Most club members will know how to divide up the base of a banana plants into ‘bits’ for propagating new banana plants – each ‘bit’ having an eye from which the shoot emerges. Alternatively you can use suckers taken from the side of the clump for establishing new plants.
A newsletter published recently by the Department of Primary Industries has some helpful tips to increase your chances of successfully ‘striking’ these bits or suckers. The article is written by Jeff Daniells, Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, DPI, South Johnstone and Pat O’Farrell, from the Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, DPI, Mareeba.
Tip 1: The authors recommend avoiding planting in hot, wet conditions, as these conditions promote rotting in the planting material. The drier months of the early spring are the best. In South East Queensland this is usually September – October.
Tip 2: You can plant bananas at other times of the year by potting them. Small suckers or bits can be established in bags or pots. They should be watered every 1-3 days for the first 2 weeks until the root system is well established. The potted plants are stronger and establish more quickly once you plant them out.
Tip 3: It is important that land be prepared well and has good drainage for bananas. Deep ripping before planting improves the drainage of the soil. The soil needs only to be worked fine enough to get good contact with most of the planting material.
Tip 4: Soil moisture is critical. Suckers and bits have the best chance of establishment if planted in moist soil a few days after a good rain. No further water should be required until the shoots have emerged. Alternatively, apply 25 – 50mm of irrigation immediately after planting.
Tip 5: Larger planting pieces give better strikes. The larger the sucker or bit, the more reliable the emergence of shoots. Using large pieces is usually not a problem for the home gardener, but of course is less cost-effective in commercial settings. Larger pieces usually have more than one ‘eye’ so the extra shoots which emerge need to be thinned out later.
Tip 6: Allow cut surfaces to air-dry for 1-2 days, but not in the sun as they could dry out too much. The cut surfaces on suckers and bits can allow infection by soil organisms, causing rotting. Drying them out a little allows the cut surface to form a ‘shellac-like’ seal, which protects the planting piece against rot-causing organisms. Keep dirt away from the cut surfaces to reduce the risk of infection.
Tip 7: Planting. Suckers and bits should be planted deep enough to ensure adequate soil moisture until shoots emerge. About 15cm of soil depth is about right. After covering suckers or bits, the soil should be firmed down with the foot, to improve contact between soil and the planting material.
Jeff Daniells and Pat O’Farrell: Department of Primary Industries, “How to increase your banana strike rate.”
Banana Topics, Issue 32, December 2002