A : Bananas are vigorously growing, monocotyledonous herbaceous plants. There are two species of banana, Musa acuminata and M. balbisiana, and most banana cultivars are hybrids of these species. The banana and plantain are native to Southeast Asia, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. Recent evidence suggests bananas were introduced into the New World ( Ecuador) by Southeast Asians around 200 B.C., and more recently by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in the early 16th century. Bananas have been grown in scattered locations throughout Florida since their introduction during the 16th century. Bananas flourish under uniformly warm to hot conditions. Fruit growth is best at 84 o F to 86 o F (29-30 o C). Plant growth slows below 60 o F (16 o C) and stops at 50 o F (10 o C). Symptoms of chilling injury (temperatures below 60 o F/16 o C but above 32 o F/0 o C) include failure of the flowering stalk or fruit bunch to emerge, development of a dull yellow or greenish-gray color to ripening fruit, distorted fruit shape, and an increase in fruit rotting. As you can see, we are already in the temperature “danger zone”. Bananas do best on flat, well drained, deep soils high in organic matter with a pH of 5.5-7.0. The most important factor is soil drainage. None of the cultivars listed in the UF publication are recommended for this area, but if you have a protected area and you are very diligent you may have some success with this plant. Check out http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg040 for more information.
Q: What kind of bananas can I grow in North Florida? Can you give me a little history on how they got here?