They fall into three groups:
Some people refer to bananas as trees or palms, but they are neither a tree nor a palm, but a giant clumping tropical herb. The Musa is fast growing and most sucker freely once the plant is established, which doesn’t take long after planting. The pseudostem blooms once and dies after fruiting, and the trunk should be cut down after fruit have been harvested. Most Musa plants can grow at the rate of a 25cm (1ft) or more a day if conditions are right (warm weather, lots of water, fertiliser and a good rich soil).
Musa, because of their shallow root system, likes a mulch of leaf mold and other organic matter, added to the top of the soil throughout the growing season. Musa can be grown from the corm – the swollen, solid, usually subterranean base or stem. The Musa produces smaller corms known as cormels or cormlets that are attached to the mother plant. These cormlets can be cut from the adult plant and potted up and a new baby Musa will grow, mature and produce bananas or plantains in the next season. Musa acuminata – dwarf cavendish is one of the best tub plants for indoor growing, small sized plant that produces fresh great tasting bananas.
Culture banana plants and the plantain are today grown in just about every tropical place in the world. The fruit production makes up and consists of the fourth largest fruit crop of the world. The plant needs 10-15 months of warm conditions to produce a flower stalk.
Most varieties will stop growing when the temperature drops too low – with the exception of some very hardy varieties such as Musa Basjoo and Musa Sikkimensis. Also excessive heat slows down the growth of the plant. Interestingly, growth will stop altogether with temperatures 100°+ F. High temperatures and bright sunlight will also scorch leaves and fruit, although bananas grow best in full sun. In most areas of Tobago and Trinidad bananas require wind protection for best appearance and maximum yield. They are also susceptible to being blown over. In the tropics of the world and the northern Caribbean whole crops are devastated by hurricanes which in turn causes considerable personal hardship to many.
Bananas, especially dwarf varieties, make good container specimens if given careful attention. The plant will also need periodic repotting as the old plant dies back and new plants develop.
There are basically two main types of banana, the cooking and the desert varieties. There are hundreds of cultivars of bananas and plantains. The greatest diversity is found in home gardens and traditional agriculture, while only a few cultivars are grown by large-scale producers for the export market. Modern cultivars are developed as older cultivars become susceptible to new diseases. Cavendish is one of the cultivars which is resistant to either Panama disease and is widely grown on commercial plantations. The Cavendish variety is one of the most popular banana exported from the Caribbean. The antiquity of the banana and its tendency to produce mutations or sports have resulted in an extensive number of cultivars.