Corey asks why his banana won’t make fruit – or at least, many fruit:
Hey David – any idea why my bananas set one row, but the rest of the fruits are dying and not developing?
Here’s the picture of the banana bloom he sent with his question:
Reasons Why Your Banana isn’t Making (Much) Fruit
- The banana clump is young and not large enough to make much fruit yet
- The plant was a bit thirsty, hungry, or both
- The banana tree was in the shade
- The variety is not a very productive type (like Orinoco)
Banana blooms can be easily identified by sex. The first blooms to emerge are female, and look just like little bananas. After all the female blooms are produced in multiple hands, the tree starts making male blooms in regularly descending ranks. They produce pollen, but not bananas. Once the final rank of female blooms appear, that’s all the bananas you’re going to get.
Banana Varieties and Their Fruits
Some types, like Orinoco, which we enjoy but which is not particularly productive, only makes a few hands of bananas before quitting. This is just 14 “fingers,” or individual fruits:
Other banana varieties can make crazy amounts of fingers:
You could be dealing with a wide range of reasons why a banana isn’t making more fruit, but once you understand how they bloom it makes much more sense.
After that, you just need to look at genetics and cultural conditions.
This is how the Cavendish bananas grew down on the island:
And this is another ladyfinger variety growing in The Great South Florida Food Forest Project:
We love growing bananas and plantains.
If you are in the right climate, they are one of the very best survival crops you can grow, as I discuss in the must-have book for Floridians: Florida Survival Gardening.