Local gardening with Kat: bananas – it’s time to split! - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photos by Kat Pearson.


Wynnum horticulturist and gardening enthusiast Kat Pearson talks about bananas this month and explores the good, the bad, and the ugly side of this fruit.

“They’ll be fine; I’ll keep them under control.” Even when I know it’s a bad idea, and I suspect I’ll regret it later, I’m always the optimist. But now my bananas must go! Just like the heliconias, which turned my side passage into a jungle, and the native raspberry, which turned the back garden into a prickly nightmare (and still gave me no fruit!). The bananas have become too big and too unwieldy, and even though they didn’t succumb to the storms over Christmas, their very precarious lean is the cause of much anxiety.

They’ve done well; I’ve had three bunches in about a year and a half, but, as the voice in my head told me at the time, bananas are really not suited to the middle of an ornamental garden bed. Mine are also five metres tall, because I had to have lady fingers and I couldn’t find a dwarf cultivar. It has become rather perilous to harvest a 40kg bunch of bananas from heights higher than my ladder, amongst a myriad of other ‘precious plants’. It’s been a relationship-building exercise with my husband; let’s just say that!

If you do want to grow bananas, here are some tips:

  • They are hungry and thirsty.
  • They don’t like wind. The lush tropical vibe you envision easily becomes derelict ratty leaves if you don’t protect them. When they are top-heavy with a bunch of bananas, they are easily knocked down in storms.
  • They should be kept to clumps of three: the main fruit-bearing stalk, a slightly smaller stalk, and a small pup in third place. Chop out any other suckers as far below the soil level as you can.
  • Once you harvest your bunch, that stalk will die. Instead of climbing a ladder, you can fell the whole stalk in one go – assuming you haven’t planted a multitude of ‘precious plants’ below.

I love gardening, growing my own food and plants in general. I’ve been working on our current garden in subtropical Brisbane for the last five years but have been gardening for much longer in all sorts of places. I’m an ex-engineer, recently turned horticulturist (life’s too short not to work in something you love!). I grow edibles and ornamentals in an often wild, rambling jungle, filled with birds and bugs, including a handful of pet chooks and a dog (though to be honest you’re more likely to find him inside on the couch). Find out more at www.girlinthegreen.com.au.

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