Banana plant: Houseplant expert on how to keep tropical tree alive in winter

Gardeners' World: How to care for houseplants

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Cavendish or banana plant as it is more commonly known is becoming increasingly popular amongst houseplant owners. The plant is tropical and naturally grows in warm and humid climates, so it is important to bear a few things in mind when caring for them during the winter months. spoke to Patch Plant doctor Richard Cheshire who shared his top tips. 

The banana plant was first brought to the UK in 1834 by the chaplain of Alton Towers, a stately home now better known as a theme park.

The plants were gifted to William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, who had them cultivated in his greenhouses and then named them after himself.

There is a dwarf variety of the plant for anyone looking to have it as an indoor plant all year round. 

But even the dwarf Cavendish gets large if it’s given enough light and space. 

While the plant is relatively easy to look after when it’s warm, what about the care it needs during the colder months of the year? 

Richard said: “These plants will respond well to good light and even take some direct sun, so make sure you check how the light in your home has changed with the seasons and place the plant in a brighter position. 

“Cavendish do well indoors all year round, and if your plant is potted outside then you definitely don’t want to leave it out there past October. 

“Bring it indoors and place it by a sunny window. 

“To overwinter an outdoor Cavendish growing in the ground, cut back the leaves and wrap it in something warm like straw and horticultural fleece to protect it from frost and icy winds.” 

He added: “Naturally, watering will be scaled back in the colder winter months so make sure you check the soil is dry about two inches deep before topping up with water. 

“However, they do like a little more water on their leaves, which might look tough but are actually very delicate and will scar easily in low humidity. 

“As the central heating comes on, increase the moisture around the plant by misting it around three times a week, and by keeping it away from cold draughts. 

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“You may lose a couple of leaves in the winter but this is completely normal as they produce lots of new growth in the spring.” 

Richard’s advice was: “Simply prune away any yellow/brown leaves by cutting them away from the main stem of the plant as this will help it to conserve energy and thrive for the rest of the year.” 

Because of how big the leaves on a banana plant can get, they tear easily. 

But since the plant grows quickly, it will soon repair or replace any broken growth. 

Top tip: Banana plants will grow extra fast if you give them a feed with fertiliser once a month in spring and summer. 

For anyone who has a banana plant inside, not only is it air purifying but it also pet and baby safe. 

Did you know? Cavendish bananas are the most popular banana in the world.

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