A Splash of Color and Banana Babies

Shortly after we purchased the project house, my next door neighbor gave me three banana plants. He grows them every year and they produce quite a few bananas. It takes about a year and a half to produce fruit. Once it produces fruit you cut the stalk down and wait for the next generations to arrive. The next generations start well before the bananas fruit. They come in the form of suckers. Generally you want to trim the suckers so the main plant gets the water and soil and they aren’t competing.  But several months in, you want to let one or two of the suckers grow to ensure continuous seasons of bananas. I recently discovered you should let the suckers that have sword like leaves grow as they will mature and produce fruit. Broad leaves on a sucker do not produce.

Last year my banana had babies. I have to say I was truly impressed with the beauty of the pod and flowers. I did not have a great yield, only six bananas but I was thrilled anyway. Bugs got to two of them and one rotted a bit so in the end I really only got three.

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The rest of my garden flourished and really brightened up the place. Originally there were no plants, just grass all the way up the fence line. Our intention was to find drought tolerant plants that would hide the fence and wire fence.

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Along the wire fence is Mexican petunia and in front of the wooden fence we transplanted a white rose from a neighbor’s yard and transplanted two hibiscus from other parts of this yard. The orange spikey plant is heleconia, also known as false bird of paradise and the red and green heart shaped is caladium.

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The purple plant is plumbago and I love how it covers so much of the fence. I put roses in between but they were hidden by the plumbago so you can’t see them too well. In front is orange lantana which originally was yellow but was so bright it hurt your eyes. At the rear is porter weed. It really is a weed but has beautiful purple flower spikes. We got so many compliments when it was at our other house we decided to plant some here as well. Below is a closer look at the back half of the bed.

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Everything survived through the hurricane…a bit beaten up but still intact despite the winds being strong enough to knock over several of our fences. The photos above were before and the ones below were after…only days apart.

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Two months later we had a frost of 32 degrees and again the plants survived but we had another frost a week later and this is what was left of my garden. It was green prior to the first frost.

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For a while, I let the garden go and just focused on the house and pressure washed the old paint off it. By the time I was done with the pressure washing our project house looked more like an abandoned house with it’s heavily spotted exterior paint and dead landscape. I had originally planned to do just a bit of pruning weeding and return back to the project house but the growing season started and some of the plants started coming back to life, in particular, the banana and plumbago. Realizing the roses were obscured by the plumbago, I decided to move them up front and move the lantana to the rear. I had seen a neighbor’s lantana grow up to the top of the fence and thought it would be a great accent against the plumbago.  The porter weed was dead and had to be removed so I replaced it with desert snow bushes and Siam tulips. This is what it looks like now. I can’t wait until it fills in. At the bottom of the post are close ups of some of these flowers.

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Now that we’ve had lots of rain and the plants have been weeded and fertilized my rewards have begun. The day after fertilizing my bananas I noticed a banana pod had formed and my first hand (banana speak for bunch of bananas) with eight baby bananas appeared. I was so overjoyed because I wasn’t sure how much damage had been done by the last frost. Looking more closely underneath the hand I could see another hand peeking out on the right and also left sides…more bananas are coming. By the next morning both hands were completely visible and I now had eighteen bananas! Woo Hoo!

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Since last years crop had been eaten by bugs I decided to order special breathable bags to keep insects off of them. It’s been a week since I found the first hand and as I arrive to bag up my beauties I discover one more hand in the early stages of developing with eight more potential bananas. If they do not develop, they are the male flowers and will drop off and that will be all that I will get from this tree. Only the female flowers will produce fruit. I should know by tomorrow. For now, they are all tucked nicely in their protective bag until they grow big enough to pick.

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Here is a sampling of some of the flowers in my garden. If you roll across the picture the layman’s name of the flower appears.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

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