There are a few varieties of the Banana tree that you can come across, and the most suitable for indoors is the Banana Musa Tropicana aka Dwarf Cavendish Banana aka the dwarf banana tree. The dwarf banana tree requires very low maintenance and given it proper conditions – it will reward you with a new leaf every week!
How much sunlight does a dwarf banana palm need? | Lighting
Do you know what’s great about the dwarf Banana tree? You can place it almost anywhere you want!
It really likes sunlight and it can actually withstand even direct sun rays without getting burned. Said that, you should always acclimate your plant to direct sunlight. Even plants that love direct sunlight can get damaged before they acclimate to direct sunlight. So slowly give it more and more sunlight.
This tree will also be OK with medium light conditions. It won’t grow as fast as if it were in a brightly lit spot, but it will grow nonetheless. So you can place it near any window (east, west, south or north) or even a couple of feet away from the window. It’s important it get at least a few hours of sunlight during the day. The intensity of the light is not that important for it’s maintenance.
Taking the banana tree outdoors for the growing season
You took out your dwarf banana plant outside and it started to wilt and look sad? Let me tell you my story..
This year I took my dwarf banana tree out on the balcony and I placed it in shade where no sunlight would damage the leaves. Since the leaves of this tree are quite sensitive, my banana plant took a big hit when I moved it outdoors.
It was adjusting to the climate for the first few weeks. The old leaves curled, wilted and eventually dried so I took them off. What I found fascinating in this process is how the new leaves changed.
They had a certain look, shape and feel before I brought the plant outside, but after the “adjustment period”, new leaves began to grow more sturdy, more firm. And, as weeks passed by, leaves began to grow bigger!
The banana tree propagates by division of the pups like, for example, the Pilea Peperomioides and Sansevieria. Before moving it outdoors, my banana tree had one baby pup. Now, after 3 months, it got three new ones that grew so much during summer they are almost as big as the mother plant!
If you are thinking of moving your banana tree outside for the growing season (spring/summer) be sure to do it when the temperatures at night don’t drop below at least 16°C and don’t worry if for the first few weeks your dwarf banana palm looks a bit sad.
How much water does a dwarf banana tree need? | Watering
Water your dwarf banana tree when the first 5-10 cm of soil is dry. Just stick your finger in soil and if it’s dry by the length of your finger – it’s time to water it! Water it thoroughly so that the water reaches all the roots and let the excess water drain from the drainage holes.
Having drainage holes on the bottom of the pot is really important. You don’t want to let your banana tree sit in water for days and days. As you may know, overwatering is the n.1 plant killer, so throwing out the excess water is a must.
Of course, you can leave the water for 15-30 minutes and let the plant soak up some more water if it needs to. But after that be sure to throw out the rest of the water.
How often do you need to water your dwarf Banana Musa?
How often you’ll need to water it will depend on numerous factors, like the type and size of the pot, etc. I go through those factors in the article – 7 factors that affect your houseplant watering frequency, so check it out for a more in depth view on this subject.
The only important thing is to let the top of the soil dry out as I mentioned above.
Keep in mind that the less sunlight it gets = less water (less frequent watering) it’ll need.
I like to specifically point that out because it’s so easy to over water and hurt your plant in that way.
If you are a known overwaterer, you’ll like the Banana tree because it’s roots can stand being in moist soil. But it’s always a good idea to repot your plant in a terracotta pot that won’t retain moisture for long.
Repotting your dwarf banana palm
When I just bought my Banana Musa, I remember reading that it’s roots like and need a lot of space and that you should repot it in a big container so, believe it or not, I did it. I repotted it from a 10cm pot to a 25 cm pot! (I wouldn’t recommend doing this with almost any other houseplant, honestly.) And here’s why I said Banana’s roots can stand moist soil.
Can you imagine how much soil is there in a 25cm pot with a small plant inside? A lot, a lot, a lot. And yet, by just following my rule for watering it, I never had any overwatering issues. I did plant it in a terracotta pot, so I believe that was a smart choice that certainly helped with the aeration and all.
When to repot?
You don’t need to wait that it gets super root bound before repotting it. It’s good to freshen up the soil every 2-3 years – if it doesn’t get root bound sooner.
The best is to repot your palm in spring, but if you forgot or for some reason you didn’t want to do it then, you can repot it in summer and autumn, also. A general houseplant soil mix will do fine, just be sure it has aeration materials in it also, like sand, perlite or pumice. That’s important so that water can actually go through the soil and reach all the roots.
The easiest way to propagate the dwarf banana tree
The easiest and probably the only way in which you’ll propagate your banana tree is by division. The banana tree shoots baby banana trees and when those pups grow and develop a root system of their own – you can go ahead and divide them from the mother plant.
Division may sound boring if you like to propagate with cuttings, but you can’t propagate the banana palm from cuttings. And.. it’s actually exciting that after the division you get an already established new plant ready to thrive.
After dividing them carefully and potting them individually in new pots, you may notice that the leaves wilted a bit. Don’t worry, it’s just what the banana palm does. They will perk back up in a couple of days! For the first week or so I like to keep the soil moist, after which I switch to my regular watering schedule.
Fertilizing it once a month with a complete liquid fertilizer will help your banana thrive throughout the growing season. I start to fertilize it in March and I do it until the end of fall.
Be sure to follow the instructions of the fertilizer you’re using to avoid over fertilization.
If you just repotted your plant – you don’t need to fertilize it for the first couple of months.
The Banana palm is considered to be non-toxic to pets by the ASPCA. If you want to see if some other plant can be harmful for your pet – check out this useful list by the ASPCA of toxic and non toxic plants: