropical trees, bananas need 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. The sun’s energy promotes fruit development and overall growth. Without it, the tree will take longer to fruit and may grow stunted, which affects your yields.

Do Bananas Grow on Trees?

Bananas grow on perennial herbs, not fruit trees. Unlike trees, they lack rigid trunks and branches and instead have structures made of layers of skins that fuse. These are the leaves’ lower parts, making the bananas some of the world’s largest plants.

How Many Bananas Grow on a Tree?

A banana tree produces only one bunch in its lifetime, after which the plant dies. However, the branch can be as heavy as 45 kg and hold up to 240 fruits. Each row in the bunch holds 14-20 bananas, and there are 9-12 hands, bringing the total to 240.

How To Grow a Peach Tree From Seed

On how to grow a peach tree from seed, peach seeds must undergo stratification four months before the last frost date to germinate, and you can place yours in the refrigerator if your region is warm. Soak them overnight, put them in a jar with wet potting soil, and store them in the fridge.

Based on the peach variety, it should start sprouting in 1-3 months. Afterward, you can plant them in a container or open ground, caring for them until they grow.

How To Grow a Cherry Tree From Seed

To know how to grow a cherry tree from seed, you should start with clean, dry seeds, wrap them in a damp paper towel, then place them in a jar or bag and store them in the fridge for about three months. You should see new growth, alerting you that it is time to plant.

Common Pests of the Banana

The banana is also susceptible to pests and diseases like other fruit trees, and the following are the bugs to watch out for.

  • Aphids: These notorious pests suck the plant’s juices, leaving the leaves curled and transmitting other diseases
  • Nematodes: Common in bananas and infamous for making certain parts and fruits rot
  • Red spider mites: Feed on the plant parts, affecting its growth
  • Black weevil: You can tell their infestation when you see a jelly-like sap flowing from the tree
  • Thrips: Affect the fruits by discoloring them and splitting the peels

Preventing Banana Plant Problems

The most common viral and fungal diseases that affect bananas include the banana streak disease, infectious chlorosis, Panama wilt, and Mycosphaerella leaf spot.

Some are manageable with fungicides, but most mean the end of the infected plant.

To avoid such diseases, ensure that your soil drains well, you properly space your plants, and there are no weeds. If the condition is severe and there is no cure, the only remedy is to uproot the trees and burn them to avoid further spreading. Also, remember to buy the suckers from certified and reputable sources.

Examples of Natural Pest Control for Banana

The best way to keep pests off your bananas is by caring for them; a healthy plant will easily defend itself against bugs and diseases. However, if the bugs have already attacked, you can introduce natural predators like lacewings and ladybugs.

Alternatively, you can make a natural and safe insecticidal soap that only affects the bugs, not the beneficial insects. The mixture contains water, baking soda, vegetable oil, and liquid soap.

You can now enjoy tasty seedless bananas thanks to mutation experts. This fruit is fascinating to learn about, and interestingly, it is not a tree as you would presume of any other plant that bears fruits. Its bark comprises several soft tissues from the leaves, making it a herb.

Conversely, trees have rigid woody trunks and stem, making the banana an exceptional plant. Another difference is that the fruits grow in batches, and a tree can bear more than 200 of them, but only once before it dies back.

You can plant it indoors for ornamental value or grow it on a large or small-scale setting, for fruit supply. Therefore, you have the answer to your burning question, “do bananas grow on trees?”

Frequently Asked Questions About Do Bananas Grow on Trees

Do Pineapples Grow on Trees?

If you ask if do pineapples grow on trees, pineapples grow in the middle of a small spiky plant resembling a palm, not a tree. The leaves don’t extend past 6 feet, and the fruit doesn’t hang from the tree’s branches, typical features of most fruit trees.

How Long Does It Take for a Tree To Grow?

So, how long does it take for a tree to grow? Most trees take 10-20 years to reach maturity, but the time frame varies based on the species, its living conditions, and several other factors. Other trees take long to fruit but afterward live for centuries, while others mature and die faster.

Do Bananas Grow on Coconut Trees?

Bananas and coconuts are two different plants from different tree families. Therefore, bananas can’t grow on coconut trees or the other way around.


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