Fertilizer advice for banana plant?

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

My brother's had this banana plant for several years. Lets it sit outside during the warm summer months and puts it in front of a sunny window during the cold months. He says it always bounces back every summer and looks good. But he's never fertilized it, and he's wondering what type of fertilizer it might need. Any recommendations? Are there organic products that would work for this?

Thumbnail by dividedsky
Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

Odd looking flowers, until I realized they were the yucca/spanish bayonet in back.

I would presume a general fertilizer, and some Spray-n-Grow. It looks a little sad. Maybe tip it out of the pot, chop off some of the bottom, and add new fresh soil.

There are bananas that live rather far north, might be a better choice.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Ha, sorry about the odd angle.

Chop the bottoms of the roots straight off, or just rough them up a bit?

Great recommendations, thanks! I think he somehow attached to this poor thing but hasn't had the time to do much more with it than drag it in and out as the weather changes.

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

If they're too solid crowded, chop. Fresh soil, about two three inches, to give the ld boy some fun. An old houseplant trick. Old trick for an old plant.

Fulton, MO

Those do look underfertilized. On my potted bananas I use Osmocote15-9-12 and some occasional liquid MG. Bananas are heavy feeders. In the ground in the GH I have best results with 1/2 can of 10-10-10 plain fert about every 6 weeks in the summer.

The other problem you have there is soil compaction. You see how low in the pot the soil line is? I'm sure they were not potted at that level. Rather, the soil has compacted and sunk well below the top of the pot. This reduces aeration and reduces healthy root function. The soil needs to be well-aerated. I don't know that it looks crowded, but it surely does need to be repotted. I would pull it, wash out all of the old compacted mix from the edges and bottom, and replant with a loose, well-aerated potting mix. If it will stay in the pot for more than a few months, I would stay away from a peat-based mix like MG potting soil and rather go with a large particle bark type mix that will not compact so readily.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Can your recommend a potting mix that isn't peat based? Most of what I find around here is peat based, but I'd like to find a better mix for my houseplants and for this banana plant. For the health of the plant as well as for environmental concerns.

I could mix my own, I guess, but haven't really figured out what the right mix is. I tried tapla's container mix (from the Containers forum), but it drains so well that you need to water almost every day. The pine bark I used, though, might not have been small enough. I'd appreciate any suggestions for a good potting mix.

Fulton, MO

You have to make it. I use a variation of Tapla's mix. The key is getting the right size pine bark. I have also substituted coconut husk chips (CHC) for the pine bark which, for the most part, works OK. See posts CHC preparation if you do this.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Sounds good. Thanks for the tips.

Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

on a side note about bananas though, if anyone knows about banana care after shoots have shown could you please take a quick look at this thread not sure if I put it in the right place. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1007869/

Keaau, HI

Put it in a larger pot and add some soil which is high in organic matter. Bananas are heavy potassium feeders. A good fertilizer ratio for them is 2-1-3 / N-P-K. They love wood ashes and manure.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Heavy on the potassium - got it. He's got wood ashes and manure, so I'll tell him that the banana plants want some. Thanks!

Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

What effect would adding epsom salt to a developing plant with offset

Keaau, HI

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate heptahydrate) is basically magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) attached to seven water (H2O) molecules. It is an excellent fertilizer, especially if the fertilizer you are using does not contain magnesium. Epsom salt helps to correct a magnesium deficiency in soil.

Because of the sulfur in the salt it is great for hard-panned, heavy clay, and alkaline soils. It does not build up in the soil. The only way that it can be deterrent is if your soil has an excessive amount of sulfur in it.

As potassium and magnesium work together in a plant's metabolism it is good to feed to your plants in conjunction with potassium fertilizers.
A very good fertilizer is K-Mag, which is a mixture of potassium sulfate and magnesium sulfate.

The only down side of using Epsom salt is the expense compared to other fertilizer.

To apply Epsom salt as a fertilizer for your plants, liquefy one tablespoon in a gallon of water, and water your plant with it. Don't use Epsom salt to replace a balanced fertilizer, but use it as a supplement.

Aloha, Dave

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